When asked who are some of the greatest poets, one might get responses such as Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson or Maya Angelou, and each of these poets are worthy of being considered great. Frost’s “The Road Less Travelled,” Dickinson’s “Success is Counted Sweetest” and Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” are a few of the most celebrated poems of the last two centuries; however, some of the most defining poets and poems date back much further. They are contained in a book written over 2,000 years ago: the Bible. Whether reading Proverbs, Psalms, or Song of Songs, the Bible is a poetic masterpiece that has endured various forms and movements in poetry.
In this episode of Poetry Unchained, Shaneen Harris is joined with Pastor Ndubuisi Nwade of Akron Bethel Seventh Day Adventist Church in Akron. They discuss biblical text and poetic forms commonly found in the Bible such as parallelism. Parallelism was commonly used in the Old Testament by Hebrew writers who wanted to have ideas reinforced. They used various techniques such as repeating a concept twice, contrasting one thought with another, or simile and metaphor to convey to the listener the importance of what was being taught.
Pastor Nwade highlights some of the biblical verses that use parallelism and then skillfully transforms the verse into a biblical sermon. His passion and dynamic use of rhythm and inflection, as he eloquently shares biblical poetry, resonates within the inner parts of his listener. He reminds us that poetry in the Bible wasn’t meant to appeal to a particular time period, rather the timeless poetic rhythm that exists within each of us.