Thursday, December 07, 2006

Davidic Verse

Working up my talk on King David, I compiled a handful of poems that mention or deploy him. I'll post them over the next few days, just to keep things moving along here before the late-December break.

Here's one by Charles Reznikoff. I love how he embeds a line of iambic pentameter in the free verse of the poem as a whole, precisely at the moment when David (or his equivalent, in this case) declines the weapons of King Saul. What a fresh, surprising figure for the (Jewish) (American) modern poet's relationship to (British) (Christian) prosodic tradition!
from the sequence "Autobiography: New York"

X

I do not believe that David killed Goliath.
It must have been---
you will find the name in the list of David's captains.
But, whoever it was, he was no fool
when he took off the helmet
and put down the sword and the spear and the shield
and said, The weapons you have given me are good,
but they are not mine:
I will fight in my own way
with a couple of pebbles and a sling.

--Going To and Fro and Walking Up and Down (1941)