Monday, May 30, 2011

rhetoric of Ruth

Spread your wings over me, I reply
and his cloak billows high.

Now he clasps my foreign hand
and kisses the tips of my fingers
now skin glides against skin
and the seed of salvation grows in me
the outsider, the forbidden

With these lines, Rachel Barenblat helps her readers hear the poetry in the voice of someone called

רות המואביה
Ρουθ ἡ Μωαβῖτις
"Ruth, the Moabite."

Just after the Bible introduces her to readers as such, and just before it introduces her to a real insider (the more familiar man who discovers her), it complicates with race, class, and gender a considerably difficult rhetorical situation:

So Naomi returned, 
and Ruth the Mo-Abit-ess, 
her daughter-in-law, with her, 
who returned out of the field of Moab
--and they came to Beth-lehem in the beginning of barley harvest.

names and significances:

Naomi, "Delight of Mine," calling herself "Mara" or "Bitterness"

Ruth, "Friend"

Mo Abite ess, "Father? what father does this female have?"

Mo Ab, "Father? what father?"

Beth-lehem, "Bread-house"


Kristen said...

I'm so glad you shared that lovely poem and linked it here. Deeply moving.

J. K. Gayle said...

Yes, Kristen, I agree. The poem and its story move me deeply.