Did you know that one of the world’s most sensual love poems is contained in an Old Testament book? Or that Whitman’s revolutionary poetic opus, Leaves of Grass, was not so much a departure from the strict forms of the day, but a return to the cadence and devices of Biblical Poetry?
Roughly 1/3 of the Old Testament is written in poetry, much of it penned by King Solomon, one of the first poets to write openly about intimate subjects, including sexual longing.
That’s right! Not nearly the stuffy old book that as you thought it was. Now bear with me.
Even the New Testament, though it is often overshadowed by theology, is a source of beautiful poetic works. The Gospel of Luke is especially ripe with it. The poems known as the Magnificat, the Benedictus and the Gloria in Excelius are just some of the poetic passages found in this book.
James and John the Baptist also got in on the act. The former has been called an impassioned poet of social justice, and the latter, well, just reread those desert passages. Whew!
And no matter your religious background, the Bible can be a great teacher of poetic device. Solomon was known as the original master of image, metaphor and simile. And besides those devices, you can count on extensive examples of parallelism in the Hebrew poetic passages. You will also learn about lyrics, acrostics, fables in verse, and even dramatic epic poetry. The entire book of Job is one long poem that was meant to be performed by actors reading it aloud much like Homer’s Illiad and the Odyssey were in their time.
Even a shallow examination of the poetic writings in the “Great Book” can yield valuable lessons for your own writing. It inspired greats like Milton, Dante and Whitman. Even Shakespeare. And more recently, poets such as Piercy, Jarman and Levertov.
If you would like to begin your own study, download the free booklet below. I’ve pulled together study notes and artwork from various sources, solely for educational purposes. I hope you enjoy.