Michael Shepherd

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! ! Minutes Of A Day's Work On The Bible

Around 1608; a pleasant day in Cambridge;
eight men sit round a table. Originally there were nine:
Dr Lively who presided at their speedy start
is now departed their distinguished company;
gave his lively life to this great enterprise, some say.

Among them still, the greatest of divines and
Hebrew scholars of their day.
This, the seventh version of the Bible
through its history; ‘seven times purified’
as the Bible says itself,
through Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin,
and English versions over centuries…

Since 1604, they’ve worked upon their
allotted section of the Bible; one sixth;
now they’re on the 'Canticles'; today
it’s Psalm 46: God is our hope and strength,
a very present help in trouble…

They have arrived now at the final verses:
God has stilled the warring armies
of the outer world; and now to still the inner world…

‘Lette goe; and knowe thatte I am Godde’..
that, the learned Hebrew scholars say,
is how it actually translates…

‘Bee stille and knowe..’ they find in earlier translation;
which command should they pass down
to centuries to come? Which sound tells the soul
the most, of its true nature? Or which sound will aid the soul
the quickest to return to its true self?

The scholars and divines, (all 54 of them in sum)
work at phenomenal, at godly, speed;
this is the great work of their lives;
‘Let go’; ‘Be still’ – which has more
the ring of soul’s eternity?

All have done their homework; rolled the words
around their tongue, their mind; heard them
uttered from the pulpit of their inner house of God;
a brief discussion; summary arms then raised in silent vote;

one command, they have agreed,
is for our present help in trouble, for
the moment now; the other is for ever;
the soul’s instruction from its peaceful self;
as God speaks to the angels, who
speak to the hearts of men:

the room falls silent; while
the secretary scratches in the wet black ink:

‘Be still and know that I Am God’

Poem Submitted: Thursday, November 20, 2008

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Comments about ! ! Minutes Of A Day's Work On The Bible by Michael Shepherd

  • Tara very irritated with PH injustice (11/21/2008 8:43:00 AM)

    This had me absolutely enchanted. And as so often you teach without preaching. Wonderful as ever M. t x

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  • Frank James Ryan Jr...fjrFrank James Ryan Jr...fjr (11/20/2008 2:32:00 PM)

    Facinating write, Michael...structured with virtual flawlessness.I think Donne would have enjoyed this offering, especially being that he began writing his Holy Sonnets, in 1607, followed by his ordaination as a Priest, in 1615...Rock Solid, my good friend!


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