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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 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.

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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 ;
But maketh it his whole delight

On law of God to meditate;
And therein spendeth day and night :

That man is in a happy state.

He shall be like the fruitful tree,

Planted along a running spring,
Which, in due season, constantly

A goodly yield of fruit doth bring :
Whose leaves continue always green,

And are no prey to winter's pow'r :
So shall that man not once be seen

Surprised with an evil hour.

With wicked men it is not so,

Their lot is of another kind :
All as the chaff, which to and fro

Is toss'd at mercy of the wind.
And when he shall in judgment plead,

A casting sentence bide he must :
So shall he not lift up his head

In the assembly of the just.

For why? the Lord hath special eye

To be the godly's stay at call :
And hath given over, righteously,

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 :
Yet so they think to reign, and work their will

By subtile speech, which enters ev'ry where;
And say: Our tongues are ours, to help us still ;

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;
Like noble gold, which, since it left the mine,

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 :
Before the hills did intercept the eye,
Or that the frame was up of earthly stage,

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

Both death and life obey thy holy lore,

And visit in their turns, as they are sent;
A thousand years with thee they are no more
Than yesterday, which, ere it is, is spent :

Or as a watch by night, that course doth keep,
And goes, and comes, unwares to them that

sleep.

Thou carry'st man away with a tide:
Then down swim all his thoughts that mounted

high :
Much like a mocking dream, that will not bide,
But flies before the sight of waking eye;

Or as the grass, that cannot term obtain,
To see the summer come about again.

At morning, fair it musters on the ground;

At ev’n it is cut down, and laid along :
And though it spared were, and favour found,
The weather would perform the mower's wrong:

Thus hast thou hang'd our life on brittle pins,
To let us know it will not bear our sins.

Thou bury'st not within oblivion's tomb

Our trespasses, but ent’rest them aright;
Ev'n those that are conceiv'd in darkness' womb,
To thee appear as done at broad day-light.

As a tale told, which sometime men attend,
And sometimes not, our life steals to an end.

The life of man is threescore years and ten,

Or, if that he be strong, perhaps fourscore;
Yet all things are but labour to him then,
New sorrows still come on, pleasures no more.

Why should there be such turmoil and such strise,
To spin in length this feeble line of life?

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