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You that of music make such show,
Come sing us now a Zion lay.
O no, we have nor voice, nor hand,
For such a song, in such a land.

Though far I lie, sweet Zion hill,

In foreign soil exil'd from thee,
Yet let my hand forget his skill,
If ever thou forgotten be:
Yet let my tongue fast glued still
Unto my roof lie mute in me:
If thy neglect within me spring,
Or aught I do but Salem sing.

But Thou, O Lord, wilt not forget
To quit the pains of Edom's race,
Who causelessly, yet hotly set
Thy holy city to deface.

Did thus the bloody victors whet

What time they entered first the place:

Down down with it at any hand,

Make all flat plain, let nothing stand.

And Babylon, that did us waste,
Shall one day wasted be;

And happy he, who what thou hast
Unto us done, shall do to thee,
Like bitterness shall make thee taste,

Like woful objects cause thee sce:

Yea happy, who thy little ones

Shall take and dash against the stones.


Of his long dark evening this illustrious philosopher* spent a portion in versifying the Psalms of David. He published seven, and inscribed them "to his very good friend, George Herbert." A Latin poem which Herbert addressed to Bacon

* Born at London, January 22, 1561: died there, April 9, 1626.


125 in return, is included in some editions of Herbert's works; and the original autograph is now in the possession of a learned friend of our own, rich in similar curiosities. Regarding this version, a recent critic* has thus given his judgment:

"No one knew better than Bacon the difference between writing verses and poetry. The former, says he, 'is but a character of style, and belongeth to arts of speech,' the latter 'is one of the principal portions of learning, and is nothing else but feigned history, which may be styled as well in prose as in verse.' Bacon therefore proposes to translate these Psalms of David into English verse, capable of being united to music, to form a holy song. How faithfully he has discharged his duty as a translator any one may ascertain by comparing his version with that in the Bible or Prayer Book. But the great difficulty he had to encounter was so to adapt his verse that the accompanying music should mend, not mar the sense. In reading, the emphasis and the cadence may be varied to help the sense without injury to the rhythm; but in a tune, as the notes return in uniform and regular order, the cadence and expression of the verse must be arranged so as to correspond with it. To this end, it is of the first importance that the sense should be so complete in each line as to admit of a pause at the close. It is either because our writers do not understand, or else are not able to effect this, that in listening to vocal music, we are often compelled to detach our attention from, and totally disregard the words-if, indeed, they are intelligible-and abandon ourselves to the mere sensuous indulgence of listening to the sweet sounds. Bacon, in this Translation of Certain Psalms into English Verse,' has triumphed over all the difficulties which beset this style of composition."

* Mr W. H. Smith, in The Athenæum, Jan. 24, 1857.

Psalm xc.

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 as 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 sometimes 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 tormoil and such strife,
To spin in length this feeble line of life?

But who considers duly of Thine ire?

Or doth the thoughts thereof wisely embrace?
For Thou, O God, art a consuming fire:
Frail man, how can he stand before Thy face?
If Thy displeasure Thou dost not refrain,
A moment brings all back to dust again.

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.

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;

Then shall Thy servants, both with heart and voice,

All the days of their life in Thee rejoice.

Begin Thy work, O Lord, in this our age,
Shew it unto Thy servants that now live;
But to our children raise it many a stage,
That all the world to Thee may glory give.
Our handiwork likewise, as fruitful tree,
Let it, O Lord, blessed, not blasted be.



In 1631, this versatile and productive poet gave forth a version of the Psalms, which is now become so scarce that we have never met with a copy. The 137th Psalm we reprint from a modern collection, and the somewhat free trans

lation of the 148th we transcribe from Wither's "Preparation They give us a high idea of the powers of the

to the Psalter." author.

Psalm cxxxvii.

As nigh Babel's streams we sat,
Full of grief and unbefriended,
Minding Sion's poor estate,

From our eyes the tears descended;
And our harps we hanged high

On the willows growing nigh.

For (insulting on our woe)

They that had us here enthralled,

Their imperious power to shew,

For a song of Sion called;

Come, ye captives, come, said they,

Sing us now an Hebrew lay.

But, oh Lord, what heart had we,

In a foreign habitation,
To repeat our songs of Thee,

For our spoilers' recreation?

Ah, alas! we cannot yet

Thee, Jerusalem, forget.

Oh, Jerusalem, if I

Do not mourn, all pleasure shunning,
Whilst thy walls defaced be,

Let my right hand lose his cunning,

And for ever let my tongue

To my palate fast be clung.

Psalm cxlviii.

Come, O come; with sacred lays,
Let us sound th' Almighty's praise.
Hither bring, in true consent,
Heart, and voice, and instrument.

Let the Orphurion sweet

With the harp and viol meet.

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