A reading of 'The Destruction of Sennacherib'

The Destruction of Sennacherib is a short narrative poem retelling a Biblical story from the Old Testament (2 Kings, chapter 19) in which God destroys King Sennacherib’s Assyrian army as they attack the holy city of Jerusalem. It is probably as well-known for the way in which the poem is constructed as it is for its subject matter.

The speaker sets out events in chronological order. He seems impressed by the might and splendour of the Assyrian army when describing their appearance in the first six lines. However, halfway through the second stanza comes a turning point as he realises the Assyrians’ strength is short-lived. He then goes on to tell how the Angel of Death has passed through their camp wiping them out. Although the Assyrians may have been mighty, the speaker realises that the power of God is even mightier.

Read the poem here.