Monday, April 11, 2011

Structure revealed

Yes - I have to say that sometimes the highlighting of verbal structure really draws a curtain open as at the beginning of a play. Here in Psalm 138 for instance.  The repetition does not necessarily reveal the prosodic divisions. In this case three words begin in the first two verses and are used in reverse order in the remainder of the poem. The last two verses stand apart from the rest of the poem except for one of those words.  But I was able to see the 'meaning' - yes the meaning - finally getting to the shot of adrenalin that poetry is meant to deliver to out halting souls.  Yes there is meaning and it's not mean, miserable or average stuff.

Here it is a bit of the universal, a topic of interest these days: all kings of the earth will give you thanks.

You can see the poet's mind working. We are near the end of the Psalter, we have mounted the steps of the Temple singing 15 songs and shouting Hey! 7 times. We have rehearsed the joy of the living God and his works of creation, redemption, sanctification, and universal Eucharist twice (psalms 135, 136) and we have remembered the extremes of trouble and then ... (the poet's mind) ... the poet begins with a promise to יְהוָה and in a moment, in the gap between verse 3 and verse 4, sees that even his enemies will also praise this God.

I am sure some people don't need to be hit over the head with this reading strategy, but I do.  (By the way, my word choices might give you pause. Promise is from my rendering of this recurring word in psalm 119 in order to distinguish it from that other word meaning word, thing or matter.)