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TRANSLATION OF CERTAIN PSALMS
INTO ENGLISH VERSE.
RIGHT HONOURABLE FRANCIS LORD VERULAM, VISCOUNT ST. ALBAN.
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.
THE TRANSLATION OF THE FIRST PSALM.
Who never gave to wicked reed
A yielding and attentive ear; Who never sinners' paths did tread,
Nor sat him down in Boomer'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, Which, in due season, constantly
A goodly yield of fruit doth bring: Whose leaves continue always green,
And are no prey to winter's power: 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:
Is tossed 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: And hath given over, righteously,
The wicked man to take his fall.
THE TRANSLATION OF THE Xllth 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, [proof,
Their meaning goeth not with their words, in 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 vowed; And pierce the tongues, that seek to counterfeit
The confidence of truth, by lying loud:
By subtile speech, which enters every where; And say: Our tongues are ours, to help us still;
What need we any higher power 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,
* Of translating part of the Advancement of Learning in Latin.
And sure the word of God is pure and fine,
Like noble gold, which, since it left the mine,
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 XCth PSALM.
0 Lord, thou art our home, to whom we fly,
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 as with a tide: [high:
At morning, fair it musters on the ground;
At even 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 hanged 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 enterest them aright; Ev'n those that are conceived 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 turmoil 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 P If thy displeasure thou dost not refrain, A moment brings all back to dust again.
Teach us, O Lord, to number well our days,
This bubble light, this vapour of our breath,
Return unto us, Lord, and balance now,
Begin thy work, O Lord, in this our age,
Show it unto thy servants that now live;
THE TRANSLATION OF THE CIVth PSALM.
Father and King of powers, both high and low,
Whose sounding fame all creatures serve to blow;
My soul shall with the rest strike up thy praise,
And carol of thy works and wondrous ways.
But who can blaze thy beauties, Lord, aright?
They turn the brittle beams of mortal sight
Upon thy head thou wearest a glorious crown,
All set with virtues, polished with renown:
Thence round about a silver veil doth fall
Of crystal light, mother of colours all.
The compass heaven, smooth without grain, or fold,
All set with spangs of glittering stars untold,
And striped with golden beams of power unpent,
Is raised up for a removing tent.
Vaulted and arched are his chamber beams
Upon the seas, the waters, and the streams:
The clouds as chariots swift do scour the sky;
The stormy winds upon their wings do fly.
His angels spirits are that wait his will,
As flames of fire his anger they fulfil.
In the beginning, with a mighty hand,
He made the earth by counterpoise to stand,
Never to move, but to be fixed still;
Yet hath no pillars but his sacred will.
This earth, as with a veil, once covered was,
The waters over-flowed all the mass:
But upon his rebuke away they fled,
And then the hills began to show their head;
The vales their hollow bosoms opened plain,
The streams ran trembling down the vales again:
And that the earth no more might drowned be,
He set the sea his bounds of liberty;
And though his waves resound, and beat the shore,
Yet it is bridled by his holy lore.
Then did the rivers seek their proper places,
And found their heads, their issues, and their races;
The springs do feed the rivers all the way,
And so the tribute to the sea repay:
Running along through many a pleasant field,
Much fruitfulness unto the earth they yield:
That know the beasts and cattle feeding by,
Which for to slake their thirst do thither hie.
Nay, desert grounds the streams do not forsake,
But through the unknown ways their journey take:
The asses wild, that hide in wilderness,
Do thither come, their thirst for to refresh.
The shady trees along their banks do spring,
In which the birds do build, and sit, and sing;
Stroking the gentle air with pleasant notes,
Plaining, or chirping through their warbling throats.
The higher grounds, where waters cannot rise,
By rain and dews are watered from the skies;
Causing the earth put forth the grass for beasts,
And garden herbs, served at the greatest feasts;
And bread, that is all viands' firmament,
And gives a firm and solid nourishment;
And wine, man's spirits for to recreate;
And oil, his face for to exhilarate.
The sappy cedars, tall like stately towers,
High-tlying birds do harbour in their bowers:
The holy storks, that are the travellers,
Choose for to dwell and build within the firs;
The climbing goats hang on steep mountains' side;
The digging conies in the rocks do bide.
The moon, so constant in inconstancy,
Doth rule the monthly seasons orderly;
The sun, eye of the world, doth know his race,
And when to show, and when to hide his face.
Thou makest darkness, that it may be night,
When as the savage beasts, that fly the light,
As conscious of man's hatred, leave their den,
And range abroad, secured from sight of men.
Then do the forests ring of lions roaring,
That ask their meat of God, their strength restoring;
But when the day appears, they back do fly,
And in their dens again do lurking lie.
Then man goes forth to labour in the field,
Whereby his grounds more rich increase may yield.
0 Lord, thy providence sufficeth all;
Thy goodness, not restrained, by general
Over thy creatures: the whole earth doth flow
With thy great largess poured forth here below.
Nor is it earth alone exalts thy name,
But seas and streams likewise do spread the same.
The rolling seas unto the lot doth fall
Of beasts innumerable, great and small;
There do the stately ships plow up the floods,
The greater navies look like walking woods;
The fishes there far voyages do make,
To divers shores their journey they do take.
There hast thou set the great leviathan,
That makes the seas to seethe like boiling pan.
All these do ask of thee their meat to live,
Which in due season thou to them dost give.
Ope thou thy hand, and then they have good fare;
Shut thou thy hand, and then they troubled are.
All life and spirit from thy breath proceed,
Thy word doth all things generate and feed.
If thou withdrawest it, then they cease to be,
And straight return to dust and vanity;
But when thy breath thou dost send forth again,
Then all things do renew and spring amain;
So that the earth, but lately desolate,
Doth now return unto the former state.
The glorious majesty of God above
Shall ever reign in mercy and in love;
God shall rejoice all his fair works to see,
For as they come from him all perfect be.
The earth shall quake, if aught his wrath provoke;
Let him but touch the mountains they shall smoke.
As long as life doth last I hymns will sing,
With cheerful voice, to the eternal King;
As long as I have being, I will praise
The works of God, and all his wondrous ways.
I know that he my words will not despise,
Thanksgiving is to him a sacrifice.
But as for sinners they shall be destroyed
From off the earth, their places shall be void.
Let all his works praise him with one accord;
0 praise the Lord, my soul; praise ye the Lord!
THE TRANSLATION OF THE CXXVIth PSALM.
When God returned us graciously
Unto our native land,
And in a maze to stand.
The heathen likewise they could say:
The God, that these men serve,
Their nation to preserve.
'Tis true; God hath poured out his grace
On us abundantly,
And thanks with jubile.
0 Lord, turn our captivity,
As winds, that blow at south, Do pour the tides with violence
Back to the rivers' mouth.
Who sows in tears shall reap in joy,
The Lord doth so ordain;
His harvest shall be gain.
THE TRANSLATION OF THE CXXXVIIth
When as we sat, all sad and desolate,
By Babylon upon the river's side,
Our harps we had brought with us to the field,
But soon we found we failed of our account,
For when our minds some freedom did obtain, Straightways the memory of Sion Mount Did cause afresh our wounds to bleed again: So that with present griefs, and future fears, Our eyes burst forth into a stream of tears.
As for our harps, since sorrow struck them dumb, We hanged them on the willow-trees were near; Yet did our cruel masters to us come,
Asking of us some Hebrew songs to hear:
Alas, said we, who can once force or frame
Jerusalem, where God his throne hath set,
Shall any hour absent thee from my mind? Then let my right-hand quite her skill forget, Then let my voice and words no passage find; Nay, if I do not thee prefer in all, That in the compass of my thoughts can fall.
Remember thou, O Lord, the cruel cry
Of Edom's children, which did ring and sound,
And thou, O Babylon, shalt have thy turn
That thy proud walls and towers shall waste and bum,
Yea, happy he, that takes thy children's bones,
THE TRANSLATION OF THE CXLIXth PSALM.
O Sing a new song to our God above,
Avoid profane ones, 'tis for holy quire: Let Israel sing songs of holy love
To him that made them, with their hearts on fire: Let Sion's sons lift up their voice and sing Carols and anthems to their heavenly King.
Let not your voice alone his praise forth tell,
But move withal, and praise him in the dance j
O let the saints bear in their mouth his praise,
Expect the time, for 'tis decreed in heaven,
STATE OF EUROPE.
[WRITTEN ABOUT THE YEAR 1580.]
In the consideration of the present state of Christendom, depending on the inclinations and qualities of the princes, governors of the same, first the person of the pope, acknowledged for supreme of the princes catholic, may be brought forth.
Pope Gregory XIII. of the age of seventy
years, by surname Boncompagno, born in Bolonia of the meanest state of the people, his father a shoemaker by occupation: of no great learning nor understanding, busy rather in practice, than desirous of wars, and that rather to farther the advancement of his son and his house, a respect highly regarded of all the popes, than of any inclination of nature, the which, yet in these years, abhorreth not his secret pleasures. Howbeit, two things especially have set 60 sharp edge to him, whereby he doth bend himself so vehemently against religion. The one is a mere necessity, the other the solicitation of the king of Spain. For, if we consider duly the estate of the present time, we shall find he is not so much carried with the desire to suppress our religion, as driven with the fear of the downfall of his own, if in time it be not upheld and restored.
The reasons be these : he seeth the king of Spain already in years, and worn with labour and troubles, that there is little hope in him of long life. And he failing, there were likely to ensue great alterations of state in all his dominions, the which should be joined with the like in religion, especially in this divided time, and in Spain, already so forward, as the fury of the inquisition can scarce keep in.
In France, the state of that church seemeth to depend on the sole life of the king now reigning, being of a weak constitution, full of infirmities, not likely to have long life, and quite out of hope of any issue. Of the duke of Anjou he doth not assure himself; besides the opinion conceived of the weakness of the complexion of all that race, giving neither hope of length of life nor of children. And
the next to the succession make already profession of the reformed religion, besides the increase thereof daily in France: England and Scotland are already, God be thanked, quite reformed, with the better part of Germany. And because the queen's Majesty hath that reputation to be the defender of the true religion and faith; against her Majesty, as the head of the faithful, is the drift of all their mischiefs.
The king of Spain having erected, in his conceit, a monarchy, wherein seeking reputation in the protection of religion, this conjunction with the pope is as necessary to him for the furtherance of his purposes, as to the pope behoveful for the advancing of his house, and for his authority j the king of Spain having already bestowed on the pope's son, degree of title and of office, with great revenues. To encourage the pope herein, being head of the church, they set before him the analogy of the name Gregory, saying, that we were first under a Gregory brought to the faith, and by a Gregory are again to be reduced to the obedience of Rome.
A prophecy likewise is found out that foretelleth, "the dragon sitting in the chair of Peter, great things should be brought to pass."
Thus is the king of France solicited against those of the religion in France: the emperor against those in his dominions; divisions set in Germany; the Low Countries miserably oppressed; and daily attempts against her Majesty, both by force and practice; hereto serve the seminaries, where none are now admitted, but those who take the oath against her Majesty.
The sect of the Jesuits are special instruments to alienate the people from her Majesty, sow faction, and to absolve them of the oath of obedience, and prepare the way to rebellion and revolt
Besides, for confirmation of their own religion they have used some reformation of the clergy, and brought in catechising.