A History of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Lyric-al-literation is a variation of Probable Proverbs that involves alliteration of extended text. In this incredible example below, Bill Flis has created a poem describing the history of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Last updated 2/13/98

A Sibilant Saga of the Essene Scrolls

--William Flis

The Essenes, strange, ascetic, splinter sect
(Associated with the Savior, some surmise)
Spurned the selfish, status-seeking sanctimony
Of the sovereign, citified Sadducees.
Sternly sober: seldom sipping strong spirits;
Strictly celibate: scarcer still, seen
Socializing with their sectarian sisters.

Sedulous scribes so skillfully scrawled upon the storied scrolls
Some secular sayings as well as the span of sacred scriptures,
Save solely the story of Esther, somewhat surprisingly.
Stored in scores of sealed stoneware,
Subterraneously secreted in shallow shafts
Sunk in a steep, soaring escarpment
Sited aside Sodom's sterile stagnant salina.

Since circa the Caesars, the scrolls, unstirred,
Spent the subsequent seasonless centuries
Safe in silent, sere circumstance,
Shaded from the ceaseless, scorching sunshine,
Shielded from the shifting, scouring sands.

Spied by a sometime-spelunking shepherd's son,
Supposedly in search of straying stock.
Several sheets were soon sold--
as simple skins, chamois, stuff for shoes!--
To a sordid speculator for a small sum.
A scrupulous savant, shocked, salvaged the set,
Sparing same from a certain, sorry state.

Some shards, swatches, slips, and slivers,
Shriveled, spoiled, scratched, and scathed,
Sorted now for serious systematic scanning
By a select circle of sanctioned specialists
Who've sequestered themselves,
Screened their studies under a shroud of secrecy,
And shamelessly eschewed sharing with separate scholars
Save for scant summaries shown in sapient symposia.
(Said scandal, since spawning several spiteful suits,
Should soon see a settlement satisfactory to all sides.)

Selected specimens sit securely
In a special, circular shelter
Of shape symbolizing
Their ceramic sconces,
Solemnly enshrined, safeguarded,
For the squinting scrutiny
Of streams of sidling sightseers.

Squabbling and speculation sustain on the subject;
Some are swift to swallow the sweeping statements
Of self-styled seers, solemn soothsayers,
Psychic sages, swamis, and esoteric sybils.
Specious unsupported suppositions
Spread from several such sources
Stretch certainty and strain sensibility.
Suspicion and skepticism are strongly suggested.

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