How learning to ‘leyn’ Torah helped me connect with long-lost ancestors
From one of our most admired poets, a brilliant retelling of the life of one of the most complex figures in the Bible. Poet, warrior, and king, David has loomed large in myth and legend through the centuries, and he continues to haunt our collective imagination, his flaws and inconsistencies making him the most approachable of biblical heroes. Robert Pinsky, former poet laureate of the United States, plumbs the depths of David’s life: his triumphs and his failures, his charm and his cruelty, his divine destiny and his human humiliations. Drawing on the biblical chronicle of David’s life as well as on the later commentaries and the Psalms—traditionally considered to be David’s own words—Pinsky teases apart the many strands of David’s story and reweaves them into a glorious narrative. Under the clarifying and captivating light of Pinsky’s erudition and imagination, and his mastery of image and expression, King David—both the man and the idea of the man—is brought brilliantly to life.
“Pinsky’s language and insights are gorgeous, as we have come to expect from his poetry and his prose about poetry, and one finishes “The Life of David” with a sense of King David as a Shakespearean figur—the Bard himself, along with Hamlet, King Lear and Henry IV, all wrapped into one.” Continue reading
“Episode by episode, Pinsky braids narrative together with literary interpretation and psychological conjecture, drawing out patterns of correspondence, filling gaps in the record with acutely engaged speculation. Bypassing the accretions of 30 centuries of piety and veneration, peering behind the Bible’s spare record of action and speech, Pinsky seeks to discern the feelings and intentions of the living person from whom the myth of David sprang.” Continue reading
“One would think that what would most interest a poet is David the poet (most of the biblical Psalms are ascribed to David). But that is to assume poetry is about language instead of about the world. What engages Pinsky is this character who leaps off the page: the rake who schemes until his literal dying breath, but who is also a man of exquisitely sensitive understanding and eloquent emotion.” Continue reading
ROBERT PINSKY is the author of many books of poetry, including Jersey Rain and The Figured Wheel, and of the award-winning translation The Inferno of Dante. His prose works include The Situation of Poetry and The Sounds of Poetry. He … Continue reading