In his Glossary entry on ‘Persona, Tone, and Voice’, M.H. Abrams points out, ‘we tend to think of all works of literature . . . as a mode of speech’ (p. 155), or , as Patricia Parker puts it, ‘in the absence of contrary indications, we infer a voice even though we know that we are reading words on a page’.1 In reading poetry, this tendency can perhaps be related to the origins of poetry in oral performance, though we will argue that there are other factors at work as well. But if reading does consist in the automatic translation of writing into imaginary speech, then it seems possible to ask two questions: ‘Who speaks the words on the page?’ and ‘How did we come to “overhear” these words?’