The Bible and Free Verse?

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"The initial models for free verse poems were the psalms and the Song of Solomon in the King James Version of the Bible.  While reproducing the Song of Solomon in English, the translators attempted to imitate the cadences of the original Hebrew..."

-From page 239 of Sharon Hamilton's Essential Literary Terms

I was really suprised by this fact.  I have always recognized that the printing of the Bible in English was a major accomplishment; however I have considered the Bible as more of a historical reference and religious text rather than a literary work.  This makes me think that maybe more people should read the Bible as a piece of literature just to see what differences and similarities this point of view has to offer when compared to the former religious and historical perspectives.  Maybe people have already done this, and if so it would be interesting to see the comparisons. 

It does make a lot of sense though that literary concepts from the Bible would be the first to be imitated.  This would have been the first text translated into modern languages, and the Bible has been one of the most important texts to society practically since its creation.  It is just very interesting to compare free verse poems now to the psalms, especially because the content is often so different.  Hamilton gives the free verse example of the psalms followed by the example "Song of Myself" by Walt Witman which deal with some of the most conflicting ideas possible.  It is just very ironic that free verse poetry would have originated this way when compared to more recent free verse poetry. 

1 Comments

Kaitlin Monier said:

I never thought of the Bible as literature before taking the Bible as Lit class. I think it is still sort of difficult to see the literature in it, however, the way it is written does incorporate different elements and styles.

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