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Archive for March, 2013


 rembrandt-apostle-paul-in-prison

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I like this little chiasmus.  I like that B and B’ have Jesus and Christ written chiastically (reversing):   B  Jesus Christ;  B’  Christ Jesus.  The ‘center is also quite strong:   E  suffer hardship;  F  imprisonment;  F’  imprisoned;  E’  “endure all things”.  F and F’ make a fairly strong center, focusing on the specific of Paul’s suffering:  “imprisonment as a criminal”.  In contrast, God’s word (message) cannot be imprisoned.  The world of the flesh and the world of the Spirit are two different things. 

Note also how the chiasmus moves from past to present to future things. 

Overall, an enjoyable little chiasmus.

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A    [Me: Looking to the Past:]  8  Remember   

B    a    Jesus    b    Christ,

C    risen from the dead,

D    descendant of David – according to my gospel

E    9  for which I suffer hardship

F    even to imprisonment as a criminal;

F’   but the word of God is not imprisoned.

E’   10  For this reason I endure all things

D’   for the sake of those who are chosen,

C’   that they also may obtain the salvation

B’   which is in    b’    Christ    a’    Jesus

A’    [Me: Looking to the Future:]  and with it eternal glory.

***

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ng-Chains-Broken-Freedom-From-Slavery-amysorrells_files__wordpress_com+2009+10+silhouette20standing20chains20broken20freedom20from20slavery_jpg

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A    20  Let each man remain in that condition in which he was called.

B    [Me:  Freedom is better]  21  Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that.

C    a    22  For he who was called in the Lord while a slave,    b    is the Lord’s freedman;    b’    likewise he who was called while free,    a’    is Christ’s slave.

B’   [Me:  Freedom is better]  23  You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

A’   24  Brethren, let each man remain with God in that condition in which he was called.

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tyger_tyger_burning_bright_by_snowsowhite-d3eu71h

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I love this poem! 

‘The Tyger’ was written by William Blake in 1794.  Personally, I think he wrote it symmetrically – as a chiasmus.  If so, then his use of the word “symmetry” at the end of A and A’, referring to the symmetry of the tyger, carries additional and special meaning:  it may also refer to the structure of his poem. 

I might as well say it now.  In addition to the symmetry of the tyger and the symmetry of the poem, there is also a “fearful symmetry” between the ‘deadliness’ of the tyger and ‘beauty’ (“burning bright”,”symmetry”) of the tyger.  The two concepts are in stark contrast.  Opposed yet fused, conceptually battling.  Ultimately, this opposition raises a question for us regarding God:  “What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?” and, “Did he smile his work to see?  Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”  …  Ultimately the poem is raising the question of God, and Good and Evil – at least on the level of the animal kingdom … (e.g., Tennyson’s “… Nature, red in tooth and claw” ).

Here’s how I think Blake’s symmetrical poem works:

A and A’ are identical.  A perfect match.  A and A’ form ‘inclusions’, or book-ends, for the poem. 

B and B’ refer to a) skies, stars, and heavens, b) distant deeps, watered, and tears, and c) eyes and tears.  The poem begins ‘far away’, perhaps alluding to the mysterious dwelling place of God, or God’s mind, the tyger’s creator.  It also alludes to the problem of Good and Evil (“dare he aspire”, “dare seize the fire”, “spears”, and “tears”). In addition, B1 begins a metaphor of God as ‘blacksmith’, about to pound out his creation (“what the hand dare seize the fire”).  The fire being necessary to bend the blacksmith’s steel.

C1a and C’1a deepen the imagery of the blacksmith.  You can easily picture the “shoulder” in C1a at work with the “hammer” and “chain” in C’1a.  It’s the blacksmith’s own body that “art”(fully) creates the work.  The shoulder swings, the hammer strikes, the shape takes form. 

C1b and C’1b again continue the imagery of the blacksmith with “twist” – as might be done with hot steel – and “furnace”. 

C1b ends by referring to the formation of the tyger’s “heart”, while C’1b refers to the tyger’s “brain”, the driving forces within the tyger, giving it life and direction, mind and soul .  The ‘metal’ becomes animate.  …  Alive!

Finally, in C2 and C’2 we arrive at the the terror of the tyger, the tyger in motion – it’s “dreaded grasp”, it’s “hand”, it’s “feet”, it’s “grasp”, it’s “clasp”.  “Dread” is used in both sections; “deadly” is used in C2 and its rhyming with “dread” plays in the reader’s mind as happy remorse – the beauty of rhyme embracing the tyger’s killing instincts – echoeing again the dilemma of both good and evil in creation.

And so then, there it is.  We have arrived at the end of a chiastic center of Blake’s “Tyger”.  From distant God to destroying Tyger.  Traversing both art and fear, creation and destruction. Life and death.

And questions of  Good and Evil.     :

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

A beautiful poem.

I suppose one other point.  Some think that the Lamb in this poem might refer to Jesus (the “Lamb of God”).  Hmmm.  If so, I can’t help thinking, who then the tyger? 

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A

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

B

1

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
2

On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?

C

1

And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

2

And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

C

1

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
2

What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

B’

1

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
2

Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

A’

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

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