Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE

TRANSLATION OF CERTAIN PSALMS

INTO ENGLISH VERSE.

BY THE

RIGHT HONOURABLE FRANCIS LORD VERULAM, VISCOUNT ST. ALBAN.

Printed at London, 1625, in Quarto.

TO HIS VERY GOOD FRIEND, MR. GEORGE HERBERT.

The pains * that it pleased you to take about some of my writings, I cannot forget; which did put me in mind to dedicate to you this poor exercise of my sickness. Besides, it being my manner for dedications, to choose those that I hold most fit for the argument, I thought, that in respect of divinity and poesy met, whereof the one is the matter, the other the style of this little writing, I could not make better choice : so, with signification of my love and acknowledgment, I ever rest

Your affectionate Friend,

FR. ST. ALBAN.

actuut

а

For why ? the Lord hath special eye
THE TRANSLATION OF THE FIRST PSALM. To be the godly's stay at call :

And hath given over, righteously,
Who never gave to wicked reed

The wicked man to take his fall.
A yielding and attentive ear;
Who never sinners' paths did tread,

THE TRANSLATION OF THE XIIth PSALM.
Nor sat him down in scorner's chair ;
But maketh it his whole delight

HELP, Lord, for godly men have took their flight,
On law of God to meditate ;

And left the earth to be the wicked's den : And therein spendeth day and night :

Not one that standeth fast to truth and right, That man is in a happy state.

But fears, or seeks to please, the eyes of men.

When one with other falls in talk apart, [proof, He shall be like the fruitful tree,

Their meaning goeth not with tñeir words, in
Planted along a running spring,

But fair they flatter, with a cloven heart,
Which, in due season, constantly

By pleasing words, to work their own behoof.
A goodly yield of fruit doth bring :
Whose leaves continue always green,

But God cut off the lips, that are all set
And are no prey to winter's power:

To trap the harmless soul, that peace hath vowed;
So shall that man not once be seen

And pierce the tongues, that seek to counterfeit Surprised with an evil hour.

The confidence of truth, by lying loud :

Yet so they think to reign, and work their will With wicked men it is not so,

By subtile speech, which enters every where ; Their lot is of another kind :

And say: Our tongues are ours, to help us still ;
All as the chaff, which to and fro

What need we any higher power to fear ?
Is tossed at mercy of the wind.
And when he shall in judgment plead,

Now for the bitter sighing of the poor,
A casting sentence bide he must:

The Lord hath said, I will no more forbear
So shall he not lift up his head

The wicked's kingdom to invade and scour,
In the assembly of the just.

And set at large the men restrained in fear. * Of translating part of the Advancement of Learning in Latin.

:

And sure the word of God is pure and fine,

And in the trial never loseth weight;
Like noble gold, which, since it left the mine,

Hath seven times passed through the fiery strait,

Teach us, O Lord, to number well our days,

Thereby our hearts to wisdom to apply ;
For that which guides man best in all his ways,
Is meditation of mortality.

This bubble light, this vapour of our breath,
Teach us to consecrate to hour of death.

And now thou wilt not first thy word forsake,

Nor yet the righteous man that leans thereto; But wilt his safe protection undertake,

In spite of all their force and wiles can do. And time it is, O Lord, thou didst draw nigh ;

The wicked daily do enlarge their bands ; And that which makes them follow ill a vie,

Rule is betaken to unworthy hands.

Return unto us, Lord, and balance now,

With days of joy, our days of misery;
Help us right soon, our knees to thee we bow,
Depending wholly on thy clemency; (voice,

Then shall thy servants both with heart and
All the days of their life in thee rejoice.

THE TRANSLATION OF THE XCth PSALM. Begin thy work, O Lord, in this our age,

Show it unto thy servants that now live ; O LORD, thou art our home, to whom we fly, But to our children raise it many a stage, And so hast always been from age to age :

That all the world to thee may glory give. Before the hills did intercept the eye,

Our handy-work likewise, as fruitful tree, Or that the frame was up of earthly stage,

Let it, O Lord, blessed, not blasted be.
One God thou wert, and art, and still shalt be;
The line of time, it doth not measure thee.

THE TRANSLATION OF THE CIVth PSALM. Both death and life obey thy holy lore,

And visit in their turns, as they are sent; Father and King of powers, both high and low, A thousand years with thee they are no more Whose sounding fame all creatures serve to blow ; Than yesterday, which, ere it is, is spent : My soul shall with the rest strike up thy praise,

Or as a watch by night, that course doth keep, And carol of thy works and wondrous ways. And goes, and comes, unwares to them that sleep. But who can blaze thy beauties, Lord, aright?

They turn the brittle beams of mortal sight. Thou carry'st man away as with a tide: [high : Upon thy head thou wearest a glorious crown,

Then down swim all his thoughts that mounted All set with virtues, polished with renown: Much like a mocking dream, that will not bide, Thence round about a silver veil doth fall But flies before the sight of waking eye ;

Of crystal light, mother of colours all. Or as the grass, that cannot term obtain, The compass heaven, smooth without grain, or fold, To see the summer come about again.

All set with spangs of glittering stars untold,

And striped with golden beams of power unpent, At morning, fair it musters on the ground;

Is raised up for a removing tent. At even it is cut down, and laid along :

Vaulted and arched are his chamber beams And though it spared were, and favour found, Upon the seas, the waters, and the streams: The weather would perform the mower's wrong: The clouds as chariots swift do scour the sky;

Thus hast thou hanged our life on brittle pins, The stormy winds upon their wings do fly.
To let us know it will not bear our sins. His angels spirits are that wait his will,

As flames of fire his anger they fulfil.
Thou bury'st not within oblivion's tomb

In the beginning, with a mighty hand,
Our trespasses, but enterest them aright; He made the earth by counterpoise to stand,
Ev'n those that are conceived in darkness' womb, Never to move, but to be fixed still;
To thee appear as done at broad day-light. Yet hath no pillars but his sacred will.

As a tale told, which sometimes men attend, This earth, as with a veil, once covered was,
And sometimes not, our life steals to an end. The waters over-flowed all the mass:

But upon his rebuke away they fled,
The life of man is threescore years and ten,

And then the hills began to show their head; Or, if that he be strong, perhaps fourscore ; The vales their hollow bosoms opened plain, Yet all things are but labour to him then,

The streams ran trembling down the vales again : New sorrows still come on, pleasures no more. And that the earth no more might drowned be,

Why should there be such turmoil and such strife, He set the sea his bounds of liberty;
To spin in length this feeble line of life? And though his waves resound, and beat the shore,

Yet it is bridled by his holy lore.
But who considers duly of thine ire ?

Then did the rivers seek their proper places, Or doth the thoughts thereof wisely embrace ? And found their heads, their issues, and their races; For thon, O God, art a cons onsuming fire:

The springs do feed the rivers all the way, Frail man, how can he stand before thy face? And so the tribute to the sea repay :

If thy displeasure thou dost not refrain, Running along through many a pleasant field, A moment brings all back to dust again. Much fruitfulness unto the earth they yield :

That know the beasts and cattle feeding by, The glorious majesty of God above
Which for to slake their thirst do thither hie. Shall ever reign in mercy and in love;
Nay, desert grounds the streams do not forsake, God shall rejoice all his fair works to see,
But through the unknown ways their journey take: For as they come from him all perfect be.
The asses wild, that hide in wilderness,

The earth shall quake, if aught his wrath provoke ; Do thither come, their rst for to refresh.

Let him but touch the mountains they shall smoke. The shady trees along their banks do spring, As long as life doth last I hymns will sing, In which the birds do build, and sit, and sing ; With cheerful voice, to the eternal King; Stroking the gentle air with pleasant notes, As long as I have being, I will praise Plaining, or chirping through their warbling throats. The works of God, and all his wondrous ways. The higher grounds, where waters cannot rise, I know that he my words will not despise, By rain and dews are watered from the skies; Thanksgiving is to him a sacrifice. Causing the earth put forth the grass for beasts, But as for sinners they shall be destroyed And garden herbs, served at the greatest feasts; From off the earth, their places shall be void. And bread, that is all viands' firmament,

Let all his works praise him with one accord; And gives a firm and solid nourishment ;

O praise the Lord, my soul ; praise ye the Lord ! And wine, man's spirits for to recreate ; And oil, his face for to exhilarate. The sappy cedars, tall like stately towers,

THE TRANSLATION OF THE CXXVIth PSALM. High-flying birds do harbour in their bowers : The holy storks, that are the travellers,

When God returned us graciously
Choose for to dwell and build within the firs;

Unto our native land,
The climbing goats hang on steep mountains' side ; We seemed as in a dream to be,
The digging conies in the rocks do bide.

And in a maze to stand.
The moon, so constant in inconstancy,
Doth rule the monthly seasons orderly ;

The heathen likewise they could say:
The sun, eye of the world, doth know his race,

The God, that these men serve,
And when to show, and when to hide his face. Hath done great things for them this day,
Thou makest darkness, that it may be night,

Their nation to preserve.
When as the savage beasts, that fly the light,
As conscious of man's hatred, leave their den,

'Tis true; God hath poured out his grace And range abroad, secured from sight of men.

On us abundantly, Then do the forests ring of lions roaring,

For which we yield him psalms and praise. That ask their meat of God, their strength restoring;

And thanks with jubile.
But when the day appears, they back do fly,
And in their dens again do lurking lie.

O Lord, turn our captivity,
Then man goes forth to labour in the field,

As winds, that blow at south,
Whereby his grounds more rich increase may yield. Do pour the tides with violence
O Lord, thy providence sufficeth all;

Back to the rivers' mouth.
Thy goodness, not restrained, by general
Over thy creatures: the whole earth doth flow

Who sows in tears shall reap in joy,
With thy great largess poured forth here below.

The Lord doth so ordain ; Nor is it earth alone exalts thy name,

So that his seed be pure and good,
But seas and streams likewise do spread the same.

His harvest shall be gain.
The rolling seas unto the lot doth fall
Of beasts innumerable, great and small ;

THE TRANSLATION OF THE CXXXVIIth There do the stately ships plow up the floods,

PSALM.
The greater navies look like walking woods ;
The fishes there far voyages do make,

When as we sat, all sad and desolate,
To divers shores their journey they do take.

By Babylon upon the river's side, There hast thou set the great leviathan,

Eased from the tasks, which in our captive state That makes the seas to seethe like boiling pan. We were enforced daily to abide, All these do ask of thee their meat to live,

Our harps we had brought with us to the field, Which in due season thou to them dost give.

Some solace to our heavy souls to yield. Ope thou thy hand, and then they have good fare ; Shut thou thy hand, and then they troubled are. But soon we found we failed of our account, All life and spirit from thy breath proceed,

For when our minds some freedom did obtain, Thy word doth all things generate and feed. Straightways the memory of Sion Mount If thou withdrawest it, then they cease to be,

Did cause afresh our wounds to bleed again ; And straight return to dust and vanity ;

So that with present griefs, and future fears, But when thy breath thou dost send forth again,

Our eyes burst forth into a stream of tears. Then all things do renew and spring amain; So that the earth, but lately desolate,

As for our harps, since sorrow struck them dumb, Doth now return unto the former state.

We hanged them on the willow-trees were near;

[ocr errors]

Yet did our cruel masters to us come,

Yea, happy he, that takes thy children's bones, Asking of us some Hebrew songs to hear :

And dasheth them against the pavement stones. Taunting us rather in our misery, Than much delighting in our melody.

THE TRANSLATION OF THE CXLIXth PSALM. Alas, said we, who can once force or frame His grieved and oppressed heart to sing

() sing a new song to our God above, The praises of Jehovah's glorious name,

Avoid profane ones, 'tis for holy quire : In banishment, under a foreign king ?

Let Israel sing songs of holy love In Sion is his seat and dwelling-place,

To him that made them, with their hearts on fire: Thence doth he show the brightness of his face. Let Sion's sons lift up their voice and sing

Carols and anthems to their heavenly King. Jerusalem, where God his throne hath set,

Shall any hour absent thee from my mind ? Let not your voice alone his praise forth tell, Then let my right-hand quite her skill forget, But move withal, and praise him in the dance; Then let my voice and words no passage find; Cymbals and harps, let them be tuned well, Nay, if I do not thee prefer in all,

'Tis he that doth the poor's estate advance : That in the compass of my thoughts can fall. Do this not only on the solemn days,

But on your secret beds your spirits raise. Remember thou, O Lord, the cruel cry

Of Edom's children, which did ring and sound, O let the saints bear in their mouth his praise, Inciting the Chaldean's cruelty,

And a two-edged sword drawn in their hand, “Down with it, down with it, even unto the ground." There with for to revenge the former days In that good day repay it unto them,

Upon all nations that their zeal withstand; When thou shalt visit thy Jerusalem.

To bind their kings in chains of iron strong,

And manacle their nobles for their wrong. And thou, O Babylon, shalt have thy turn By just revenge, and happy shall he be,

Expect the time, for 'tis decreed in heaven, That thy proud walls and towers shall waste and burn, Such honour shall unto his saints be given.

And as thou didst by us, so do by thee.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

In the consideration of the present state of chris- | the next to the succession make already profession tendom, depending on the inclinations and qualities of the reformed religion, besides the increase thereof of the princes, governors of the same, first the per- daily in France : England and Scotland are already, son of the pope, acknowledged for supreme of the God be thanked, quite reformed, with the better part princes catholic, may be brought forth.

of Germany. And because the queen's Majesty Gregory XIII. of the age of seventy hath that reputation to be the defender of the true Pope

years, by surname Boncompagno, born religion and faith ; against her Majesty, as the head in Bolonia of the meanest state of the people, of the faithful, is the drift of all their mischiefs. his father a shoemaker by occupation : of no great The king of Spain having erected, in his conceit

, learning nor understanding, busy rather in practice, a monarchy, wherein seeking reputation in the prothan desirous of wars, and that rather to farther the tection of religion, this conjunction with the pope is advancement of his son and his house, a respect as necessary to him for the furtherance of his purhighly regarded of all the popes, than of any in- poses, as to the pope behoveful for the advancing of clination of nature, the which, yet in these years, his house, and for his authority; the king of Spain abhorreth not his secret pleasures. Howbeit, two having already bestowed on the pope's son, degree things especially have set so sharp edge to him, of title and of office, with great revenues. To enwhereby he doth bend himself so vehemently against courage the pope herein, being head of the church, religion. The one is a mere necessity, the other they set before him the analogy of the name Gregory, the solicitation of the king of Spain. For, if we saying, that we were first under a Gregory brought consider duly the estate of the present time, we to the faith, and by a Gregory are again to be reshall find he is not so much carried with the desire duced to the obedience of Rome. to suppress our religion, as driven with the fear of A prophecy likewise is found out that foretelleth, the downfall of his own, if in time it be not upheld " the dragon sitting in the chair of Peter, great and restored.

things should be brought to pass.” The reasons be these : he seeth the king of Spain Thus is the king of France solicited against those already in years, and worn with labour and troubles, of the religion in France: the emperor against those that there is little hope in him of long life. And he in his dominions; divisions set in Germany ; the

; failing, there were likely to ensue great alterations of Low Countries miserably oppressed ; and daily atstate in all his dominions, the which should be join- tempts against her Majesty, both by force and praced with the like in religion, especially in this di- tice; hereto serve the seminaries, where none are vided time, and in Spain, already so forward, as the now admitted, but those who take the oath against fury of the inquisition can scarce keep in.

her Majesty. In France, the state of that church seemeth to The sect of the Jesuits are special instruments to depend on the sole life of the king now reigning, alienate the people from her Majesty, sow faction, being of a weak constitution, full of infirmities, not and to absolve them of the oath of obedience, and likely to have long life, and quite out of hope of prepare the way to rebellion and revolt. any issue. Of the duke of Anjou he doth not assure Besides, for confirmation of their own religion himself; besides the opinion conceived of the weak- | they have used some reformation of the clergy, and ness of the complexion of all that race, giving nei- brought in catechising. ther hope of length of life nor of children. And

:

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »