The Support Verses, Earliest Sayings of the Buddha/ The Beatitudes
An excerpt from the 423 Verses of The Dhammapada, Dhp Pāli, translated and adapted into blank verse (iambic pentameter).
Stanza One: Repetitions.
1. The mind gives life shape; we’ll be what we think.
Thoughts pull suffering like oxen pull carts.
2. Our minds give life shape; we are as we think.
Good- or ill-thinking: joy or misery.
3. “Angry, they hurt me, beat me, took my stuff!”
Thinking these things, you will be trapped by hate.
4. “In anger, they beat me, hurt me, and won!”
If these thoughts have no power, you are free.
5. See? Hate cannot end hate. Only love can.
6. Remember: this law cannot be broken.
We live life forgetting that Death is near.
Remember this law, the fighting will cease.
7. A hurricane will toss a rootless tree.
Death’s temptations will toss a rootless dude.
Fear of Death blows away pleasure-seekers.
8. Hurricane winds can’t toss a mountain, though.
Death cannot move you if your roots grow deep!
Grow your roots deep in discipline and faith.
9. Polluted thoughts, lies, and lack of self-control
Cannot be hidden by a saffron robe.
10. Pure thoughts, true words, and self-discipline
Are worthy of wearing saffron robes.
11. The lost are blinded by meaningless things,
Which they run after, never finding truth.
12. The smart ones follow that which can never change,
They follow with clear sight and find the truth.
13. Rain floods through cracks in a broken roof;
Emotion floods an undisciplined mind.
14. Rain rolls off a well-built and maintained roof;
Emotion rolls off a disciplined mind.
15. The self-centered suffer now and later.
16. Helping others brings joy now and later.
17. The self-centered suffer now and later.
They feel the damage now, and more’s to come.
18. Helping others brings joy now and later.
The good that’s done is clear, and more’s to come.
19. If you do not practice the things you preach,
You are counting chickens that have not hatched.
Spiritual happiness will elude you.
20. If you can’t preach a word, but know the truth,
Live beyond craving’s control, beyond hate,
Free of mental pollution, with pure thoughts,
Then you will live in spiritual joy.
Stanza Two: Watch Out!
21. Be watchful, and Death will have no power.
If your attention waivers, Death will catch you!
Work steadily, and Death’s power will wane;
Shirk discipline though, and life will retreat.
22. The real cool dig this wisdom and feel joy.
23. Their calm meditations blow them away
To the place called Nirvana, the blown place.
Freed from their bonds, they feel great happiness.
24. If you meditate hard, with a clear mind,
And do compassionate things for people,
If your inner training is in line with the truth,
Your acclaim and self-esteem will be real.
25. If you truly work hard at meditation,
You will be like dry land beyond the flood.
26. The unready folks let their minds wander,
The smart ones prize having sharp vigilance.
27. Don’t let your laziness be permanent;
Don’t make lust your only consistent habit.
Great joy attends sincere meditation
28. Sincere work will drive away laziness.
Clever folks march up wisdom’s mountains high
Above suffering, as if looking down.
29. Sincere, surrounded by lazy people.
Woke, when everyone else is sleeping.
The smart stand out like winning thoroughbreds.
30. This work is done by even the greatest
Queens and Kings of Demigods and Titans.
Those who try sincerely gain real esteem.
Those trapped in laziness gain no esteem.
31. The hardworking student of the spirit,
The one who stays ahead of laziness,
32. Is like The Human Torch, burning off bonds,
And blowing like smoke toward Nirvana.
Stanza Three: Thinking.
33. As a master bow hunter fires her arrows,
The disciplined control their wayward thoughts.
34. The student’s mind, learning meditation
Shivers and twitches like a fish on dry land;
The fibers of our being fear Death’s snares,
Our frightened minds run in all directions.
35. The mind loves to wander; it’s hard to teach.
To the well-trained mind come joy and wellness
36. Wise minds can make good choices for thought. Yes,
To the well-trained mind come joy and wellness.
37. People who can tell their thoughts where to go
In a way that really sticks the damn things
To where they are told, these folks escape Death.
38. Wisdom cannot live in a troubled mind,
Lacking knowledge of the supporting truths.
39. The smart ones look beyond duality
Their minds are calm and thinking even,
Their eyes are open and they don’t feel fear.
40. Do not forget that your body can break.
Your mind can be an unbreakable fort,
Build its walls well and fight Death with wisdom.
41. Bodies return to ashes, dust, and dirt.
42. You can hurt yourself more than others can
With an untrained mind, without discipline.
43. Parents and a whole loving family
Can’t help you more than a disciplined mind.
Stanza Four: Blooms.
44. A florist picks blooms well and carefully
You should choose to learn the supporting truths
Like the careful florist choosing blossoms.
They will take you far away from Death’s grasp,
Further even than the bright fields of the Gods.
45. A florist picks blooms well and carefully
You should choose to learn the supporting truths
Like the careful florist choosing blossoms.
They will take you far away from Death’s grasp,
Further even than the bright fields of the Gods!
46. Keep in mind that your body’s like beer foam,
Fleeting, like wisps, sundogs, and dust devils.
Keep yourself beyond Death’s fragrant bullets.
Then Death and all its ills cannot grab you.
47. A dam breaks, and morning finds a town gone.
They didn’t know what hit them, nor will you
If Death finds you gathering the daisies.
48. If you’ve spent your life on the trivial
Death will knock your feet out from under you,
Spilling all of your distracting flowers.
49. Slip into the depths of meditation
And then out from among its bright petals;
Like the peaceful bee the unharmed flower.
50. Don’t count other people’s wins and losses
Count your own heads and tails in life’s tosses.
51. Those who admonish others and then fail to
Act in the ways they are advocating
Are like silk flowers with no real perfume.
52. Do the good things you tell others to do,
Then you are like a real flower that smells good.
53. One field of flowers makes many bouquets;
One life can do good in many fine ways.
54. Incense and flowers’ scent just drift downwind;
The good that you do can be felt all around.
55. All the most beautiful blooms in the world
Cannot rival the perfume of goodness.
56. The white jasmine and the scent of incense
Are weaker than the good in people
To the noses of the ones in Heaven.
57. Those ones, enlightened and sincere and good,
Those ones are always far away from Death.
58. & 59. Real students of The Awoke shine brightly
They stand out beside their sad, burdened peers
They stand out, just as a lotus stands out
Growing in the most unexpected place.
Stanza Five: Childish People.
60. The night drags on and on when you want to sleep.
The road drags on and on when you are tired.
Rebirth goes on and on without support.
61. Take helpful people with you on the path;
Lacking helpful people, go by yourself!
You can’t make common cause with sour grapes.
62. The undeveloped stay focused on wealth.
“My family is rich and powerful!”
They are constantly saying to themselves.
When family, wealth, and peace escape them.
63. The childish who know it are just foolish,
The childish who think they are smart, much worse;
64. They don’t see the support, no matter what
Amount of time they spend with wise people.
Wax cucumbers will never be pickles.
65. Smart people, hanging out with the right folks,
Will understand the support easily
Like real cucumbers fast become pickles.
66. The childish are their own worst enemies,
Shooting themselves in the foot constantly.
67. If you or others regret what you did,
If it hurts people for long or short time
What you did was probably a bad thing.
68. If people are happy with what you did,
Joyful, it was probably a good thing.
69. The childish think self-centered things are good
Until they must face the consequences,
And when they see what happens, it hurts them.
70. Fasting for years, using a blade of grass
To spoon their food, they are still not yet worth
A small part of one who has understood.
71. Good cream doesn’t go bad in an instant;
Time sure does tell when an action is bad.
As hot coals in cold ashes can still burn
The childish are burned by their actions.
72. If the childish get an idea or two
They are prone to use them in the wrong way.
Hurt themselves, and not help themselves at all.
73. Childish people chase false accolades:
Religious rank, control of the temples, praise.
74. To aesthetics and others they proclaim,
“Listen! Only I know what is right and wrong!
I am able to do things! You are not!”
75. Go the clearly marked way to wisdom,
Not the way to false pleasure and profit.
Students of The Awoke! Do the right thing.
Stanza Six: Enlightened People.
76. Someone who helps you avoid a bad way
Is better than a pirate’s treasure map!
Follow them and find the excellent truths.
77. Listen to that person and take it in,
Let them help you stay away from bad ways
Fools will hate them and the wise will love them.
78. Value and cherish honest and true friends.
Just stay away from dishonest people.
79. To go the way the enlightened ones say
Brings happiness and peace every day.
80. Farmers shape water by digging ditches.
Framers shape and nail wood to make houses.
Fletchers shape wood and feathers for arrows.
The enlightened farm, frame, and fletch their minds.
81. Accolades and incriminations both
Blow futilely against the enlightened
Like hot or cold winds against a boulder.
82. Enlightened minds are transparent and still
As they hear about the truth of this world.
83. Putting one foot in front of the other,
Enlightened people always keep going.
They don’t waste time complaining or gloating
Whatever the winds of fortune bring them.
84. An aesthetic choosing celibacy,
Poverty, Humility, not power,
And never worldly success by cheating
Is one to trust as enlightened and moral.
85. Not many people get to the far coast;
They waste their time panicking on this one.
86. If you stick to the truth and true teachings
You will get there, though it be difficult.
You will be aloof from the grasp of Death.
87– 88. The ‘enlightened’ are just that: seeking light.
They walk away from the dark and seek light
Willing to leave their familiar haunts,
Willing to eschew gratifications,
Releasing that which they cannot control
89. They achieve emotional purity.
Remembering enlightenment’s lessons,
Perceptions under control, freed from greed
They have become truly free. This is light.
The Bible, Matthew 5:3–12, The Beatitudes.
Translated and adapted to blank verse
Blessèd are those poor still rich in spirit,
For theirs shall be the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessèd are they who mourn for lost loved ones,
For God will comfort them with lasting love.
Blessèd are those who falter and are meek,
For God will bequeath them all the land.
Blessèd are they who thirst for righteousness,
For their thirst will be satisfied by God.
Blessèd are those who are the merciful,
For they will be granted of God’s mercy.
Blessèd are the people who keep clean hearts,
For they will look upon the Face of God.
Blessèd are they who make peace in the world,
For they will be called the Children of God.
Blessèd are those righteous persecuted,
For theirs, too, is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessèd are you when you are insulted,
Wronged, or persecuted because of me.
Rejoice, be glad: Heaven holds your reward!
So were the prophets treated before you.
1 (1.1) manopubbaṅ gamā dhammā manoseṭṭ hā manomayā
manasā ce paduṭṭ hena bhā sati vā karoti vā
tato naṃ dukkhamanveti cakkaṃ ’va vahato padaṃ .
2 (1.2) manopubbaṅ gamā dhammā manoseṭṭ hā manomayā
manasā ce pasannena bhā sati vā karoti vā
tato naṃ sukhamanveti chā yā ’va anapā yinī .
3 (1.3) akkocchi maṃ avadhi maṃ ajini maṃ ahā si me
ye taṃ upanayhanti veraṃ tesaṃ na sammati.
4 (1.4) akkocchi maṃ avadhi maṃ ajini maṃ ahā si me
ye taṃ na upanayhanti veraṃ tesū pasammati.
5 (1.5) na hi verena verā ni sammantī dha kudā canaṃ
averena ca sammanti esa dhammo sanantano.
6 (1.6) pare ca na vijā nanti mayamettha yamā mase
ye ca tattha vijā nanti tato sammanti medhagā .
7 (1.7) subhā nupassiṃ viharantaṃ indriyesu asaṃ vutaṃ
bhojanambhi amattaññuṃ kusī taṃ hī navī riyaṃ
taṃ ve pasahati mā ro vā to rukkhaṃ ’va dubbalaṃ .
8 (1.8) asubhā nupassiṃ viharantaṃ indriyesu susaṃ vutaṃ
bhojanambhi ca mattaññuṃ saddhaṃ ā raddhavī riyaṃ
taṃ ve nappasahati mā ro vā to selaṃ ’va pabbataṃ .
9 (1.9) anikkasā vo kā sā vaṃ yo vatthaṃ paridahessati
apeto damasaccena na so kā sā vamarahati.
10 (1.10) yo ca vantakasā vassa sī lesu susamā hito
upeto damasaccena sa ve kā sā vamarahati.
11 (1.11) asā re sā ramatino sā re cā sā radassino
te sā raṃ nā dhigacchanti micchā saṃ kappagocarā .
12 (1.12) sā rañca sā rato ñatvā asā rañca asā rato
te sā raṃ adhigacchanti sammā saṃ kappagocarā .
13 (1.13) yathā gā raṃ ducchannaṃ vuṭṭ hi samativijjhati
evaṃ abhā vitaṃ cittaṃ rā go samativijjhati.
14 (1.14) yathā gā raṃ succhannaṃ vuṭṭ hi na samativijjhati
evaṃ subhā vitaṃ cittaṃ rā go na samativijjhati.
15 (1.15) idha socati pecca socati pā pakā rī ubhayattha socati
so socati so vihaññati disvā kamma kiliṭṭ hamattano.
16 (1.16) idha modati pecca modati katapuñño ubhayattha modati
so modati so pamodati disvā kamma visuddhimattano.
17 (1.17) idha tappati pecca tappati pā pakā rī ubhayattha tappati
pā paṃ me katanti tappati bhiyyo tappati duggatiṃ gato.
18 (1.18) idha nandati pecca nandati pā pakā rī ubhayattha nandati
pā paṃ me katanti nandati bhiyyo nandati suggatiṃ gato.
19 (1.19) bahumpi ce sahitaṃ bhā samā no
na takkaro hoti naro pamatto
gopo’va gā vo gaṇ ayaṃ paresaṃ
na bhā gavā sā maññassa hoti.
20 (1.20) appampi ce sahitaṃ bhā samā no
dhammassa hoti anudhammacā rī
rā gañca dosañca pahā ya mohaṃ
sammappajā no suvimuttacitto
anupā diyā no idha vā huraṃ vā
sa bhā gavā sā maññassa hoti.
21 (2.1) appamā do amatapadaṃ pamā do maccuno padaṃ
appamattā na mī yanti ye pamattā yathā matā .
22 (2.2) etaṃ visesato ñatvā appamā damhi paṇḍ itā
appamā de pamodanti ariyā naṃ gocare ratā .
23 (2.3) te jhā yino sā tatikā niccaṃ daḷ haparakkamā
phusanti dhī rā nibbāṇ aṃ yogakkhemaṃ anuttaraṃ .
24 (2.4) uṭṭ hā navato satimato sucikammassa nisammakā rino
saññatassa ca dhammajī vino appamattassa yaso’bhivaḍḍ hati.
25 (2.5) uṭṭ hā nenappamā dena saññamena damena ca
dī paṃ kayirā tha medhā vī yaṃ ogho nā bhikī rati.
26 (2.6) pamā damanuyuñjanti bā lā dummedhino janā
appamā dañca medhā vi dhanaṃ seṭṭ haṃ ’va rakkhati.
27 (2.7) mā pamā damanuyuñjetha mā kā marati santhavaṃ
appamatto hi jhā yanto pappoti vipulaṃ sukhaṃ .
28 (2.8) pamā daṃ appamā dena yadā nudati paṇḍ ito
paññā pā sā damā ruyha asoko sokiniṃ pajaṃ
pabbataṭṭ ho’va bhummaṭṭ he dhī ro bā le avekkhati.
29 (2.9) appamatto pamattesu suttesu bahujā garo
abalassaṃ ’va sī ghasso hitvā yā ti sumedhaso.
30 (2.10) appamā dena maghavā devā naṃ seṭṭ hataṃ gato
appamā daṃ pasaṃ santi pamā do garahito sadā .
31 (2.11) appamā darato bhikkhu pamā de bhaya dassivā
saṃ yojanaṃ aṇ uṃ thū laṃ ḍ ahaṃ aggī va gacchati.
32 (2.12) appamā darato bhikkhu pamā de bhaya dassivā
abhabbo parihāṇā ya nibbāṇ asseva santike.
33 (3.1) phandanaṃ capalaṃ cittaṃ durakkhaṃ dunnivā rayaṃ
ujuṃ karoti medhā vī usukā ro’va tejanaṃ .
34 (3.2) vā rijo’va thale khitto okamokata ubbhato
pariphandatidaṃ cittaṃ mā radheyyaṃ pahā tave.
35 (3.3) dunniggahassa lahuno1 yatthakā manipā tino
cittassa damatho sā dhu cittaṃ dantaṃ sukhā vahaṃ .
36 (3.4) sududdasaṃ sunipunaṃ yatthakā manipā tinaṃ
cittaṃ rakkhetha medhā vī cittaṃ guttaṃ sukhā vahaṃ .
37 (3.5) dū raṅ gamaṃ ekacaraṃ asarī raṃ kuhā sayaṃ
ye cittaṃ saññamessanti mokkhanti mā rabandhanā .
38 (3.6) anavaṭṭ hitacittassa saddhammaṃ avijā nato
paripalavapasā dassa paññā na paripū rati.
39 (3.7) anavassutacittassa ananavā hatacetaso
puññapā papahīṇ assa natthi jā garato bhayaṃ .
40 (3.8) kumbhū pamaṃ kā yamimaṃ viditvā nagarū pamaṃ cittamidaṃ ṭ hapetvā
yodhetha mā raṃ paññā yudhena jitañca rakkhe anivesano siyā .
41 (3.9) aciraṃ vatayaṃ kā yo paṭ haviṃ adhisessati
chuddho apetaviññāṇ o niratthaṃ ’va kaliṅ garaṃ .
42 (3.10) diso disaṃ yantaṃ kayirā verī vā pana verinaṃ
micchā paṇ ihitaṃ cittaṃ pā piyo naṃ tato kare.
43 (3.11) na taṃ mā tā pitā kayirā aññe vā pi ca ñā takā
sammā paṇ ihitaṃ cittaṃ seyyaso naṃ tato kare.
44 (4.1) ko imaṃ paṭ haviṃ vicessati
*yamalokañca imaṃ sadevakaṃ
ko dhammapadaṃ sudesitaṃ
kusalo pupphamiva pacessati.
45 (4.2) sekho paṭ haviṃ vicessati
yamalokañca imaṃ sadevakaṃ
sekho dhammapadaṃ sudesitaṃ
kusalo pupphamiva pacessati.
46 (4.3) pheṇū pamaṃ kā yamimaṃ viditvā
marī cidhammaṃ abhisambudhā no
chetvā na mā rassa papupphakā ni
adassanaṃ maccurā jassa gacche.
47 (4.4) pupphā ni heva pacinantaṃ byā sattamanasaṃ naraṃ
suttaṃ gā maṃ mahogho’va maccu ā dā ya gacchati.
48 (4.5) pupphā ni heva pacinantaṃ byā sattamanasaṃ naraṃ
atittaṃ yeva kā mesu antako kurute vasaṃ .
49 (4.6) yathā pi bhamaro pupphaṃ vaṇṇ agandhaṃ aheṭ hayaṃ
paḷ eti rasamā dā ya evaṃ gā me munī care.
50 (4.7) na paresaṃ vilomā ni na paresaṃ katā kataṃ
attano’va avekkheyya katā ni akatā ni ca.
51 (4.8) yathā pi ruciraṃ pupphaṃ vaṇṇ avantaṃ agandhakaṃ
evaṃ subhā sitā vā cā aphalā hoti akubbato.
52 (4.9) yathā pi ruciraṃ pupphaṃ vaṇṇ avantaṃ sagandhakaṃ
evaṃ subhā sitā vā cā saphalā hoti pakubbato.
53 (4.10) yathā pi ppupharā simhā kayirā mā lā kuṇ e bahū
evaṃ jā tena maccena kattabbaṃ kusalaṃ bahuṃ .
54 (4.11) na pupphagandho paṭ ivā tameti na candanaṃ tagaramallikā vā
satañca gandho paṭ ivā tameti sabbā disā sappuriso pavā ti.
55 (4.12) candanaṃ tagaraṃ vā pi uppalaṃ atha vassikī
etesaṃ gandhajā tā naṃ sī lagandho anuttaro.
56 (4.13) appamatto ayaṃ gandho yā yaṃ tagaracandanī
yo ca sī lavataṃ gandho vā ti devesu uttamo..
57 (4.14) tesaṃ sampannasī lā naṃ appamā davihā rinaṃ
sammadaññā vimuttā naṃ mā ro maggaṃ na vindati.
58 (4.15) yathā saṅ kā radhā nasmiṃ ujjhitasmiṃ mahā pathe
padumaṃ tattha jā yetha sucigandhaṃ manoramaṃ .
59 (4.16) evaṃ saṅ kā rabhū tesu andhabhū te puthujjane
atirocati paññā ya sammā sambuddhasā vako.
60 (5.1) dī ghā jā garato ratti dī ghaṃ santassa yojanaṃ
dī gho bā lā naṃ saṃ sā ro saddhamma avijā nataṃ .
61 (5.2) carañce nā dhigaccheyya seyyaṃ sadisamattano
ekacariyaṃ daḷ haṃ kayirā natthi bā le sahā yatā .
62 (5.3) puttā matthi dhanammatthi iti bā lo vihaññati
attā hi attano natthi kuto puttā kuto dhanaṃ .
63 (5.4) yo bā lo maññati bā lyaṃ paṇ aḍ ito vā ’pi tena so
bā lo ca paṇḍ itamā nī sa ve bā lo’ti vuccati.
64 (5.5) yā vajī vampi ce bā lo vaṇḍ itaṃ payirupā sati
na so dhammaṃ vijā nā ti dabbī sū parasaṃ yathā .
65 (5.6) muhuttampi ce viñ paṇḍ itaṃ payirupā sati
khippaṃ dhammaṃ vijā nā ti jivhā sū parasaṃ yathā .
The Beatitudes, Latin source text:
Beati pauperes spiritu
quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum
quoniam ipsi possidebunt terram
Beati qui lugent
quoniam ipsi consolabuntur
qui esuriunt et sitiunt iustitiam quoniam ipsi saturabuntur
quia ipsi misericordiam consequentur
Beati mundo corde
quoniam ipsi Deum videbunt
quoniam filii Dei vocabuntur
Beati qui persecutionem patiuntur propter iustitiam
quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum
Beati estis cum maledixerint vobis et persecuti
vos fuerint et dixerint omne malum adversum vos mentientes propter me
Gaudete et exultate quoniam merces vestra copiosa est in caelis sic enim persecuti sunt prophetas
qui fuerunt ante vos
The Support Verses, The Earliest Sayings of The Buddha is my best English translation of the title of The Dhammapada, as it is usually transliterated from its original language—Pali, a language older than Sanskrit. While some of the verses in it are in Pali, others have come down to us only in Sanskrit. If you’re not familiar with it, The Dhammapada could be considered the single most ubiquitous collection of The Buddha’s sayings in existence across all Buddhist traditions. It has, therefore, been translated into English many times over hundreds of years. I have in no way duplicated any existing translation, and given my artistic parameters, I think it impossible to have done so by accident. Those parameters are simple: my wish is to artistically transmit the truth of the verses as I have received them after meditation and contemplation of them. Therefore, they are in the vocabulary and syntax of my own idiomatic English: sometimes academic and sometimes profane, as needed.
My intention is also to honor the Buddha’s suggestion in verse 102 that “one memorable maxim that grants peace outshines all dusty, forgotten volumes.” To do this, I use the verse form of the most quoted plays in the English language: iambic pentameter. The Buddha’s idea in verse 102 is mirrored by the philosopher Seneca who said: “I’d rather write one memorable maxim than whole volumes of forgotten philosophy.” Verse 102 made it clear to me—as did Shakespeare’s knowledge of Seneca which informed his writing—that “The Support Verses” were very much meant to be remembered and quoted. Long ago, literacy was not widespread and, therefore, the catchiness of verses was a present concern for writers. And so, I hope that verses like, “one field of flowers makes many bouquets; one life can do good in many fine ways” will stay in your memory. I sincerely believe it was The Buddha’s intention that his sayings should.
I have taken another step here that is unique—a step that has granted the verses clarity for me
and yet I fear it may be seen as a revolutionary credo. It is not. That is, I have translated every
word of the verses into English, leaving no words in transliterated Pali or Sanskrit. This is a
simple exigency on my part to avoid the fetishization of foreign words by myself and other
readers in English. It is too easy to think that enlightenment is a faraway, foreign thing to be only spoken of in syllables that sound exotic to our ears and that enlightenment cannot be spoken in our own tongue or read in our own language. The authority I call on to offer this step is none less than The Buddha, who at every instance suggests that enlightenment is nearby, usual, ordinary, and possible for anyone to attain and feel utterly familiar with. If it helps to bash any racist or colonialist fetishization that has been built up by this practice in past, so be it. That was not my intention. And it is also not something I would renounce. I also do not consider this translation in any way definitive or exclusive—as with any great religious text or poetic work, and “The Support Verses” is both. Reading in the original and in as many translations as possible will yield deep insight and is recommended. My translation/adaptation is meant to join the galaxy of translations of this great work, offering readers additional artistic insight and/or religious utility.
“The Beatitudes” is a widely known section of the Bible, often quoted in any number of
translations. My aim in translating and adapting them for the first time into English iambic
pentameter, Shakespeare’s verse form, is to add a new way of reflecting on the beautiful poetry of their joyous message, both for religious people and for secular artistic enjoyment. In part, I’ve been inspired by the fact that the King James version of the Bible uses Shakespearean vocabulary—it was created during Shakespeare’s time by people who would have seen his plays—and yet never makes the leap into the popular verse form of that time, iambic pentameter or “blank verse.” It is the blank verse’s famous ability to condense English into beautiful poetry while maintaining a pleasing and familiar conversational rhythm that I hope to play on with this translated adaptation in order to bring a fresh re-hearing of it to readers and clergy. It is intended for general publication and also aimed at acceptance for use in liturgical ceremonies.