Monday, March 18, 2019

Henry Hart Milman

Henry Hart Milman

I have noted above that the image of God as a bird brooding over creation is a commonplace in the Jewish and Christian traditions because the Hebrew word merachephet in Genesis 1:2 translates as "brooding." In our post-Miltonic times, we even find that Milton's Genesis account can migrate rather far afield in its influence. Take this passage from Belshazzar: A Dramatic Poem, published in 1822 by the clergyman, historian, and poet Henry Hart Milman:
A dim oppression loads the air, and sounds
As of vast wings do somewhere seem to brood
And hover on the winds; and I that most
Should tremble for myself, the appointed prey
Of sin, am bow'd, as with enforced compassion,
To think on sorrows not mine own, to weep
O'er those whose laughter and whose song upbraids
My prodigality of mis-spent pity. (page 93)
This is clearly not a creation account, nor is it an uncreation account, unless in a metaphorical sense, for Belshazzar's reign is about to end, but we see Milton's influence, especially in the words "vast" and "wings."



At 10:45 AM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...

Can you tell us more about this word merachephet? Also, what exegesis does the Talmud offer on the word (if it does), and, also, what is the commentary on Genesis 2:1?

At 6:51 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

That's a lot of homework! This can be useful.

Try googling "Milton's Muse As Brooding Dove: Unstable Image on a Chaos of Sources." That might lead to an online, downloadable PDF.

As for the Talmud, there are some online.

Jeffery Hodges

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