There’s a really interesting and inspirational Bible passage that comes from the book titled The Song of Solomon in the Old Testament of the Bible. The reason why I find it so fascinating is because it’s basically just an ancient love poem from a king to a common woman who he wants to wed. There’s a specific section in the book that I find especially interesting and want to share. I hope you like it as well. Here it is in the old King James version:
“For love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.”
The passage comes from the 8th and final chapter of the book and is something like a conclusion to the poem today verse. I find it very interesting and inspirational because it’s not at all the kind of verse that a person expects to find in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament.
I’ve really enjoyed having the chance to read a lot of ancient poetry. I’ve read the ancient Chinese book the Tao Te Ching many times and really connect with it. I’ve also read a lot of the poetry of the ancient Persian poet Rumi. Ancient poetry is so much different than the poetry found in the modern world. It isn’t necessarily that the people living then were different than we are today, but the world and the way they saw the world was much more mysterious, dangerous, and unknown than the world that we live in today.
The Bible in actuality, has multiple books of poetry, like the book of Psalms for example, and when translating these books of ancient poetry it really seems as though the translators were concentrated more on being strictly accurate than they were about capturing the original beauty and poetic nature of the text. In ancient texts like the Tao Te Ching, modern English translations have spent much effort and diligence in trying to capture the poetic value of the poems, even trying to rhyme in English when it suits the text.
From my understanding, no one has yet tried to do something like this with the book of Psalms in the Bible. I really wish that a concerted effort would be made to do something like that because, as you saw in the passage I listed above, the Bible has a very poetic value to it at times, and that value is most often sacrificed in lieu of translational accuracy. But if a piece of text was meant to be read in a poetic fashion and that poetic value gets lost in the translation, then why does a person even bother translating the text in the first place?
Poetry is considered a mechanism for eliciting an emotional response from the reader. The words themselves are important, but in the strictest sense, if the right emotional response wasn’t elicited while the reader reads the poetry, then the actual message wasn’t conveyed. Otherwise, there’s really no reason to communicate in poetic language. But most of what I’ve seen from the book of Psalms has been from persons who don’t seem to necessarily care about keeping the original poetic value of the words intact. I hope one day that someone endeavors to undertake that project.