2

From "A Living and a Dead Faith" by William Cowper (part of the "Olney Hymns"):

With golden bells, the priestly vest,
And rich pomegranates border'd round,
The need of holiness expressed,
And called for fruit as well as sound.

There are no finite verbs in the sentence. I presume that there is an omission of the verb is before "expressed":

With golden bells, the priestly vest,
And rich pomegranates border'd round,
The need of holiness is expressed,
And called for fruit as well as sound.

But then I cannot account for "called". I cannot imagine the verb is before "called". If I put is before "called", I get

The need of holiness is called for fruit as well as sound.

This does not seem to work.

So we seemingly have the non-finite verb "called" unattached to any finite verb.

Is this an example of poetic license, with a non-finite verb "hanging in the air" ungrammatically? Or am I missing something?

I understand the general meaning of the stanza, but the parts of the sentence do not seem to dovetail together.

3

There are two finite verbs in this stanza, expressed and called; their subject is the priestly vest (vest for vestment, 'robe' in the Authorized Version)— see Ex 28:33-34

And beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about.

In Cowper's interpretation, this vest, bordered around with pomegranates and bells, expressed the need for holiness but also demanded the 'fruit' of holiness, explained in the next stanza as faith and love.

  • Oh, I thought it was a list of things! I thought "golden bells" were church bells that look golden. It would have been more understandable if the verbs were "expresses" and "calls". Because logically it still expresses that with its golden bells and pomegranates. – CowperKettle Feb 27 '16 at 18:21
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    @CopperKettle It's past tense because he's speaking of past sacra. The office of high priest disappeared when the Temple was destroyed, and his vestments disappeared too. So did the Ark, until Indiana Jones found it and stored it in a warehouse in Arizona. – StoneyB Feb 27 '16 at 18:37
  • Ah, it's "High Priest of Israel". I would never have guessed. – CowperKettle Feb 27 '16 at 18:40

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