Thursday, August 26, 2010

On not quite being finished

One cannot finish without tidying up. And I had left a mess in a few places. I think I have now replaced all the posts that were hard to read because of font sizes. I also removed the funky borders and I found some psalms where I had completely missed the prosodic lines. One was Psalm 38, always a psalm that is instructive to read.

I have left lots of problems with concordance across psalms. I think the creative synonyms of the King James version are a bad idea because they often obscure what I think is deliberate poetic framing, but total concordance would be equally bad. In one poem, large - like the epic Job, or small like a psalm, I think it is important to preserve concordance as much as possible, but in multiple poems, I have been less rigid (out of necessity). So across some poems, I will have missed concordance, but equally I will, if I catch it, try to avoid a rare English word if it will set up a false allusion to another poem.

One has to ask, of course, what is a final copy? Maybe this is a collection of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Blake, and Eliot - and one would expect differences in their word choices and language.  But one would equally expect deliberate allusion especially from later poets. So the argument for discordance on the grounds of dialect will not stand without nuance. And what about for the epic? If it was composed over 5 centuries, should the final work be considered coherent? If I can read it as coherent, am I just imposing my own will on the text (in my ignorance of all that the scholars say about it)? Perhaps. Consider this:
Over the years L. has retained a consistent view of the development of the book: first, a legend from the trans-Jordan that found a home in Israel perhaps as early as the 10-9th centuries B.C.E. (pp. 177-78) into which, in the postexilic period, the Satan was inserted (p. 69); second, the speeches, which constitute the core of the book, can reasonably be dated to the first half of the 5th century B.C.E.; about a generation later (p. 73), in the second half of that century, the Elihu speeches were added and then, by the 3rd century B.C.E. at the latest, the wisdom poem in chapter 28 (p. 80)
From Claude E. Cox on Jean Lévêque, Job ou le drame de la foi: Essais (LD 216; Paris: Cerf 2007).

In this business of communicating with an ancient poet and redactor I will never be finished.
In this business of being with the hope of all the earth, I also hope I will never finish.
But there are times when finishing is much more like a circle than a straight line.
Round and round I go till I jump out of the words and formatting and say - it is sufficient.