Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Incongruous Parallelism

A literary device commonly employed in ancient Hebrew poetry is known as synonymous parallelism. This high-brow term describes a pair of successive lines in verse, known as a couplet, in which the second line repeats the main idea or content of the first, but using different terminology or images. One well known example comes from the Old Testament of the Bible,

"But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities."
, Isaiah 53:5

Another form of this same technique is called antithetical parallelism, and is based on a couplet where the first and second lines connect opposing ideas in marked contrast. Another Old Testament verse provides an example,

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
but the heart of the fool to the left."
, Ecclesiastes 10:2

However, I tend to eschew those commonly recognized forms of poetic parallelism and have adopted instead the form known as incongruous parallelism. This is a technique where I live my life in a way completely opposed to what I know in my heart is right and true. Using incongruous parallelism my actions can go wholly against my professed principles and what I would say are the foundations of my heart. Within this device, I can treat others with contempt and disdain while at the same time praying that God would keep me ever-mindful of the needs of others. I can also beg God for companionship while living life as a hermit. I could go on for pages detailing examples of this form from my own life, but I would guess that this form of poetry, although I can take credit for coining the term, is not one that I alone have mastered.