by King Solomon

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

King Solomon was, according to the Hebrew Bible, a King of Israel. The biblical accounts identify Solomon as the son of David. The Hebrew Bible credits Solomon as the builder of the First Temple in Jerusalem and portrays him as great in wisdom, wealth, and power. Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. The wives are described as foreign princesses, including Pharaoh’s daughter and women of Moab, Ammon, Sidon and of the Hittites. He is considered the last ruler of the united Kingdom of Israel before its division into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah. According to Jewish tradition, King Solomon wrote three books of the Torah/Bible: Mishlei (Book of Proverbs), Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), and Shir ha-Shirim (Song of Songs). (Annotated biography of King Solomon courtesy of, with edits.)

Editor’s Note: Today’s post became most famous in modern popular culture for the version put to music (with six words added) by Pete Seeger in 1962 and made more famous in 1965 when recorded by the Byrds. Thus, today’s post continues our ongoing discussion about where the lines of poetry and music are blurred.

Today’s post takes that discussion a step further, by taking a look at how biblical text and mythology come into play in poetry. Arguably mythological stories and oral storytelling, which later became incorporated into the written word and went on to form important texts such as the Torah, Bible, and Koran (among many others) are the oldest form of poetry. Ideas became stories and songs, stories and songs became the written word, the written word was crafted as a form of art, that art informed and inspired others, and poetry as we know it was born.

On my paternal grandmother’s side of the family a family tree has been kept for so many generations that it traces our lineage to King David. That makes King Solomon my kin, and I am proud to honor him today by celebrating his poetry. Let’s hope his talent runs in the family!

Want to read more by and about King Solomon?
King Solomon on Wikipedia
Turn! Turn! Turn! on Wikipedia
U Penn / Song of Songs


  1. I think songs can be thought of as poetry, but I don’t think they’re as pure. Poetry on the page is unadorned by instrumentation, so the poet has to work harder than the songwriter to create a reaction in the audience. Personally, when I listen to a good song for the first time, I tend to get swept up in the sounds, the mix of chords, and the emotions those combinations elicit. It takes me a few listens before I can focus on the lyrics.

    Have you seen any clips from Def Poetry Jam? I like it because it feels like poetry and it feels like music. Here’s a clip of Talib Kweli performing:


  2. Actually, the first (known) (written) poetry was Sumerian … from The Priestess Inanna, decidedly a relative of Sarah The Priestess, wife of Abraham. And re Soloman: There was also the affair with The Queen of Sheba … Purportedly, she received a magnificent jewel as a gift from him … which was passed down through the ages to Haille Salacie (sic) … and given by HIM to BOB MARLEY(!), where now, it lies in rest within the sacred ground from whence it came! Blessed B(e)e!


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