The Boy with The Dark Magician Inside

When I was about, what, 11, we were assigned to pick something from a short story to read out loud to class–any short story. I picked this Edgar Allan Poe prose poem, and I read it dramatically…and, being well familiar with the piece, I sank into the state of mind, the mood, the atmosphere it evokes, and lowered the pitch of my voice, deliberately made it resonate–I was always a showman–and read the story out. The class got very quiet. Girls near me got big eyed and their faces were marked with ill disguised revulsion. I was delighted with that, of course.

When I got to the final lines I read them louder, and more resonantly, even rolling Rs, very melodramatic. I felt as if I was channeling something powerful. To me, I had physically grown to about seven feet high, and was a dark man with large black eyes and the power over life and death.

I was, in my mind, for about two seconds, a true sorcerer, as I intoned: “…For the tones in the voice of the shadow were not the tones of any one being, but of a multitude of beings, and, varying in their cadences from syllable to syllable fell duskly upon our ears in the well-remembered and familiar accents of many thousand departed friends…. ”

Of course, a video of the event would have shown a weedy little kid reading aloud in his weedy little voice, maybe shifting his weight from foot to foot as he stood awkwardly at his desk–a somewhat ridiculous figure…But not to ME. In my mind I was that magician invoking the return of the dead–a necromancer at work.

And indeed, when I finished the kids were impressed–with what a weirdo I was–and the teacher seemed a little stunned. “Ah…great, very good job. Have a seat now.”

Here’s a link to Poe’s excellent prose poem: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/POE/shadow.html

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