A Psalm from an Elizabethan Poet

March 28 2023

Around the same time that Protestant scholars were refining and revising the translation that would eventually become the King James Bible, a young diplomat and poet named Philip Sidney (1554–1586) set to work producing a verse version of the book of Psalms, conforming to his own ideas about meter and prosody. Jospeh Bottum provides some background:

[Sidney’s] sonnet cycle Astrophel and Stella, with its experimental riffs on Petrarch’s rhyme scheme, helped to establish the sonnet in English as a flexible, innovative form.  He wrote a romance, Arcadia, and a Defence of Poetry. Yet it was left to his friend, biographer, and fellow poet, Fulke Greville (1554–1628), to instigate the posthumous publication of these works.

The versifying of the psalms has a long history in English verse, particularly in the making of metrical versions that could be sung by Protestant congregations. . . . In Sidney’s case, by the time of his death (from injuries in the battle of Zutphen), the 16th-century poet had completed only 43 verse psalms. His sister, Mary Sidney, finished the project and, in 1599, presented a copy to the queen.

Sidney’s “Psalm XIII,” which, according to Botttom, “reflects the experimental energy Sidney brought to the making of verse,” begins thus:

How long, O Lord, shall I forgotten be?
What, ever?
How long wilt Thou Thy hidden face from me

How long shall I consult with careful sprite
In anguish?
How long shall I with foes’ triumphant might
Thus languish?

Read more at New York Sun

More about: English literature, Poetry, Psalms

Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada