When I finally come to realize And acknowledge all you have done for me Through my desires to come to your mercy seat And petitions made at your feet I will choose to go with you, and be what you want me to be. I never knew I could feel this way About just you and me All the time you were shining your light Yet I was too blind to see Speaking together as one Yet our voices bring an angry stillness Because no one's going to let go Of pride and emptiness We're both searching For a love that doesn't cry to be free We've both been searching For that part of you that speaks to me I never thought I'd make it And taste that sweetness in your kiss The fragrance a woman brings to fill the air That moment too good to miss Standing together, holding you now My place in your world and yours in mine Each moment held captive Each day with you seems like a lifetime I'm really searching For a woman like you You're really searching To avoid the many and seek the few I never thought I'd see round the corner With my back against the wall Yet you came along To let me take your hand and answer love's call I'm here right with you Can't you see the beginning from the end?
Stop and look at me, face to face My eyes have love's message to send We're no longer searching Even though there are answers to be found But we've got someone else to help us So search no more, we'll be heaven bound. Oh my love, I dedicate my self to you So sweet as honey dew Is the love you bring to me So tender and forever new. When my heart was aching When I couldn't walk life's road alone You brought me your tender touch Eased my pain and brought me home.
Love can be eternal Love can be for sure Love can make many sacrifices And yet still remain so pure. Now I realize so clearly How much I need you here with me The words I want to speak Will never be able to make you see. That I am so close to you And I'll never be the same So good together Only you can wash away my pain. Come bring me your gentleness Let me feel your sweet caress Let us share together our deepest longings And know that truly we are blessed. Come, let us walk this road together Let us never be as strangers or alone Even when I'm near and yet seem far away I close my eyes and I know I'm at home.
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Until that day comes, when we have to part Let me be your helper, comforter and friend And much more than this may I freely give My one love, faithful and true to the very end. There was another whose love was so complete Pain and anguish was there for all to see Yet this special love he so freely gave Poured out for you and me. Here I am, sitting here all alone Lost on life's merry go round Never able to know The way it'll turn Never able to raise a free smile Above a captive frown.
On a clear day I'm standing face to face with myself The mirror won't hide What I don't what to see The daylight won't always Drive away the darkness Even though that's my plea. Because I need a real love To come and lift me To heights unknown I need a real love To come and give me wings No other passage have I flown. I'm just passing through The many stations on life's journey No time to stop And take in the sights on the road No compass here to guide me And no companion to share the load.
What's going on within me And here in my life Why am I still searching For life's central core? Why is it when I'm moving on I've seen it all before? Because I need a real love To come and show me The way I must go I need a real love More than just a friend Is someone who knows When the journey will be slow. Can you hear the clock ticking? Or each moment rushing by People, their voices reflecting an uncertain agenda You can't hear any clear message, and simply sigh. Take just one fleeting moment And look at each face you see What unfulfilled areas lie there within Are all really travelling from A to B?
The world is plunging headlong Into these, the uncharted seas What hopes and fears of the millions Will become just unheard pleas? For a baby, born into a uncertain world For the young and old, both so insecure These and others all part of a common humanity That knows much, but still seeks a cure. The clock is still ticking And sometimes darkness is all about But two thousand years ago, a candle was lit And its warm glow will never go out.
That candle was lit so quietly No triumphal procession therein was found Why is it that many still walk in its light? Exchanging a rocky pathway for higher ground. Yet we still feel the pain, but know we can't change the past The future beckons us to pathways we have yet to tread Our comfort zones and repeated moans Mean we want others to first go ahead. Two thousand years, is it really that long Since a new landscape came into view It's just another year to so many So the landscape seems just for the few.
But the challenge will always face us The race must always be run The torch passed from generation to generation A new life has just begun. From drugs to drink, from heaven to hell and back again Some voices scream loudly to be heard Two thousand years, and the candle lights their darkness New wings to fly, just one candle and one bird. We finished off Narrative and we're going into poetry, which is a large part of the Bible. A lot of poetry in the Bible. Tim: Yeah, it is a lot of poetry, an enormous amount.
And it all shares in a part of one specific cultural heritage of a way of writing in poetry at the Israelite Jewish poetry tradition. Tim: Yeah, that's a whole interesting thing I think we should talk about is that every culture has its own categories of what constitutes poetry. And it differs from culture to culture. That's been actually one of the really interesting things about the history of biblical poetry, as it's been studied in the last few hundred years is spent a lot of the arguing and debates that scholars love to do is whether it's poetry or not.
But what ends up being the case is half the time, it's people really what they're arguing over is their conceptions of what makes something poetic. Those are really relative categories because they're shaped by wherever you happen to grow up. Jon: I do remember when I was really young, well, maybe in high school or something, thinking about what is it that makes something poetry.
Because it's all the same words, but there is something you can you can tell when something is poetry. Jon: And it weirded me out that you could take the same words in the same language and talk plainly, but then you can also then use it to talk in some fundamentally different way. It was always elusive as to how that actually came to be. Tim: Yeah, that's right. There's a whole part of this conversation, especially what this video will be about. We going to have two videos planned on reading biblical poetry. The first one is just on the artistry of the language of biblical poetry.
A lot of these categories won't be unique to Hebrew or Bible poetry. They're kind of universal qualities, but each culture puts them into practice in different ways. So it's both kind of a universal conversation we're having about what makes some language more functional and some language more artistic.
What is that? I've at least boiled down to some categories that are helpful for me. Then there are some unique things about biblical poetry that once you can see them for what they are, they really enrich your experience of one-third of the Bible. So I think it's helpful too. Tim: I thought we could begin by reading a poem from the book of Psalms, Psalms I remember reading this poem for the first time in, I don't know, somewhere in my first year or two, as a follower of Jesus, and I remember just reading the poem, and just going, "What?
What is going on right now? Now, I've come to love this poem. It's beautiful. It has going on inside of it all of the dynamics that make Hebrew poetry what it is. Do you want to read it? Do you want me to read it? Because reading it's half the thing. Also just for the listener on the podcast, this might be a challenging conversation to listen to because half of what makes really reflecting on biblical poetry is being able to see it on a page and ponder it that way, and linger over the words, and read, and reread and read slowly.
Tim: That's cool. So how about this? Since I've come to love this poem? I would like to perform a reading of Psalm Tim: This is an experiment for you and whoever's listening. I'll do a reading, and then I want you to reflect on what just happened. I want us to try and give words to what just happened, and then the rest of our conversation will be giving form to that feeling that you have. Tim: One preface to note, and we'll talk about this at length, is that poetry often presses words into unusual settings to make them mean more than they would often mean in normal speech.
There's a Hebrew word that's at the center of this poem gets repeated more than any other word.
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It gets translated in our English translations as "voice". It's the Hebrew word "qol". So it can be impersonal like wind, but it can also be personal like spirit. And we call that breath or spirit.
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In the same way, Hebrew "qol" can be impersonal, in which case—. Tim: Yes, it gets translated as sound. When it's a personal qol, it gets translated as voice. And one of the most common ways that gets used to describe the qol of a storm, namely Thunder. There are some rare words for thunder, but the most common word for thunder is qol.
In my reading of Psalm 29, I'm not going to use the English translations. I'm just going to say the word qol. But for you to know, it's a word that can be used to mean sound, voice, or thunder. Jon: So it's thunder, even if it's just Tim: Correct. Tim: All right. Give to Yahweh the glory due his name; worship Yahweh in the splendor of holiness. The qol of Yahweh is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, Yahweh thunders over the mighty waters. The qol of Yahweh is powerful; the call of Yahweh is majestic.
The qol of Yahweh breaks the cedars; Yahweh breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. The qol of Yahweh strikes with flashes of lightning. The qol of Yahweh shakes the desert; Yahweh shakes the desert of Kadesh. The qol of Yahweh twists the Oaks, it strips the forest bare. And everything in his temple cries out, "Glory!
Yahweh gives strength to his people; Yahweh bless His people with shalom. So good. Tim: So if I were to ask you, this just like on an intellectual or rational level, what is this poem about? Jon: Well, you gave the big hint. I mean, all of the metaphors are you can just imagine thunder doing all these things: Breaking cedars into pieces, making animals jump, striking with flashes of lightning.
Tim: Yeah, it's a forest at mountain range. Sirion is Mount Hermon. The tallest mountain in the region. Jon: Yeah. Shakes the desert, flashes of lightning, twisting oaks, strips the forest bare. I mean, yeah, that's all you can just imagine lightning doing everything. Tim: Yeah. So at one level, the center of the poem is describing a thunderstorm. A thunder and lightning storm. It has flames, shatters trees, shoots them apart, makes earthquake. Tim: Notice the movement of the qol. It begins with over the waters, so it's rolling in off the Mediterranean. So it's a poet sitting up on Mount Carmel or something, where Elijah had the showdown with the prophets and he's watching.
You can be there and just look at the Mediterranean qol and watch the storm come in. Tim: It goes up north Lebanon, then it moves over the hill country south to Kadesh, the desert of Kadesh. Tim: Near the staging area where the spies went to go enter into the land. Kadesh Barnea or desert Kadesh. So it moves from North, all way to South. Earthquake blasting trees apart. That's the center of the poem is describing a thunderstorm. But every single time the word "qol" appears, it's someone's qol. It's Yahweh's qol. So we're equating the power of a thunderstorm with the power of the cloud writer.
It's creation theology. That's what the poet's doing here. But you could pick up from the poetry that it's describing a thunderstorm.
Tim: But yeah, the fact that it's the voice of the Lord instead of the just the sound or the thunder. If you're just listening to it, you also can't see I have highlighted color patterns, all the key repeated words. And if you see it, they kind of appear in groups. Note the first four lines had that repetition. Tim: The sons have Elin or a variation of Elohim. It's actually the subordinate gods who are being called to recognize they've been—. Tim: Spiritual beings. It's not even a human audience at first that's implied or addressed.
That's fascinating. Tim: And notice the triple address, "give, give, give," all three in the beginning. You could have just said it once, but you say it three times. Tim: Repetition. Yeah, repetition. Notice also there's a word used only in the opening pair of lines and in the last pair of lines. I have it in yellow there. It's the word "strength. Acknowledge that He has strength. Actually, look at these closing lines. Jon: Yeah, that seemed to jump out of nowhere. But I guess a thunderstorm comes with a lot of water. So if Yahweh's power, if the thunderstorm is this image of the creator's power, He's obviously even more powerful.
And if it moves over with the chaotic sea, and overland, He has power over both. So this final lines are like drawing these theological implications of if the storm is powerful overwater and land, how much more Yahweh? But it uses the word flood. It uses the precise word that's used in the book of Genesis to describe the flood.
Now, we're talking about the chaos waters of Genesis 1. So he's King over chaos. Tim: He King, over chaos. That's right. Chaos is powerful, but Yahweh is more powerful. He also is enthroned as King. Kings aren't just powerful. They're powerful over a people. And then that's the next line. So the opening line is spiritual beings recognizing the strength of Yahweh. But now Yahweh's power and strength overall chaotic forces is relevant specifically to the people over which He rules and Yahweh gives His strength to them.
And then the last word of the poem is shalom.
He blesses them with shalom. Jon: And that comes out of nowhere, too, because everything's so chaotic and destructive, and unruly. Then the last line is "Blessing with shalom. Tim: It's calming. It's calming, isn't it? After all, the thunder, He gives strength to His people blessing them with shalom, with peace. Tim: Actually, that last line, "the Lord blesses His people with peace" is riffing off of the blessing of Aaron in Number Chapter 6.
But "Bay he bless you and keep you, cause his face shine on you," and then it ends as "May He give you shalom. Psalm 29, you can dissect it, and it's kind of like killing the butterfly on the examination table. But it's worth really reflecting on how it works as a poem. So you named repetition and you immediately clued into the imagery. I'm just curious what else stood out to you or stands out to you? Jon: The whole midsection of this poem is just one metaphor after the next of the voice being like thunder in different scenarios.
And it's very repetitive. Tim: The technique is, there are some realities that we encounter, that thinking about them from one perspective won't be sufficient. You need to turn it over and look at it again through a different way of talking about it. And then again, and again. I mean, how many lines? There's like 16 lines here basically making the same point that a thunderstorm is really powerful and that it's Yahweh's power.
So repetition. But it's not just free for all. It's a structured repetition. There's a rhythm. There's a rhythm to it, which is easier to see when you look at it. Even just what we noted, the center of the poem is 16 lines. How do you know they are lines? What's a line? Tim: Well, it begs the question of, "How do I know that it is consist of lines?
What are the clues? Tim: Oh, that's very interesting. Among the dead sea scrolls, there are a number of biblical poems that are broken up into their poetic lines. Tim: I'm just saying if you were just to throw words on a page, how do you recognize something as a poetic line? Tim: What a poet does is give very clear indications that this language isn't just free-flowing, it's following a pattern, a rhythm. Jon: When I write poetry, or when I have, the line is kind of when I get to the end of my page.
It's like, "Oh, I got to switch. So that I think, can transition us into, as we think about this poem, all the poems in the Bible, what are some of the universal characteristics that mark the kind of speech that is poetry that is able to take entities or realities of our experience, put them under our view, but in a way that doesn't just think about it from one perspective and the languages and drawing attention to itself as intentionally artistic? Actually, I have a good quote here. This is from Adele Berlin, who in our narrative conversations I quoted from her excellent book on biblical narrative.
And she has a great book on biblical poetry. She says, "Poetry conveys thought. There is something the poet wants to communicate. Poetry conveys that thought in a self-conscious manner through a special structuring of the language that calls attention to the "how" of the message as well as the "what". In fact, in good poetry, the how and the what are indistinguishable.
As Robert Alter puts it, poetry isn't just a set of techniques for saying impressively what you could say otherwise, rather, it's a particular way of imagining the world. So Psalm 29 is talking about the power of God as creator through a poetic exploration of a thunderstorm, but it's structure the language about the thunderstorm, she says, in a self-conscious way. Tim: Yeah, it just repeats the same word like 12 times. Half the lines are about shattering trees. Wouldn't one line have satisfied about the trees? Apparently not because the goal isn't just to communicate information, it's to invite you into an experience.
Jon: I think I know what she means by good poetry the "how" and the "what" become indistinguishable. Help me understand what she means? It's about the power of God that should make spiritual beings bow their knee to Yahweh and should make God's people feel shalom. That's what it's about. Tim: Yeah, you could just write a short statement, "Oh, sons of God, bow the knee to Yahweh. He's very powerful and He blesses his people. Tim: So very clearly, this long poem is saying something through what she calls a self-conscious how.
Tim: The rhythm, the dense, overlapping repetitions. It's self-conscious. Somebody sat down and crafted all those lines very carefully. Again, it's easier seeing it in color, but there is key repeated words right at the beginning, right at the end that link different things together. So someone worked for days and days on this thing. And that's what she means the how. In good poetry, the how it's self-communicates the what, along with the what.
Jon: Because the poet could have easily just written a statement, but that wasn't enough for the poet. The poet wanted you to experience the statement in a way that made the statement come to life in a new way. Tim: So in this case, repeating all of these scenes of thunderstorms shaking things, breaking them apart, shattering and twisting trees, it's all of a sudden the words are doing to you what a shaking, and a quaking and why winds are going to end. Tim: Yeah, it has the energy. Literally, the poetic techniques become a part of the what of the message.
They become indistinguishable. Tim: Actually, the most dangerous animals in the Bible aside from like crazy [inaudible ] in job. The human, the Leviathan is always a lion or the wild ox. Tim: Yeah, yeah. It's massive, massive horn creatures. That fits into the strategy of the poem too. He makes a young calf leap and the ultimate of that species leap. The Wild ox. He makes them the babies leap and the most powerful wild ox leap.
Jon: Like a young wild ox would be like a full grown but still scrappy and ready to dominate? Has something to prove? Jon: Like the older ones they like are tired of charging people and stuff. So you're not as afraid of those. But the young ones, don't mess with those. Tim: That's exactly right. The way I think would be helpful, the role of these videos is to introduce people to Biblical Poetry 1. I want to give people some handles on just the basic things to look for in the communication techniques the biblical poetry is specifically just with language.
That's what video one's about. The art of biblical poetry. Then video two will invite people in just the wild imagination of these authors, and how they use metaphors and imagery. To begin the video, we might want to think about how to invite people into more familiar ways of poetry. Poetry is a language that has a "what" communicate, but it's intentionally pouring energy into the "how. All cultures have ways of doing this, and you could call them poetic conventions, right? So every human culture develops a functional useful language, and then it develops this other Some cultures develop this other type of language that's more reflective, artistic, emotive, we call e caught poetry.
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But it can happen through many types of techniques. The way it happens in the West, mostly, is through rhyme and meter. That's how we typically think of poetry. I just put the silly classic here, but it's such a great example. Tim: You are welcome. I did look you in the eye as I said that. So there are four short lines, each consists of three words, except the last. The fourth has four words. Look at right there. Three lines have three words, the fourth has four words. Jon: Pa, pa, pa, pam.
Pa, pa, pa, pam. Pam, pa, pam. So the fourth one's different. Tim: That's right. There are multiple conventions coming together there. There's rhyme: Blue and you. There are overlapping metaphors: flowers and sugar. There's wordplays: Sugar, sweet. You are sweet. A person is sweet in a really different way.
There's all that. Then there's what's called the meter, which is the syllable patterning. Tim: That's the heritage that in the West, we get, I think, primarily through the English poetic tradition that translated or mediated the ancient Greek lyric poetry tradition. That's like from way back, from the late Kingdom period in Israel the Greeks were up. In like the , BC, the Greeks were up. Tim: Slots are different. Because Shakespeare was mediating a form of iambic pentameter into English poetry.
A lot of his plays are structured by—. Poetry is the type of literature that is originated for sure as an oral art form - composed orally, and performed orally. And once it's written, it takes on a whole other set of characteristics. That's interesting. But then you get Haiku poetry, which isn't about rhyme, but it is about syllables, the pattern. So let's think there. Why would you write in Haiku poetry? The poet is you're taking upon yourself some practice that your culture has, and actually sets limits on you.
Jon: And in this case, that little in whatever your cultural practice is, you also have to structure the language to match these patterns. That is the way you do it. Some case like Shakespeare's, you see his true brilliance, it seems to me, if you could understand the metrical system that he was working within, then you're just like, "His vocabulary was off the charts. He didn't have like thesource. Tim: I really think you're taking on limitations through which you will express something more profound than the normal.
Jon: Because I've written songs and the same thing happens because you're like, "Oh, I need a two syllable word here instead," or "I need something that rhymes. Then that makes you go, "Oh, I never really thought about this, this way. It structures your own understanding of the topic. So the writing of poetry becomes a discovery process.
You're discovering your own language, which then helps you put ideas together and new combinations. Then all of that together creates a dense, artistic statement that Oh, this is a quote that I read when we first got together. It's a classic introduction of poetry by Lawrence Perrine called "Sound and Sense. He says, "Poetry is a kind of human language that says more and says it more intensely than does ordinary language. He's just saying, "The net effect is language that does more than language normally does. I think at the heart, that's what I want this video to be about.
I want to introduce people to some of the conventions and practices, these limits that the poet's take on themselves constructing speech in a rhythm. But the net effect of it is that through these new combinations, poetry carries a surplus of meaning and overabundance of meaning. For me, that's the driving core concept.
Jon: So what's the overabundance of meaning for you in Psalm 29 with the thunder and God's voice? Tim: I think what captures my imagination is it's somebody meditating on the most powerful, again for 3, years ago. And still, today, to be in the middle of a thunderstorm is one of the most humbling experiences. You're puny, you're powerless. So experiencing a thunderstorm is a window into my own nature as a human and to the powers at work that rule and providentially rule over creation, which in Israelite is Yahweh.
It's all of a sudden, this powerful, frightening existential experience of a poet trying to translate that. So this poetic medium becomes a way of inviting the reader into an emotional existential experience of their mortality of Yahweh's repetitive, driving unavoidable nature of these lines over and over again. There's an overabundance of meaning that you could never communicate any other way except through this form, which does it beautifully. I mean, I'm not in the habit of doing my theology by looking at rain clouds.
We live in Portland and we look at a lot of rain clouds. This poet's a Bible nerd, for sure. He's one of the bibilical authors, but he also apparently thinks you should read the rain clouds. Tim: Totally. The other thing this poem is a hyperlink to is the appearance of Yahweh in the Garden of Eden in interrogation scene after the humans take from the tree.
And it says, "The qol, the voice of Yahweh; they heard the voice of Yahweh, the sounds of Yahweh in the wind of the day. But it doesn't say that. It says in the wind. Tim: Yeah, totally. It's a preview. It's a design pattern. It's previewing when Yahweh will show up with Israel at Mount Sinai. And what they see is the qol - the voice. They see the voice of Yahweh. Tim: Oh, they do in chapter 24, but in Exodus 19, they look up at the storm cloud coming over that mountain. And what it says is, "They saw the voice of Yahweh, which is thunder. But it's such a visceral experience, they see it.
So this poem is tapping into a whole design pattern in the biblical narratives about Yahweh showing up when his voice, his command as the creator, it's powerful and inspiring. The poem communicates that. I think when you get into it, the poem does that. That's what I mean the overabundance of meaning. We've already developed the impressionist painting aesthetic, and I'm kind of excited about that visual medium to unpack that somehow, as we talked about different techniques of biblical poetry, it'd be cool if we have lines of poetry that we can ponder together in the video, talk about the technique, but then stuff is growing out of the words.
Such things. Founded by Andrew Motion and Julie Blake in , developed by The Poetry Archive with The Full English , and funded by the Department for Education , Poetry by Heart is a national poetry recitation competition open to all pupils and students in England aged between 14 and It is maintained and developed by The Full English as a resource for a national poetry recitation competition and for teaching and learning about poetry. Just hang on until the last trumpet. You Should have guessed that I do not exist. The poem rests on a powerful paradox. The circularity is intriguing.
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