'Saul And David' by Anthony Hecht

AI and Tech Aggregator
Download Mp3s Free
Tears of the Kingdom Roleplay
Best Free University Courses Online
TOTK Roleplay

It was a villainous spirit, snub-nosed, foul
Of breath, thick-taloned and malevolent,
That squatted within him wheresoever he went
.......And possessed the soul of Saul.

There was no peace on pillow or on throne.
In dreams the toothless, dwarfed, and squinny-eyed
Started a joyful rumor that he had died
.......Unfriended and alone.

The doctors were confounded. In his distress, he
Put aside arrogant ways and condescended
To seek among the flocks where they were tended
.......By the youngest son of Jesse,

A shepherd boy, but goodly to look upon,
Unnoticed but God-favored, sturdy of limb
As Michelangelo later imagined him,
.......Comely even in his frown.

Shall a mere shepherd provide the cure of kings?
Heaven itself delights in ironies such
As this, in which a boy's fingers would touch
.......Pythagorean strings

And by a modal artistry assemble
The very Sons of Morning, the ranked and choired
Heavens in sweet laudation of the Lord,
.......And make Saul cease to tremble.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Saul and David: A Masterpiece of Poetic Narration

Anthony Hecht's poem, Saul and David, is a stunning masterpiece of poetic narration that captures the essence of the biblical tale of King Saul and the young shepherd, David. The poem is a deeply insightful and thought-provoking exploration of themes such as power, betrayal, loyalty, and the fragility of human relationships. With its vivid imagery, rich symbolism, and elegant language, Saul and David is a testament to Hecht's mastery of the craft of poetry.

The Power Struggle between Saul and David

At the heart of the poem is the power struggle between Saul, the king of Israel, and David, the humble shepherd who rises to become his successor. Hecht vividly captures the tension between the two men, painting a picture of a king who is desperate to hold onto his power and a young man who is determined to seize it for himself. The first section of the poem sets the stage for this power struggle, with Hecht describing Saul as a "giant," a "magnificent king," and a "dazzling figure," while also hinting at his insecurity and fear of losing his throne.

The second section of the poem introduces David, who is presented as a stark contrast to Saul. He is described as a "shepherd boy," "slender," and "fair," with a "gentle face" and a "courteous air." Yet, despite his humble appearance, David possesses a strength and resilience that will eventually enable him to overcome Saul and become the new king of Israel. Hecht captures this inner strength and courage in lines such as, "For he had faced the lion and the bear / And learned to trust his arm and piercing stone."

The power struggle between Saul and David is the driving force of the poem, and Hecht skillfully weaves together various narrative threads to create a complex and nuanced portrayal of this conflict. He depicts Saul as a tragic figure, consumed by jealousy and paranoia, and David as a hero who must navigate the treacherous waters of politics and power to achieve his ultimate goal.

Betrayal and Loyalty

Another major theme of the poem is betrayal and loyalty. Hecht explores the complex web of relationships that exists between Saul, David, and the other characters in the story, showing how these relationships are shaped by ambition, jealousy, and love. Saul's paranoia and fear of betrayal are palpable throughout the poem, and he is constantly questioning the loyalty of those around him. Hecht captures this sense of uncertainty and mistrust in lines such as, "And when he thought of David, his dream / Was filled with rocks and ambush."

At the same time, Hecht portrays David as a loyal and devoted follower of God, who is willing to risk everything to achieve his destiny. Hecht describes David's loyalty in lines such as, "For David heard God's voice, and could not doubt / The truth of what the Lord had promised him."

The theme of betrayal and loyalty culminates in the final section of the poem, where David defeats Saul in battle and becomes the new king of Israel. Hecht captures the bittersweet nature of this victory, showing how David's triumph is tempered by his sorrow at the death of his former mentor and friend. The poem ends with a powerful image of David weeping over Saul's body, a poignant reminder of the complex and fragile nature of human relationships.

Symbolism and Imagery

Hecht's use of symbolism and imagery is another hallmark of his poetic style, and Saul and David is no exception. Throughout the poem, Hecht employs a variety of symbols and images to convey his themes and ideas, from the rocks and stones that David uses as weapons to the sheep that he tends as a shepherd.

One of the most powerful symbols in the poem is the image of the shepherd. Hecht uses this image to contrast David with Saul, showing how David's humble origins and simple lifestyle give him a deeper understanding of the world and of God's will. He describes David as a "shepherd boy" and "the keeper of the sheep," emphasizing his connection to the natural world and his ability to see the beauty and wonder in even the most ordinary things.

Another powerful image in the poem is the image of the rocks and stones that David uses as weapons. Hecht describes these stones in vivid detail, showing how they are "flawed and jagged," yet also possessed of a "beauty and hardness." These stones become a powerful symbol of David's strength and courage, as well as a reminder of the fragility of human life.


In conclusion, Saul and David is a truly remarkable poem, a masterful work of poetic narration that captures the essence of the biblical story it retells. With its vivid imagery, rich symbolism, and elegant language, the poem is a testament to Hecht's skill as a poet and his deep understanding of the human condition. Whether read as a meditation on power, betrayal, and loyalty, or as a celebration of the beauty and wonder of the natural world, Saul and David is a work of enduring value and meaning.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Saul and David: A Masterpiece of Poetry

Anthony Hecht's Saul and David is a classic poem that has stood the test of time. It is a masterpiece of poetry that explores the complex relationship between two biblical figures, King Saul and David. The poem is a powerful commentary on the nature of power, jealousy, and betrayal. In this article, we will explore the themes, structure, and language of this remarkable work of art.


The central theme of Saul and David is the struggle for power. The poem depicts the rivalry between Saul, the first king of Israel, and David, the young shepherd who would eventually become his successor. Saul is consumed by jealousy and paranoia, fearing that David will take his throne. He becomes increasingly erratic and violent, eventually turning on David and trying to kill him. David, on the other hand, is portrayed as a humble and virtuous man who is loyal to Saul despite the king's hostility towards him.

Another important theme in the poem is the nature of leadership. Saul is depicted as a flawed and insecure leader who is unable to control his own emotions. He is driven by his own ego and fears, and his decisions are often irrational and destructive. David, on the other hand, is portrayed as a wise and compassionate leader who is able to inspire loyalty and devotion in his followers.


The structure of Saul and David is complex and multi-layered. The poem is divided into six sections, each of which explores a different aspect of the relationship between Saul and David. The first section sets the scene, describing the setting and introducing the two main characters. The second section focuses on Saul's jealousy and paranoia, while the third section explores David's loyalty and humility.

The fourth section is the turning point of the poem, where Saul's jealousy turns to violence and he tries to kill David. The fifth section depicts David's flight from Saul and his eventual rise to power. The final section is a reflection on the nature of power and leadership, and the legacy of Saul and David.


The language of Saul and David is rich and evocative, with vivid imagery and powerful metaphors. Hecht uses a variety of poetic techniques, including alliteration, repetition, and rhyme, to create a sense of rhythm and musicality in the poem.

One of the most striking features of the poem is its use of biblical language and imagery. Hecht draws heavily on the language and themes of the Old Testament, using biblical references to create a sense of timelessness and universality. The poem is filled with references to God, angels, and prophets, creating a sense of grandeur and majesty.


In conclusion, Saul and David is a remarkable work of poetry that explores the complex themes of power, jealousy, and betrayal. Hecht's use of language and imagery is masterful, creating a sense of timelessness and universality that resonates with readers today. The poem is a powerful commentary on the nature of leadership and the legacy of those who wield power. It is a testament to the enduring power of poetry to capture the human experience and to inspire us to reflect on our own lives and the world around us.

Editor Recommended Sites

Tech Deals: Deals on laptops, computers, apple, tablets, smart watches
Startup News: Valuation and acquisitions of the most popular startups
Learn AWS / Terraform CDK: Learn Terraform CDK, Pulumi, AWS CDK
LLM training course: Find the best guides, tutorials and courses on LLM fine tuning for the cloud, on-prem
Data Visualization: Visualization using python seaborn and more

Recommended Similar Analysis

Enter a Dragoon by Thomas Hardy analysis
The Convergence Of The Twain by Thomas Hardy analysis
Epitaphs by Anne Bradstreet analysis
Ode On The Death Of A Favourite Cat Drowned In A Tub Of Goldfishes by Thomas Gray analysis
A Dream by William Blake analysis
It dropped so low in my regard by Emily Dickinson analysis
Vergissmeinnicht by Keith Douglas analysis
If you were coming in the Fall by Emily Dickinson analysis
Minstrel Man by Langston Hughes analysis
Quiet Girl by Langston Hughes analysis