Page:The Works of Francis Bacon (1884) Volume 2.djvu/443

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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[1] 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 Ist PSALM.

Who never gave to wicked reed
 A yielding and attentive car;
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 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:
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 everywhere;
And say: Our tongues are ours, to help us still;
 What need we any higher pow'r to fear?

  1. Of translating part of the Advancement of Learning into Latin.