Saturday, November 22, 2014

Acrostic lament

I just received Dennis Pardee's The Ugaritic Texts and the Origins of West-Semitic Literary Composition via Interlibrary Loan today and have been reading it. Good stuff! Mainly philological stuff that doesn't lend itself to extracts very well. But this one, toward the end of the book is an interesting thought:
Four of the five chapters of this book [Lamentations] show a structure without parallel in Ugaritic literature, that of the acrostic: the first word of each verse beings with a letter of the alphabet in the order of alphabetic recitation—in the case of ch. 3, the verses are arranged as stanzas consisting each of three bicola, each of which begins with the required letter of the alphabet. The procedure may appear artificial to us, but its purpose appears to be that of imposing absolute order on grief so as to objectify it and lessen its power. (page 118)
<idle musing>
Fascinating idea, isn't it? Using poetic technique to get life back under control, so to speak!
</idle musing>

No comments: