Baruch and Jacobus Rex

As an interesting comparison, below one may compare three editions of the King James Version of Baruch 3.9-14. The first is the text of the 1611 edition, in its original orthography. The second is the Oxford Bible text, the edition of the King James of 1769, which is what most of us are familiar with as the King James Bible. The third is the edition of David Norton, from the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible (paperback corrected edition, 2006). Norton’s editorial work or recovering the original text of the King James Bible is described in detail in A Textual History of the King James Bible. This text is very nice. Even though it’s a paperback, it’s rapidly becoming a favorite of mine in my Bible collection, for the sheer quality of the translation. We can look forward, the publisher told me, to further bindings of this corrected text of the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible later this year. In any case, notice the simple corrections that Norton has made to the text, and listen to how much better it flows, even in this obscure passage in Baruch. The text really does become poetry in Norton’s edition, metrically balanced, but not adhering to a rigid metric scheme. It’s truly free verse three hundred years before its time, really. Enjoy.

1611 Edition
Heare, Israel, the commandements of life,
giue eare to vnderstand wisedome.
How happeneth it, Israel, that thou art in thine enemies land,
that thou art waxen old in a strange countrey,
that thou art defiled with the dead?
That thou art counted with them that goe downe into the graue?
Thou hast forsaken the fountaine of wisedome.
For if thou hadst walked in the way of God,
thou shouldest haue dwelled in peace for euer.
Learne where is wisedome, where is strength, where is vnderstanding,
that thou mayest know also where is length of daies, and life,
where is the light of the eyes and peace.

1769 Edition
Hear, Israel, the commandments of life:
give ear to understand wisdom.
How happeneth it Israel, that thou art in thine enemies’ land,
that thou art waxen old in a strange country,
that thou art defiled with the dead,
That thou art counted with them that go down into the grave?
Thou hast forsaken the fountain of wisdom.
For if thou hadst walked in the way of God,
thou shouldest have dwelled in peace for ever.
Learn where is wisdom, where is strength, where is understanding;
that thou mayest know also where is length of days, and life,
where is the light of the eyes, and peace.

2006 Edition
Hear, Israel, the commandments of life:
give ear to understand wisdom.
How happeneth it, Israel, that thou art in thy enemies’ land,
that thou art waxed old in a strange country,
that thou art defiled with the dead,
that thou art counted with them that go down into the grave?
Thou hast forsaken the fountain of wisdom.
For if thou hadst walked in the way of God,
thou shouldst have dwelt in peace for ever.
Learn where is wisdom, where is strength, where is understanding,
that thou mayest know also where is length of days, and life,
where is the light of the eyes, and peace.

The First Spring Day

I wonder if the sap is stirring yet,
If wintry birds are dreaming of a mate,
If frozen snowdrops feel as yet the sun
And crocus fires are kindling one by one:
     Sing, robin, sing;
I still am sore in doubt concerning Spring.

I wonder if the Springtide of this year
Will bring another Spring both lost and dear;
If heart and spirit will find out their Spring,
Or if the world alone will bud and sing:
     Sing, hope, to me;
Sweet notes, my hope, soft notes for memory.

The sap will surely quicken soon or late,
The tardiest bird will twitter to a mate;
The Spring must dawn again with warmth and bloom,
Or in this world, or in the world to come:
     Sing, voice of Spring,
Till I too blossom and rejoice and sing.

Christina Georgina Rossetti, 1 March 1855