I picked “He Has” because I’d read one of Albert Goldbarth’s essays and seriously enjoyed his musical prose-style. But his poetry ended up being so sound device-laden that it twisted my tongue the first few times through. This initial difficulty made me want to emphasize the jazzy rhythm and euphony of the first four lines. After that, as the poem settled into philosophical meditation, I tried to pace my words and leave enough silence for people to process the ideas.
If I read it again, I hope I’d be less nervous. I definitely underestimated the scariness of reading to the class. Maybe I should have psyched up with Whitman poems or those motivational tapes which claim to help you “Conquer Fear and Regain Control of Your Life.” Being less nervous definitely would’ve improved my pacing of the less musical passages. I also would’ve spent less time hiding my eyes in the book.
Practicing this poem aloud taught me that it is much easier to memorize euphonic passages than it is to remember routine prose offerings. I also learned that Goldbarth’s alliteration, assonance, consonance, and rhyme – all so nice to stumble across with your eyes – can trip your tongue if you read full speed.