In my last epistle I reported to you that Summer Lent is about to end with the celebration of Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, and that I was with my wife on the road west to Portland, Oregon by way of Fort Collins, San Francisco and Redding California and back again. I am, indeed, back and I now must report that the Fall has prematurely ended. We now have counted a second snow, this latest accompanied with some serious cold. I still have Fall projects which may yet be doable if the ground is not frozen, but, not with the relish one usually anticipates.
That side track, which is probably a misnomer, since at my point in life every thing is a side track, has not so surprisingly been itself side tracked, this time by my routine study of the Hebrew Book of Psalms, which resumed on my return home. I was suddenly caught up in a close study of Psalm 22 which I could not shake. You will recognize this psalm because its opening line provide the passion narrative of the synoptic gospels with the line: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me." The accommodation of this Psalm by Christians to their passion narrative has given rise to much dispute which unfortunately has deflected from viewing the psalm in its original context and its artistic unity which makes it one of the truly poetic masterpieces of the Psalter. I have at last reached some closure and if you are interested you can see the results posted under the label Hebrew Psalms: Praying the Narrative. The study, entitled "Beyond Death, Who will speak of God’s deeds?" attempts to identify the psalm's original context and message and it includes a new translation of verses 23-31. Under the label Jesus and the Meta Narrative that study is continued with a discussion of accommodation, Christian and otherwise. It raises the question of whether the Christian accommodation of the psalm actually began with Jesus, himself. This was the topic of an original poem of mine that appears in a collection, "On Winter in the Orchards of Ephraim." This poem, "How will Death Speak?" explores the possibility of Jesus's own meditations was the source of accommodation.
In the coming week I hope to get back to work on the poetry of Friedrich Holderlin, the German Romantic poet. I am particularly interested in a couple of selections from his letters and essays which clarify the foundation of his poetic vision. Holderlin's work and its fate provides a poignant lesson on the use of poetics as a means of reconstituting a narrative. This is pertinent to our own problems for our narratives have been buried under an avalanche of conflict politics. Responding to countering conflict with its own terms only ensure that a conflict life will continue. We need poets who can give a story that allows to walk our way out of it.