"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Polygamy in Poem; English Throughout the World

Despite my having received these twelve wonderful books for Christmas and being in the midst of reading the one whence my miracles post came, I made the mistake of dropping by the local library the other day and had to take a peek at the New Books shelves.  And, dadgumit, two books jumped off the shelf into my arms and came home with me!

I'm still reading Jesus Before Christianity (in fact the chapter on prestige and its relation to Jesus saying we should be like little children was great) and have completely finished two books from The Christmas Dozen.  Yet the library books need to be read before they are due in three weeks so I started The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible 1611-2011 by Melvyn Bragg. He's English so the book has those delightful English spellings and it's really so interesting to me to read an Englishman's thoughts on the KJB and its impact on Britain as well as the United States. 

In a chapter discussing the Bible and literature, I read this excerpt from John Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel about polygamy and found it cute enough to share (although anyone who knows me, probably realizes that I find polygyny as it's practiced for the most part, anything but 'cute.' Aaaaaand, in reality, this poem isn't so much 'cute' either as it's just witty....yes, let's say it's witty.)

In pious times, e'r Priest-craft did begin,
Before Polygamy was made a sin;
When man, on many, multiply'd his kind,
E'r one to one was, cursedly, confind:
When Nature prompted, and no law deny'd
Promiscuous use of Concubine and Bride;
Then, Israel's monarch, after Heaven's own heart,
His vigorous warmth did, variously, impart
To Wives and Slaves; And, wide as his Command,
Scatter'd his Maker's Image through the Land.

see the rest of this poem and more context here

This book is also where I got the John Adams quote which I posted on Facebook yesterday. I thought it was interesting especially after reading The English Is Coming! last year.
"English is destined to be in the next and succeeding centuries more generally the language of the world than Latin was in the last or French is in the present age. The reason of this is obvious, because the increasing population in America, and their universal connection and correspondence with all nations will, aided by the influence of England in the world, whether great or small, force their language into general use, in spite of all the obstacles that may be thrown in their way, if any such there should be."

—John Adams, Letter to Congress, 1780

Your turn: what do you think of either John Adams' thoughts on English or John Dryden's poem?  Would you describe it as "witty" or "cute" or something else entirely?


observant observer said...

Agree on John Adams, English has become the international languange, considering the American (and perhaps some UK) pop culture that has invaded the world. I myself think that it gives a lot of benefit globally, people can cross (beyond the borders of culture, politics and so on) communicate easily. But I think people with their distinct languages benefit more, since they still keep their mother tongue, they do have two cultures or more maintained to keep them rooted to their land, they are exposed to more choices and options. I don't think I'm fluent enough in English or could say that English is my second language, but at least I understand it generally . And people in my country usually keep more than 2 languages, one is the national, then the tribes tongue (which are very diverse too), and English is becoming more important to master though most people only understand it passively. Schools which are conducted in both English and national language have become more favorable now. So I think English will someday become mandatory of business here as well a necessity for socializing. Indeed the world has become flat (in a sense).

Susanne said...

Maybe English is your third language? You do a great job! I'm always impressed with people who know many languages. I wish I did, but I think I'm too old for it now. :)

Samer tells me that it's unfortunate that everyone knows my language because I can't speak in another country without someone around me understanding. By contrast, in Germany he and his Arabic friends can speak without others always understanding them. :D

By the way, his Master's degree program in Germany was in English. I found that odd, but he tells me it's normal. In fact many college programs in the Arab world are in English although Syria was an exception and his Bachelor's degree was in Arabic. (He had to learn the engineering terms in English when he came to Germany because he had learned them in Arabic only. Thankfully he's really smart and learning those terms didn't take much time.)

Thanks for what you shared. I really enjoyed those thoughts!

jaraad said...

What a coincidence that we both wrote about polygamy. Although, polygamy is not a sin in Islam it is not the normal practice among Muslims. What I found interesting though is that when non-Muslim MEN ask me about it they smile in envy :)

Susanne said...

Haha! :D :D Well those men should move to pro-polygamy countries and become Muslims then! Problem solved! ;)

What's also odd is that I had pulled up your article to read and then I saw your comment arrive in my emailbox. Neat timing! :D

Unknown said...

It is kind of cute. :)

I found the Adams quote interesting because I know some people who are very concerned that English will no longer be the primary language in the US. (They've started noticing Spanish translations on food labels, which have been there all my life, they just never looked.) I do wonder if that's changing, though, and if maybe in the future we'll be more like other countries and actually teach our kids to speak multiple languages. I think that would be cool.

Susanne said...

Sanil, I think that would be great if we learned many languages! I wish I had started as a child.

People who think Spanish is taking over seem to be those who "fear" immigrants from Mexico, don't they?

Enjoy your feedback - thanks!

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