Those of you who have discovered the unearthly masterpiece, A Course in Miracles, will no doubt be aware of, and grateful for, its divine message of the remembrance of God and reality through love and forgiveness, that are only made possible in the realization that this world is a dream of your own making. You may remember reading, amongst the literature concerning the scribing of the Course, references to the use of a poetic form called iambic pentameter.
The purpose of this volume is to present the poetry of the Course in a totally accessible manner. You need know nothing about poetic forms and meters to begin enjoying immediately. You may, however, wish to read this introduction, as a search to ascertain the extent of the poetic form within the Course reveals another astounding dimension in its structural integrity.
Iambic pentameter is usually described as “lines consisting of five iambs”, which in turn are described as “metric feet of two syllables each, the second syllable being the stronger”. Put simply, a line of iambic pentameter sounds like this:
|Da-DUM |Da-DUM |Da-DUM |Da-DUM| Da-DUM | — |
This form is also called “blank verse”, a more general term denoting even rhythm without rhyming. Because the Course is presented entirely as prose the extent to which this form is used is a surprising and exciting discovery.
The Text of A Course In Miracles can be seen as three distinct parts, two of twelve chapters each, and the last of seven chapters, each differentiated from the other by the use of meter. Within this structure, a gradual transition is made from prose to blank verse.
The first twelve chapters of the Course are written in a rhythmic prose, and the portrait of the human condition given is prosaic indeed. The very last sentence of Chapter 12 is the first glimpse of what, metrically speaking, is to come: “Your Father could not cease to love His Son. (a line of iambic pentameter)
The second part begins with the first seven sections of Chapter 13 becoming increasingly iambic, until in section seven, “The Attainment of the Real World”, each paragraph contains on average only three of four arhythmic lines, non-iambic lines. This is the metric characteristic of the second twelve chapters. Occasionally, paragraphs begin with emphatic statements of light reality, given in iambic pentameter: “There is a light that this world cannot give;” is the first such occurrence. “You do not really want the world you see;” “We cannot sing redemption’s hymn alone;” “Your faith in nothing is deceiving you.” These glorious statements are each elucidated conceptually in the paragraphs that follow from them, but each also offers an opportunity to enter into real communication…. You are being prepared for a new mode of data transmission.
Deeper into the second part, increasingly strong “insertions” of iambic pentameter occur; longer passages that persist further into the paragraphs. For instance, in Chapter 21:
Thus they define their life and where they live, adjusting to it as they think they must, afraid to lose the little that they have. And so it is with all who see the body as all they have and all their brothers have. and fail again.
Coincident with the approach of total iambic pentameter, (the last seven chapters), Jesus makes this statement (in Chapter 22): “This is a crucial period in this course, for here the separation of you and the ego must be made complete.” And this:
This course will be believed entirely or not at all. For it is wholly true or wholly false, and cannot be but partially believed.
Chapter 25 is the beginning of the final part. In Chapters 25 and 26 the final transition is made into perfect iambic pentameter, making feasible the presentation as poetry in the two same manner as the works of Shakespeare are presented, with columns of the short blank verse lines to a page. It is at this final part that this volume of transformative rhythm and poetry takes up the Text. Encoded into the ongoing presentation of conceptual ideas is the true communication the Course aims to teach. Each line is a perfectly whole package of information.
Some parts of these two chapters are still not regular enough to allow breakdown into lines of iambic pentameter and so are presented (in Russell’s book) as prose. Also, the regular iambic pentameter in these two chapters and early in Chapter 27, often contains idiosyncrasies, such as lines that contain one extra syllable, or short lines of only four or six syllables. These discrepancies are used to emphasize ideas in the same manner that the iambic pentameter was used in the middle chapters of the text, only rather than lifting you into communication, they drop you out momentarily, the aim being to teach you to recognize the difference.
In the last five chapters of the text the iambic pentameter is perfect. Jesus never abbreviates words to achieve this, but it does account for what seemed to be occasionally unusual syntax – but which now makes perfect sense, read as poetry.
A transition from prose to poetry also occurs in the Workbook, but it is much simpler, and quicker. The first ninety lessons are plain prose, with the exception of Lesson 78, which is totally poetic (iambic pentameter). The transition occurs entirely with ten lessons. Lesson 91 is prose. The following lessons have increasing percentages of verse, but the distinction is kept very clear. Any paragraph will either be entirely prose, or entirely poetry. It is astonishing to discover that everything in the Workbook from lesson 100 on is in iambic pentameter ~ the introductions to Reviews, the “instructions on themes of special relevance,” such as ‘What is Forgiveness’, the prayers and the Epilogue.
Attempts to read the poetic form directly from the original prose layout often result in diminished comprehension. Conversely, the presentation as blank verse guarantees placing correct emphasis for understanding, (though not understanding itself), and the elegance and eloquence of Jesus’ poetry and the regular rhythmic lope offer an expanded experience of the Course to the musical mind.
The magnitude and beauty of the Course, simply as a work of literature and without regard to its miraculous content, adequately belie any notion of its human authorship. The divinity of the ideas expressed is beyond question. Certainly the poetic and prosaic forms contained in A Course in Miracles are there because that was necessary for the healing of God’s Son, since this is the Holy Spirit’s only purpose.
Full Manuscript is here: The_Rhythm_&_Reason_of_Reality_from_A_Course_In_Miracles PDF