Poetry human and divine
DOI link for Poetry human and divine
Poetry human and divine book
We ought to be surprised that in the opening of the Book of Genesis, God speaks the world into being. He does not make, build, paint, sing or dance it: he says it. He later gives to Moses tablets of stone ‘written with the finger of God’ (Ex. 31:18); the names of the faithful are ‘written in the book of life’ (Rev. 13:8). Those of us who are writers, and in particular poets or dramatists, can feel pleased that speaking and writing are involved in the creation of the universe and the salvation of humanity. At the same time, we all might tell ourselves that God’s creation of the world in speech is beyond our understanding, as is the relation between the book of life and our own man-made books. Prudence is the appropriate virtue. Nor do we know by what words God produced what we call light, the firmament and so on, since the author of Genesis naturally has recourse to human language, to Hebrew. The same is true of the second kind of divine speech act (should such vocabulary be appropriate), when God calls the light ‘day’ and the darkness ‘night’: his naming likewise escapes us. In a sense, being in the midst of God’s creation, we are surrounded by his words, yet for us they remain silent. We can sense that words and things, a divine language and the presences of the created universe, are at one, but we cannot hear, either, what seems to be the world’s speech in response. We can only listen by faith as ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament announces his handiwork’, as ‘Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night transmits knowledge’ (Ps. 19:2).