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Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form,
And the barriers fall,
The reward of it all.
The best and the last!
And bade me creep past,
The heroes of old,
Of pain, darkness, and cold.
The black minute's at end,
Shall dwindle, shall blend,
Then a light, then thy breast,
And with God be the rest!
ADAM TO EVE.
From “ The Drama of Exile. – Mrs. Browning.
Raise the majesties
Of others of that name, of whose bright steps
Action is the expression of thought by means of different movements of the body.
“No one can recite with propriety what he does not feel; the key to gesture, as well as to modulation, is earnestness. No one can portray character unless he can realize it, and he can realize it only by making it for the time his own.
“In the natural order of passionate expression, looks are first, gestures second, and words last. Inexpressive motions should always be avoided. No gesture should be made without a reason for it; and when any gesture has been assumed, there should be no change from it without a reason. The habit of allowing the hands to fall to the side immediately after every gesture, produces an ungracefully restless effect. The speaker seems
• Awkward, embarrassed, stiff, without the skill
He wants the striking elegance of ease.' “Some orators accompany every vocal accent with a bodily motion; but the consequence is that their monotonous manipulations fatigue the eye. A gesture that illustrates nothing is worse than useless; it destroys the effect of really appropriate movements.”
The following principles have been gleaned, for the most part, from Austin's " Chironomia,” to which work teachers are referred for a full exposition of the subject of gesture.
The gracefulness of motion in the human frame, consists in the facility and security with which it is executed; and the grace of any position depends upon the ease with which it can be varied. Hence, in standing, the position is graceful when the weight of the body is principally supported on one leg, while the other is so placed as to be ready to relieve it promptly and without effort. ... . The foot which sustains the 'principal weight (usually the left) must be so placed that a perpendicular line, let fall from the pit of the neck, would pass through the heel, the centre of gravity of the body being for the time in that line, while the other foot merely assists in preserving this position. The characteristics of a good attitude are, firmness, freedom, simplicity, and grace. The appearance of the orator should be equally removed from the awkwardness of the rustic, with toes turned in and knees bent, and from the affectation of the dancing master, whose position is the opposite extreme. The sustaining foot is to be planted firmly; the leg braced, but not contracted; the other foot and limb being relaxed, ready for immediate, though oftentimes almost imperceptible change and action.
All awkward habits should be carefully avoided : as, resting the weight of the body alternately on one foot and then on the other; swinging to
and fro; jerking the body forward at every emphatic wird; keeping the elbows pinioned to the sides and sawing the air with one hand, with one unvaried and ungraceful motion. As gesture is used for the illustration and enforcement of language, it should be limited, in its application, to such words and passages as admit of or require it, frequent change giving the idea of anxiety or instability. A judicious speaker will not only adapt the general style and manner of action to the subject, the place, and the occasion, but even when allowing himself the greatest latitude, he will reserve the force and ornament of gesture for those parts of his discourse containing his boldest thoughts or most brilliant expressions.
As the head gives the chief grace to the person, so does it principally contribute to the expression of grace in delivery. Its position should be erect and natural; for, when drooping, it indicates humility or diffidence; when thrown back, arrogance; when inclined to one side, languor or indifference; when stiff and rigid, a lack of ease and self-possession. — The eyes, which are of greatest importance in aiding the expression of the orator, should generally be directed as the gesture points, excepting when we wish to condemn, refuse, or require any object to be removed ; in which case we should at the same moment express aversion in the countenance, and rejection by the gesture.- A listless, inanimate expression will always detract from the effect of the most eloquent sentiments, and the most appropriate utterance.
The bow of the speaker to his audience should be graceful and dignified, free from a careless, jerking abruptness, or from a formal, unnecessary flourish.
Some of the most frequent gestures, to which the various members of the body contribute, are as follow:
The Head and Face. The hanging down of the head denotes shame, or grief: holding it up, pride or courage: to nod forward implies assent: to toss the head back, dissent: the inclination of the head implies bashfulness or languor: it is averted in dislike or horror: it leans forward in attention.
The Eyes. The eyes are raised, in prayer: they weep in sorrow: burn, in anger: they are cast on vacancy, in thought: they are thrown in different directions, in doubt and anxiety.
The Arms. The arms are projected forward, in authority: both arms are spread extended, in admiration: they are held forward, in imploring help: they both fall suddenly, in disappointment: folded, they denote thoughtfulness.
The arm, when not employed in preparing for the terminating act of gesture, should never exhibit an angle at the elbow, but be always freely extended, yet without the rigidness of a straight line; a moderate bending of the elbow being requisite to freedom and grace.