Barnstone, Willis (translator). “Poets of the Bible: From Solomon’s Song of Songs to John’s Revelation”, W.W. Norton, 2017.
Restoring Lyricism and Power
Every time I pick up my bible, I am astounded how it always reads differently and how I am transported to many places and events by its magical language. Because so much of the bible comes to us in prose form, we seem to forget that some of the greatest poetry in the world is in the holy writings. Willis Barnstone does not want to let that continue and he goes back to both the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible and restores the lyricism that we lost in the prose translations thus showing us the power of poetry in the texts that are centuries old.
In the Hebrew Bible, we have new translations of Song of Songs, Psalms, Job and Isaiah. The Christian Bible’s poetry is in the speeches of Jesus speaks, Paul and John of Patmos. roars majestically in Revelation, the Bible’s epic poem. Barnstone’s book contains major biblical poem from Genesis and Adam and Eve in the Garden to the last pages of Alpha and Omega in Paradise.
While reading these passages in poetic form we discover new lyricism, clarity and even mystery. The sheer beauty of the word astounds the ear and the mind and I found that at times I was reading passages that were brand new and I love that.
Barnstone has brought scripture to new dimensions by taking away translations into prose and rendered them into poetic form in which humanity takes over. There is no more need for literalist translations.
These new translations from the Hebrew and the Greek bring new language and meanings to passages we have read since childhood. Additional Barnstone provides introductions to each poet that are also new in that the author’s research brought him to learn about those who wrote these passages initially.
“Willis Barnstone shows us the religion in poetry and the poetry in religion, and, best of all, how poetry flows from one religion to another.