November Poem--Mary Sidney Herbert (Countess of Pembroke)--Psalm 52


I delight in these finely etched translations of Mary Sidney Herbert. There is something magnificent in the way they capture the essence of the psalm in tightly metrical verse. These could truly be put to music and sound most wonderful.

Psalm 52
Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, 1599

TYRANT, why swell'st thou thus,
Of mischief vaunting?
Since help from God to us
Is never wanting.

Lewd lies thy tongue contrives,
Loud lies it soundeth;
Sharper than sharpest knives
With lies it woundeth.

Falsehood thy wit approves,
All truth rejected:
Thy will all vices loves,
Virtue neglected.

Not words from cursed thee,
But gulfs are poured;
Gulfs wherein daily be
Good men devoured.

Think'st thou to bear it so?
God shall displace thee;
God shall thee overthrow,
Crush thee, deface thee.

The just shall fearing see
These fearful chances,
And laughing shoot at thee
With scornful glances.

Lo, lo, the wretched wight,
Who God disdaining,
His mischief made his might,
His guard his gaining.

I as an olive tree
Still green shall flourish:
God's house the soil shall be
My roots to nourish.

My trust in his true love
Truly attending,
Shall never thence remove,
Never see ending.

Thee will I honour still,
Lord, for this justice;
There fix my hopes I will
Where thy saints' trust is.

Thy saints trust in thy name,
Therein they joy them:
Protected by the same,
Naught can annoy them.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 16, 2003 11:53 AM.

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