Thrill your family this Christmas - with a poem!

The nights are drawing in, Christmas decorations have been up in Hong Kong for a month now, families are gearing up for the trilogy of Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year. This year, why now kill the television and entertain your family with good old fashioned poetry recitals?

What makes a poem suitable for a performance? Use the following criteria and you won't go far wrong!

1: Does the poem have a strong story or message?
2: Is there scope for your dramatic range?
3: Do you like it? Is it suitable for your audience?
4: Does it end on a strong note?

Casabianca by Felicia Hemans is a stirring ballad which has been enthralling audiences since it was published in the 1820's. The poem is instantly recognisable from the first stanza:

The boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle's wreck
Shone round him o'er the dead.

The poem continues for for another ten stirring verses and inspired generations. Less stirring but equally entertaining was the parody taught to us by my late Grandfather:

The boy stood on the burning deck
Selling peas a penny a peck
But did he wash his filthy neck?
No, did he heck!

If you can't memorise the whole ten verses, don't be afraid to read but do remember that looking at your audience is far more important than gazing at a bit of paper. This poem suits all readers and can be read by a group. Play around with the voices and you could even read this as an adult/child dialogue.

Read with confidence and hold your audience in the palm of your hand.

To read the entire poem: http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/hemans/works/hf-burning.html

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