Sunday, October 07, 2007

FFoB4: Poetry and Religion

There is a close knitted relationship between poetry and religion. This is especially so with the OT prophets because poetry has incredible power to persuade. In speaking about God, the prophets thought it best to use more subtle forms of expressions. It is not only attractive, but arresting and shocking even.

"Poetry has the capacity both to speak about things that are very familiar, and to lead the imagination on to new ways of thinking and understanding. Poems do not give cut and dried meanings, but are often open to several interpretations. It is in this openness that the reader is invited to think about God." G McConville in Exploring the Old Testament v.4 Prophets

- NIV - (Isa 5:1-7)
1 I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside.
2 He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.
3 "Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard.
4 What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?
5 Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled.
6 I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it."
7 The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

With a simple imagery about a vineyard, powerful words about social justice, God's righteousness and His wrath is conveyed. Who is not moved?

In continuing on my series on Chinese Poetry, this is one which expresses thoughts on Buddhism. Note how in the last line, the poet is immersed into silence and nothingness.



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