King James's Bible - Poem by gershon hepner
POETS WHO LOST THEIR WAY IN THE KING JAMES BIBLE
'Baroque prose poets who had lost their way' was the expression
that W. Somerset Maugham
used for the authors of the famous King James Bible version,
demonstrating good form
by Maugham, who added that they had to twist their tongues to speak
like Hebrew prophets who
in King James' version didn't have an Englishman's physique,
far too alien to
be anglicized like characters in William Shakespeare's plays,
from Abraham to Jesus,
above all God, who in the Writings hardly ever stays,
around till Satan teases
poor Job, in an experiment that failed allegedly,
since he refused to curse
Almighty God, responsible for bad theodicy
which cursing won't reverse.
How surprising that it caught on for the people who're downstairs
although written by those who
lived upstairs, pouring an imported spirit which declares
an Israelite worldview.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
Englishmen, ' Maugham grumbled, 'twisted their tongues like Hebrew prophets.' He may have been a bit dismissive, but even so, Maugham struck on an essential quality of the King James style-that it had become at once archaic and familiar. Its verses were second nature to the English-speaking world, but it had never (and has never) lost its particular magisterial tone. It was the household, but not of it.
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