The Poets of the Old Testament

By Alex. R. Gordon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
Golden Treasuries of National Poetry

THE folk-songs that formed the subject of the preceding chapters were inspired by no literary ambition. In some moment of warm personal feeling, or under the impulse of a thrilling national experience, the poets gave forth in song the feelings that stirred their own hearts. And for the most part these effusions passed away with the occasion that gave them birth. Only a few select gems found a lodgment in the hearts of the people--perhaps for the haunting beauty of the words or melody, though more usually, no doubt, for the theme that inspired them--and thus entered into the spiritual inheritance of the nation. As the generations rolled on, the treasury of popular poetry was continually enriched with the golden odes of more finely endowed souls that merited a real claim to immortality. With the dawn of literature there emerged also guilds of professional singers or minstrels--like the Greek ἀοιδδός and the Arabic râwî or reciter--whose function it was to keep alive the poetic glories of their people. But as a rule it was not till the national

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