F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp

Published On


Page Range

pp. 337–350


  • English

Print Length

13 pages


  • F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp (author)
The main aim of this study is to measure the KJB’s impact on Whitman’s poetic style, especially as it is developing in the immediate run-up to the 1855 Leaves and during the period of the first three editions more generally. The style of Whitman’s later poems shifts dramatically in places (e.g., shorter lines, more conventional punctuation, less aversion to stock phrases) and a full accounting of the stylistic debt Whitman owes to the English Bible would require an equally substantial engagement with these later materials. This brief “Afterword” gestures toward this fuller accounting to come through a reading of Whitman’s late (and posthumously published) “Death’s Valley” (1889), a poem simultaneously provoked by George Inness’s painting, “The Valley of the Shadow of Death” (1867) and the psalm of the latter’s inspiration, including that most mesmerizing of the KJB’s mistranslations, “the valley of the shadow of death,” which Whitman deftly (and unbiblically) rephrases in his title.


F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp

James Lenox Librarian and Professor of Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary

F. W. “Chip” Dobbs-Allsopp is the James Lenox Librarian and professor of Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary. He holds a B.A. from Furman University (1984), an M.Div. from the Seminary (1987), and a Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University (1992). He joined the faculty of the Seminary in 1999 after spending five years teaching at Yale University (1994-99). He loves sailing and poetry and has been known to enjoy a glass of wine or a wee dram of whiskey. His research interests include the historical, philological, and literary study of biblical and ancient Near Eastern literature (with special focus on poetry and Northwest Semitic inscriptions). Dobbs-Allsopp’s most recent book is On Biblical Poetry (New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015). Current projects include a monograph-length study of the poetry of Walt Whitman, provisionally entitled, Divine Style: Walt Whitman and the King James Bible., a critical commentary on the book of Lamentations in the Hermeneia series (co-authored with J. Blake Couey), and The Digital Brooklyn Museum Aramaic Papyri: An Image-Based Electronic Edition & Archive.