Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Language about Lines

Once more to look at differing sets of terms for describing the container structures in a poem. Our traditional visual absorption of Biblical poetry, if we are lucky enough not to get just a square borderless box with letters in it, includes words, lines, and verses in psalms. Occasionally an extra space will demarcate a set of verses. Sometimes a Psalm will be divided into parts. None of these divisions obeys the 'general rule' of Hobbins. In the glossary and other articles on poetic structure at his site, he also uses the terms of other scholars. I have noted a couple I have heard or seen where I think they might lie in relation to what our eyes observe on the typical page.

Some Bibles do use indentation to show that the words are in poetry. While this is helpful in reading, the indentation and line lengths I have noted seem to be arbitrary, one might say without rhyme or reason. Sometimes these visual constraints are determined by paper size and other publishing considerations. And of course there are the translation issues that are unavoidably complex.

If I have these right, [update - and I don't - see later post] then the lines of Isaiah 40 in my previous post are lines = phonological phrases = cola [wrong - they are versets; lines combine them]. These are the units I will try to put in 'one' box in revised diagrams. My draft diagrams are at the even lower than verset or prosodic word layer (sort of).

If the general rule is right, then Psalm 119 should divide nicely into sections (perhaps enjambed over parts) and stanzas. We'll see when it comes off the back burner.

The other thing to notice is that it is hard to concentrate on more than 3 levels at once.

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