Wayne asked me to say a little about what I’ve been working on. I have a draft of a book called POET Psalms, in which the letters of POET stands for Poetic Oracle English Translation. My goal has been to convey Hebrew poetry using English verse forms together with devices such as rhyme, meter, sonics, and imagery. The expected result is scriptures which can be easily memorized or set to music. In fact, right now a friend is setting tunes to several of these and we plan to showcase them at BT2011 to be held here in Dallas October 14-18.
A counterweight to the goal of expressing the psalms poetically in English, is the balancing goal of preserving and drawing attention to some important Hebrew language poetic devices, (parallelism, imagery, acrostics, wordplay, and a number of word patterns, such as chiasmus, inclusio, refrain, hinge and aperture) in hopes that English readers might gain an appreciation of them artistically. I try to use as many of the Hebrew devices as possible, without compromising the natural structures and rhythms of English.
Balancing form, content, meaning, and poetic expression means that while I value the shapes and structures of the poetic forms incorporated, I also would rather make slight adjustments in the form, rather than distort the source text semantics. I have made heavy use of Welsh forms which seem particularly adaptable to the content of the Psalms. I also use formatting and fonts to reveal some of the structures of the Psalms.
And while not a slave to one-to-one lexical correspondences, I also try to maintain the uniqueness of words whose forms occur only once or very rarely in either the Psalter or the entire Old Testament.
I’ll let this be all for now except for giving a few examples below.
–Brenda Boerger, Ph.D (click on this link for information about me)
LOST and FOUND
a psalm of trust
Tune: (C.M. Ascription, Ballerma, etc.)
1 Yahweh, good shepherd, I’m your sheep.
You give me what I need—
2 In verdant fields I eat and sleep,
Drink at streams where you lead.
3 You bring me back when I’ve gone wrong; 
Guide once more in your way.
For that’s one way your love is shown,
As you protect your name.
5 Then when I’m found, you throw a feast.
You pour oil on your guest.
My foes seethe. I deserve it least.
But you serve me your best.
And though I should be serving you,
My goblet’s filled with wine.
6 With love and blessings you pursue.
You host me for all time.
 23:3 In his book, Finding the Lost: Cultural Keys to Luke 15, Kenneth E. Bailey (1992) spends 200 pages convincingly arguing for parallels between Psalm 23 and Luke 15 (the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son). His insightful analysis leads to slight adjustments and reinterpretations of standard renderings of this psalm. The Hebrew of verse three is literally, ‘he brings me back’ or ‘he causes me to repent’. And since only a sheep that has wandered off would have to be brought back, that is included, too.
 23:4 The phrase “valley of the shadow of death” in many translations may not be the best representation of the Hebrew. The word translated ‘valley’ can also mean ‘in the midst’ and the word translated ‘shadow of death’ is elsewhere translated ‘darkness’. It may be a compound meaning ‘darkness of death’. Most scholars think it is a metaphor for great danger, which is the sense captured by POET’s ‘dark times or storms.’
 23:4 The classic “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me,” has problems, since one doesn’t normally think of tools or weapons as comforting. Instead the comfort comes from the feeling of safety when walking with a strong protector. When sheep were caught in briars, the crook could be used to pull them out.
 23:5 Bailey (1992) connects verse 5 to Luke 15’s feast celebrating the return of the prodigal son. Doing this in the presence of someone’s enemies meant that the one being feasted had the protection of the host. Preparing the table of the Lord in the Temple was fairly simple. But when the Lord prepares a table for us instead, the feast is extravagant. POET tries to capture some of these more obscure allusions which Bailey brings to light.
 23:6 In line a, the traditional ‘goodness’ and ‘mercy’ are translated ‘blessings’ and ‘love’. This is the only place in the OT that the verb ‘pursue’ is used of good things. Usually one’s enemies pursue with intent to harm. So it is reassuring that the Lord pursues his own with blessings and love. Line b, reflects the custom of the Middle East, which allows a guest to stay in the home of his host for an extended time. Here Yahweh is seen as the one who hosts his people permanently.
Stay tuned! There’s more to come in subsequent posts.