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THE TRANSLATION OF CERTAIN PSALMS
INTO ENGLISH VERSE.
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 pocsy met, whereof the one is the matter, the other the stile 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.
* Of translating part of the Advancement of Learning into Latin.
THE TRANSLATION OF THE Ist PSALM.
Who never gave to wicked reed
A yielding and attentive ear; Who never sinners paths did tread,
Nor sat him down in scorner's chair ;
On law of God to meditate;
That man is in a happy state.
He shall be like the fruitful tree,
Planted along a running spring,
A goodly yield of fruit doth bring :
And are no prey to winter's pow'r :
Surprised with an evil hour.
With wicked men it is not so,
Their lot is of another kind :
Is toss'd at mercy of the wind.
A casting sentence bide he must :
In the assembly of the just.
For why? the Lord hath special eye
To be the godly's stay at call :
The wicked man to take his fall.
THE TRANSLATION OF THE XIIth PSALM.
HELP, Lord, for godly men have took their flight,
And left the earth to be the wicked's den : Not one that standeth fast to truth and right,
But fears, or seeks to please, the eyes of men. When one with other falls in talk apart,
Their meaning go'th not with their words, in proof, But fair they flatter, with a cloven heart,
By pleasing words, to work their own behoof.
But God cut off the lips, that are all set
To trap the harmless soul, that peace hath vow'd; And pierce the tongues, that seek to counterfeit
The confidence of truth, by lying loud :
By subtile speech, which enters ev'ry where;
What need we any higher pow'r to fear?
Now for the bitter sighing of the poor,
The Lord hath said, I will no more forbear The wicked's kingdom to invade and scour,
And set at large the men restrain'd in fear.
And sure the word of God is pu re and fine,
And in the trial never loseth weight;
Hath seven times passed through the fiery strait
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,
THE TRANSLATION OF THE XCTII PSALM;
O Lord, thou art our home, to whom we fly,
And so hast always been from age to age :
One God thou wert, and art, and still shalt be ;
Both death and life obey thy holy lore,
And visit in their turns, as they are sent;
Or as a watch by night, that course doth keep,
Thou carry'st man away with a tide:
Or as the grass, that cannot term obtain,
At morning, fair it musters on the ground;
At ev’n it is cut down, and laid along :
Thus hast thou hang'd our life on brittle pins,
Thou bury'st not within oblivion's tomb
Our trespasses, but ent’rest them aright;
As a tale told, which sometime men attend,
The life of man is threescore years and ten,
Or, if that he be strong, perhaps fourscore;
Why should there be such turmoil and such strise,