Recently, students in 12th grade British Literature and Composition Honors were asked to convert a section of Job 38 or 39 into ten lines of iambic pentameter. This assignment is part of a larger, year-long unit covering poetry and tackles a few objectives in one: it helps students see the different genre types in scripture, it gives them practice counting syllables and determining the stressed-unstressed pattern of iambic pentameter, it is both a write-to-learn and a learn-to-write endeavor, it gives students the opportunity to present in front of the class, and it gets their creative juices flowing.
Especially for students who may struggle with the “invention” canon of writing, having them construct work inspired by something already created can help set them up for success and make the writing process less burdensome. Not to mention, in terms of being made in the image of God, it allows them to fulfill their role as sub-creators, those who create not from nothing (which only God can do), but those who create from what has already been created.
The following is a submission from one of our students, who chose Job 38:16-33 as inspiration for his poem’s content.
Job Iambic Pentameter: Job 38:16-33
by Lawrence Myers
Do you know the vastness of the ocean,
Or have you looked death into its dark eyes?
Show me the nature of the dark and light,
For your days outnumber their existence.
Do you not know the weather and its ways,
And have you not yourself the path to life?
Who is he that controls the rain with might,
And who is he that casts thunder on earth?
For by this way the earth is then nourished,
And the grass breaks through the deserted land.
Does the rain and the dew have a father?
From whence came the ice and the frost of heaven?
Frozen and hard become the earth’s waters.
For who but you can overtake the strong,
And who but you can set in place the skies?