Psalm 1: Alliterative Paraphrase
Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I was enjoying the Old English-style poem that I wrote for my Futhark experiment, and I wanted to do something else in the same style.  I happened to be skimming through a book I have on early English Christian poetry, and came across a passage in which the author paraphrased some scripture.  I thought that might be a very nice subject.  After all, the Psalms are poems, translated into English; why not paraphrase them in such a way as to fit them into an English poetic form?  So that's what I did with the first Psalm.

In case you're not familiar with the style, Old English alliterative verse has 4 accented syllables in a line, with a break in the middle, and at least 2 of the accented syllables should alliterate (start with the same sound) — preferably at least one from each half.  The accented syllable does not have to be the first syllable in the word.  All vowels are considered to alliterate with one another.

Here is the result:

Psalm 1

Happy is he   who heeds not the heathen
nor stands with sinners,   nor sits with the scornful;
but he delights himself   in the law of the Lord,
and meditates on His word   morning and night.

He shall be like a tree,   tall and verdant,
Planted in peace   by the purest of rivers,
bearing succulent fruit   season by season;
whose leaf shall not wither   nor waste away,
but all his plans   shall prosper in plenitude.

But the wicked can only   wish it were so;
like chaff in the wind,   they'll be whisked away.
Thus the unjust   will not escape judgment,
Nor will sinners stand   in the assembly of saints.

For the Lord watches   the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked   will be laid to waste.


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The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
He has compassion on all He has made.

— Psalm 145:8-9,13-20
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