Verse > Sir Thomas Wyatt > Poetical Works
Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503–42).  The Poetical Works.  1880.
Penitential Psalms
The Prologue of the Author


  CONSIDERING the manifold duties and abundant service that I owe unto your good Lordship, right honourable and my singular good Lord, I cannot but see infinite causes why I, chiefly of all others, ought with all cheerful and ready endeavour to gratify your good Lordship by all means possible, and to apply myself wholly to the same, as one that would gladly, but can by no means be able to do accordingly as his bounden duty requireth: I cannot, I say, but see and acknowledge myself bounden, and not able to do such service as I owe, both for the inestimable benefits that your noble progenitors, and also your good Lordship hath shewed unto my parents and predecessors, and also to myself, as to one least able to do any acceptable service, though the will be at all times most ready. In token whereof, your Lordship shall at all times perceive by simple things that my little wit shall be able to invent, that if mine heart could do you any service, no labour or travail should withhold me from doing my duty; and that if busy labour and the heart might be able to pay the duty that love oweth, your Lordship should in no point find me ingrate or unthankful. And to declare this my ready will, I have dedicated unto your name this little treatise, which, after I had perused and by the advice of others (better learned than myself) determined to put it in print, that the noble fame of so worthy a Knight as was the author hereof, Sir Thomas Wyatt, should not perish but remain, as well for his singular learning as valiant deeds in martial feats, I thought that I could not find a more worthy patron for such a man’s work than your Lordship, whom I have always known to be of so godly a zeal to the furtherance of God’s holy and sacred Gospel, most humbly beseeching your good Lordship herein to accept my good will, and to esteem me as one that wisheth unto the same all honour, health, and prosperous success. Amen.
Your good Lordship’s
                  most humble at commandment,

H. S.

THE GREAT Macedon that out of Persia chased
Darius, of whose huge power all Asia rang;
In the rich ark if Homer’s rhymes he placed,
Who feigned gests of heathen princes sang;        5
What holy grave, what worthy sepulture
To Wyatt’s Psalms should Christians then purchase,
Where he doth paint the lively faith and pure,
The steadfast hope, the sweet return to grace
Of just David by perfect penitence;        10
Where rulers may see in a mirrour clear,
The bitter fruits of false concupiscence,
How Jewry bought Urias’ death full dear.
In princes hearts God’s scourge y-printed deep,
Ought them awake out of their sinful sleep.        15
The Prologue of the Author

LOVE, to give law unto his subjects’ hearts,
Stood in the eyes of Batsabé the bright;
And in a look anon himself converts
Cruelly pleasant before King David’s sight,
First dazed his eyes, and further-forth he starts        20
With venom’d breath, as softly as he might
Touches his sinews, and overruns his bones
With creeping fire, sparkled for the nones.
And when he saw that kindled was the flame,
The moist poison in his heart he lanced,        25
So that the soul did tremble with the same;
And in this brawl as he stood entranced,
Yielding unto the figure and the frame,
That those fair eyes had in his presence glanced;
The form, that Love had printed in his breast,        30
He honoureth as a thing of thinges best.
So that, forgot the wisdom and forecast,
Which woe to realms, when that the King doth lack;
Forgetting eke God’s Majesty as fast,
Yea and his own; forthwith he doth to make        35
Urie to go into the field in haste,
Urie, I say, that was his jewel’s make,
Under pretence of certain victory,
For the enemies’ swords a ready prey to be.
Whereby he may enjoy her out of doubt,        40
Whom more than God or himself he mindeth:
And after he had brought this thing about,
And of that lust possess’d himself, he findeth
That hath and doth reverse and clean turn out
Kings from kingdoms, and cities undermineth;        45
He blinded thinks, this train so blind and close,
To blind all things, that nought may it disclose.
But Nathan hath spied out this treachery,
With rueful cheer; and sets afore his face
The great offence, outrage, and injury,        50
That he hath done to God, as in this case,
By murder for to cloak adultery:
He sheweth eke from heaven the threats, alas!
So sternly sore this Prophet, this Nathan,
That all amazed was this woful man.        55
Like him that meets with horror and with fear;
The heat doth straight forsake the limbes cold,
The colour eke droopeth down from his cheer;
So doth he feel his fire manifold,
His heat, his lust, his pleasure all in fere        60
Consume and waste: and straight his crown of gold,
His purple pall, his sceptre he lets fall,
And to the ground he throweth himself withal.
Then pompous pride of state, and dignity
Forthwith rebates repentant humbleness:        65
Thinner vile cloth than clotheth poverty
Doth scantly hide and clad his nakedness:
His fair hoar beard of reverent gravity,
With ruffled hair, knowing his wickedness:
More like was he the selfsame repentance        70
Than stately prince of worldly governance.
His harp he taketh in hand to be his guide,
Wherewith he offereth plaints, his soul to save,
That from his heart distills on every side.
Withdrawing himself into a dark deep cave        75
Within the ground, wherein he might him hide,
Flying the light, as in prison or grave;
In which, as soon as David entered had,
The dark horror did make his soul adrad.
But he, without prolonging or delay        80
Of that, which might his Lord his God appease,
Falleth on his knees, and with his harp, I say,
Afore his breast yfraughted with disease
Of stormy sighs, deep draughts of his decay,
Dressed upright, seeking to counterpoise        85
His song with sighs, and touching of the strings,
With tender heart, lo, thus to God he sings.
Domine, ne in furore 1

O LORD! since in my mouth thy mighty name
Suffereth itself, my Lord, to name and call,
Here hath my heart hope taken by the same;        90
That the repentance, which I have and shall,
May at thy hand seek mercy, as the thing
Of only comfort of wretched sinners all:
Whereby I dare with humble bemoaning,
By thy goodness, this thing of thee require:        95
Chastise me not for my deserving
According to thy just conceived ire.
O Lord! I dread: and that I did not dread
I me repent; and evermore desire
Thee Thee to dread. I open here, and spread        100
My fault to thee: but thou, for thy goodness,
Measure it not in largeness, nor in breade:
Punish it not as asketh the greatness
Of thy furor, provoked by mine offence.
Temper, O Lord, the harm of my excess,        105
With mending will, that I for recompense
Prepare again: and rather pity me;
For I am weak, and clean without defence;
More is the need I have of remedy.
For of the whole the leche taketh no cure;        110
The sheep that strayeth the shepherd seeks to see.
I, Lord, am stray’d; and, seke 2 without recure,
Feel all my limbs, that have rebelled, for fear
Shake in despair, unless thou me assure:
My flesh is troubled, my heart doth fear the spear.        115
That dread of death, of death that ever lasts,
Threateth of right, and draweth near and near.
Much more my soul is troubled by the blasts
Of these assaults, that come as thick as hail,
Of worldly vanities, that temptation casts        120
Against the bulwark of the fleshe frail.
Wherein the soul in great perplexity
Feeleth the senses with them that assail
Conspire, corrupt by pleasure and vanity:
Whereby the wretch doth to the shade resort        125
Of hope in Thee, in this extremity.
But thou, O Lord, how long after this sort
Forbearest thou to see my misery?
Suffer me yet, in hope of some comfort
Fear, and not feel that thou forgettest me.        130
Return, O Lord: O Lord, I thee beseech!
Unto thy old wonted benignity.
Reduce, revive my soul: be thou the leche;
And reconcile the great hatred, and strife,
That it hath ta’en against the flesh; the wretch        135
That stirred hath thy wrath by filthy life.
See how my soul doth fret it to the bones:
Inward remorse, so sharpeth it like a knife,
That but Thou help the caitiff, that bemoans
His great offence, it turneth anon to dust.        140
Here hath thy mercy matter for the nones;
For if thy righteous hand, that is so just,
Suffer no sin, or strike with dampnation,
Thy infinite mercy want nedes it must
Subject matter for his operation:        145
For that in death there is no memory
Among the dampned, nor yet no mention
Of thy great name, ground of all glory.
Then if I die, and go whereas I fear
To think thereon, how shall thy great mercy        150
Sound in my mouth unto the worldes ear?
For there is none, that can Thee laud, and love,
For that thou wilt no love among them there.
Suffer my cries the mercy for to move,
That wonted is a hundred years’ offence        155
In a moment of repentance to remove.
How oft have I called up with diligence
This slothful flesh long afore the day
For to confess his fault, and negligence;
That to the den, for aught that I could say,        160
Hath still returned to shrowd himself from cold?
Whereby it suffereth now for such delay,
By mighty pains, instead of pleasures old.
I wash my bed with tears continual
To dull my sight, that it be never bold        165
To stir my heart again to such a fall.
Thus dry I up, among my foes, in woe,
That with my fall do rise, and grow withal,
And me beset even now where I am, so
With secret traps, to trouble my penance.        170
Some do present to my weeping eyes, lo,
The cheer, the manner, beauty, or countenance
Of her, whose look, alas! did make me blind:
Some other offer to my remembrance
Those pleasant words, now bitter to my mind:        175
And some shew me the power of my armour,
Triumph, and conquest, and to my head assign’d
Double diadem: some shew the favour
Of people frail, palace, pomp, and riches.
To these mermaids, and their baits of error        180
I stop my ears, with help of thy goodness.
And for I feel, it cometh alone of Thee
That to my heart these foes have none access,
I dare them bid, Avoid, wretches, and flee;
The Lord hath heard the voice of my complaint;        185
Your engines take no more effect in me:
The Lord hath heard, I say, and seen me faint
Under your hand, and pitieth my distress.
He shall do make my senses, by constraint,
Obey the rule, that reason shall express:        190
Where the deceit of that your glosing bait
Made them usurp a power in all excess.
Shamed be they all, that so do lie in wait
To compass me, by missing of their prey!
Shame and rebuke redound to such deceit!        195
Sudden confusion, as stroke without delay,
Shall so deface their crafty suggestion,
That they to hurt my health no more assay
Since I, O Lord, remain in thy protection.
The Author

WHOSO hath seen the sick in his fever,
After truce taken with the heat or cold,
And that the fit is past of his fervour,
Draw fainting sighs; let him, I say, behold
Sorrowful David, after his langour,
That with his tears, that from his eyen down roll’d,        205
Paused his plaint, and laid adown his harp,
Faithful record of all his sorrows sharp.
It seemed now that of his fault the horror
Did make afear’d no more his hope of grace;
The threats whereof in horrible terror        210
Did hold his heart as in despair a space,
Till he had will’d to seek for his succour;
Himself accusing, beknowing his case,
Thinking so best his Lord to appease,
And not yet healed he feeleth his disease.        215
Now seemeth fearful no more the dark cave,
That erst did make his soul for to tremble;
A place devout, of refuge for to save
The succourless it rather doth resemble:
For who had seen so kneeling within the grave        220
The chief pastor of the Hebrews’ assemble,
Would judge it made by tears of penitence
A sacred place worthy of reverence.
With vapour’d eyes he looketh here and there,
And when he hath a while himself bethought,        225
Gathering his spirits, that were dismay’d for fear,
His harp again into his hand he raught,
Tuning accord by judgment of his ear,
His heart’s bottom for a sigh he sought;
And therewithal upon the hollow tree        230
With strained voice again thus crieth he.
Beati, quorum remisse sunt Iniquitates 3

OH! happy are they that have forgiveness got
Of their offence, not by their penitence
As by merit, which recompenseth not;
Although that yet pardon hath not offence        235
Without the same; but by the goodness
Of Him that hath perfect intelligence
Of heart contrite, and covereth the greatness
Of sin within a merciful discharge.
And happy are they that have the wilfulness        240
Of lust restrain’d afore it went at large,
Provoked by the dread of God’s furor;
Whereby they have not on their backs the charge
Of others’ faults to suffer the dolor;
For that their fault was never execute        245
In open sight, example of error.
And happy is he to whom God doth impute
No more his fault, by knowledging his sin:
But cleansed now the Lord doth him repute;
As adder fresh new stripped from his skin:        250
Nor in his sprite is aught undiscover’d.
I, for because I hid it still within,
Thinking by state in fault to be preferr’d,
Do find by hiding of my fault my harm;
As he that findeth his health hindered        255
By secret wound concealed from the charm
Of leech’s cure, that else had had redress;
And feel my bones consume, and wax unfirm
By daily rage, roaring in excess.
Thy heavy hand on me was so increased        260
Both day and night, and held my heart in press,
With pricking thoughts bereaving me my rest;
That withered is my lustiness away,
As summer heats that have the green oppress’d.
Wherefore I did another way assay,        265
And sought forthwith to open in thy sight
My fault, my fear, my filthiness, I say,
And not to hide from Thee my great unright.
I shall, quoth I, against myself confess
Unto thee, Lord, all my sinful plight:        270
And thou forthwith didst wash the wickedness
Of mine offence. Of truth right thus it is,
Wherefore they, that have tasted thy goodness,
At me shall take example as of this,
And pray, and seek in time for time of grace.        275
Then shall the storms and floods of harm him miss,
And him to reach shall never have the space.
Thou art my refuge, and only safeguard
From the troubles that compass me the place.
Such joys as he that scapes his enemies ward        280
With loosed bands, hath in his liberty;
Such is my joy, thou hast to me prepared.
That, as the seaman in his jeopardy
By sudden light perceived hath the port;
So by thy great merciful property        285
Within thy book thus read I my comfort:
‘I shall thee teach, and give understanding,
And point to thee what way thou shalt resort
For thy address, to keep thee from wandering:
Mine eyes shall take the charge to be thy guide:        290
I ask thereto of thee only this thing,
Be not like horse, or mule, that, men do ride,
That not alone doth not his master know,
But for the good thou dost him must be tied,
And bridled least his guide he bite or throw.’        295
Oh! diverse are the chastisings of sin
In meat, in drink, in breath, that man doth blow,
In sleep, in watch, in fretting still within:
That never suffer rest unto the mind
Fill’d with offence; that new and new begin        300
With thousand fears the heart to strain and bind:
But for all this, he that in God doth trust
With mercy shall himself defended find.
Joy and rejoice, I say, you that be just
In Him, that maketh and holdeth you so still:        305
In Him your glory always set you must,
All you that be of upright heart and will.
The Author

THIS song ended, David did stint his voice;
And in that while he about with his eye
Did seek the dark cave; with which, withouten noise.        310
His silence seemed to argue, and reply
Upon his peace this peace, that did rejoice
The soul with mercy, that mercy so did call,
And found mercy at plentiful Mercy’s hand,
Never denied, but where it was withstand.        315
As the servant that in his master’s face
Finding pardon of his passed offence,
Considering his great goodness and his grace,
Glad tears distills, as gladsome recompense:
Right so David seemed in the place        320
A marble image of singular reverence,
Carved in the rock, with eyes and hand on high
Made as by craft to plain, to sob, to sigh.
This while a beam that bright sun forth sendeth,
That sun, the which was never cloud could hide,        325
Pierceth the cave, and on the harp descendeth:
Whose glancing light the chords did overglide,
And such lustre upon the harp extendeth,
As light of lamp upon the gold clean tried,
The lome whereof into his eyes did start,        330
Surprised with joy by penance of the heart.
He then inflamed with far more hot affect
Of God, than he was erst of Batsabé,
His left foot did on the earth erect,
And just thereby remaineth the other knee;        335
To the left side his weight he doth direct:
For hope of health his harp again taketh he;
His hand, his tune, his mind eke sought this lay,
Which to the Lord with sober voice did say,
Domine, ne in furore tuo 4

O LORD! as I have thee both pray’d, and pray,
(Although in Thee be no alteration.
But that we men, like as ourselves, we say,
Measuring thy justice by our mutation)
Chastise me not, O Lord! in thy furor,
Nor me correct in wrathful castigation:        345
For that thy arrows of fear, of terror,
Of sword, of sickness, of famine, and of fire,
Stick deep in me: I, lo! from mine error,
Am plunged up; as horse out of the mire
With stroke of spur; such is thy hand on me,        350
That in my flesh, for terror of thy ire,
Is not one point of firm stability;
Nor in my bones there is no steadfastness:
Such is my dread of mutability;
For that I know my frailful wickedness.        355
For why? my sins above my head are bound,
Like heavy weight, that doth my force oppress;
Under the which I stoop and bow to the ground,
As willow plant haled by violence.
And of my flesh each not well cured wound,        360
That fester’d is by folly and negligence,
By secret lust hath rankled under skin,
Not duly cured by my penitence.
Perceiving thus the tyranny of sin,
That with his weight hath humbled and depress’d        365
My pride; by gnawing of the worm within,
That never dieth, I live withouten rest.
So are my entrails infect with fervent sore,
Feeding the harm that hath my wealth oppress’d,
That in my flesh is left no health therefore.        370
So wondrous great hath been my vexation,
That it hath forced my heart to cry and roar.
O Lord! thou knowest the inward contemplation
Of my desire: thou knowest my sighs and plaints
Thou knowest the tears of my lamentation        375
Cannot express my heart’s inward restraints.
My heart panteth, my force I feel it quail;
My sight, my eyes, my look decays and faints.
And when mine enemies did me most assail,
My friends most sure, wherein I set most trust,        380
Mine own virtues, soonest then did fail
And stand apart; reason and wit unjust,
As kin unkind, were farthest gone at need:
So had they place their venom out to thrust,
That sought my death by naughty word and deed.        385
Their tongues reproach, their wit did fraud apply,
And I, like deaf and dumb, forth my way yede,
Like one that hears not, nor hath to reply
One word again; knowing that from thine hand
These things proceed, and thou, Lord, shalt supply        390
My trust in that, wherein I stick and stand.
Yet have I had great cause to dread and fear,
That thou wouldst give my foes the over hand;
For in my fall they shewed such pleasant cheer.
And therewithal I alway in the lash        395
Abide the stroke; and with me every where
I bear my fault, that greatly doth abash
My doleful cheer; for I my fault confess,
And my desert doth all my comfort dash.
In the mean while mine enemies still increase;        400
And my provokers hereby do augment,
That without cause to hurt me do not cease:
In evil for good against me they be bent,
And hinder shall my good pursuit of grace.
Lo! now, my God, that seest my whole intent!        405
My Lord, I am, thou knowest, in what case;
Forsake me not, be not far from me gone.
Haste to my help; haste, Lord, and haste apace,
O Lord, the Lord of all my health alone.
The Author

LIKE as the pilgrim, that in a long way
Fainting for heat, provoked by some wind,
In some fresh shade lieth down at mid of day:
So doth of David the wearied voice and mind
Take breath of sighs, when he had sung this lay,
Under such shade as sorrow hath assign’d:        415
And as the one still minds his voyage end,
So doth the other to mercy still pretend.
On sonour chords his fingers he extends,
Without hearing or judgment of the sound:
Down from his eyes a stream of tears descends,        420
Without feeling, that trickle on the ground.
As he that bleeds in bain right so intends
The alter’d senses to that that they are bound.
But sigh and weep he can none other thing,
And look up still unto the heavens’ King.        425
But who had been without the cave’s mouth
And heard the tears and sighs that him did strain,
He would have sworn there had out of the south
A lukewarm wind brought forth a smoky rain.
But that so close the cave was and uncouth        430
That none but God was record of his pain,
Else had the wind blown in all Israel’s ears
Of their King the woful plaint and tears.
Of which some part when he up supped had,
Like as he, whom his own thought affrays,        435
He turns his look; him seemeth that the shade
Of his offence again his force assays
By violent despair on him to lade;
Starting like him, whom sudden fear dismays,
His voice he strains, and from his heart out brings        440
This song, that I note 5 whether he cries or sings.
Miserere mei, Deus 6

RUE on me, Lord, for thy goodness and grace,
That of thy nature art so bountiful;
For that goodness that in the world doth brace
Repugnant natures in quiet wonderful;        445
And for thy mercies number without end
In heaven and earth perceived so plentiful,
That over all they do themselves extend,
For those mercies much more than man can sin,
Do away my sins, that so thy grace offend        450
Ofttimes again. Wash, wash me well within,
And from my sin, that thus makes me afraid,
Make thou me clean, as aye thy wont hath been.
For unto Thee no number can be laid
For to prescribe remissions of offence        455
In hearts returned, as thou thyself hast said;
And I beknow my fault, my negligence:
And in my sight my sin is fixed fast,
Thereof to have more perfect penitence.
To Thee alone, to Thee have I trespass’d;        460
For none can measure my fault but thou alone:
For in thy sight, I have not been aghast
For to offend; judging thy sight as none,
So that my fault were hid from sight of man;
Thy majesty so from my mind was gone.        465
This know I, and repent; pardon Thou then;
Whereby Thou shall keep still thy word stable,
Thy justice pure and clean, because that when
I pardoned am, that forthwith justly able
Just I am judged by justice of thy grace.        470
For I myself, lo! thing most unstable.
Formed in offence, conceived in like case,
Am nought but sin from my nativity.
Be not these said for mine excuse, alas!
But of thy help to shew necessity:        475
For, lo! Thou lovest truth of the inward heart,
Which yet doth live in my fidelity,
Though I have fallen by failty overthwart:
For wilful malice led me not the way
So much as hath the flesh drawn me apart.        480
Wherefore, O Lord, as thou hast done alway,
Teach me the hidden wisdom of thy lore;
Since that my faith doth not yet decay.
And, as the Jews do heal the leper sore,
With hissop cleanse, cleanse me and I am clean.        485
Thou shalt me wash, and more than snow therefore
I shall be white, how foul my fault hath been.
Thou of my health shalt gladsome tidings bring,
When from above remission shall be seen
Descend on earth; then shall for joy up spring        490
The bones, that were before consumed to dust.
Look not, O Lord! upon mine offending,
But do away my deeds that are unjust.
Make a clean heart in the middle of my breast
With spirit upright voided from filthy lust.        495
From thine eyes cure cast me not in unrest,
Nor take from me thy Spirit of Holiness.
Render to me joy of thy help and rest:
My will confirm with the Spirit of Steadfastness;
And by this shall these godly things ensue,        500
Sinners I shall into thy ways address:
They shall return to Thee, and thy grace sue.
My tongue shall praise thy justification;
My mouth shall spread thy glorious praises true.
But of thyself, O God, this operation        505
It must proceed; by purging me from blood,
Among the just that I may have relation:
And of thy lauds for to let out the flood,
Thou must, O Lord, my lips first unloose.
For if thou hadst esteemed pleasant good        510
The outward deeds, that outward men disclose,
I would have offer’d unto Thee sacrifice:
But thou delightest not in no such glose
Of outward deed, as men dream and devise.
The sacrifice that the Lord liketh most        515
Is spirit contrite: low heart in humble wise
Thou dost accept, O God, for pleasant host.
Make Sion, Lord, according to thy will
Inward Sion, the Sion of the ghost:
Of heart’s Jerusalem strength the walls still:        520
Then shalt Thou take for good the outward deeds,
As a sacrifice thy pleasure to fulfill.
Of Thee alone thus all our good proceeds.
The Author

OF deep secrets, that David there did sing,
Of Mercy, of Faith, of Frailty, of Grace;        525
Of God’s goodness, and of Justifying
The greatness did so astonny himself apace,
As who might say, Who hath expressed this thing?
I sinner, I, what have I said? alas!
That God’s goodness would in my song entreat,        530
Let me again consider and repeat.
And so he doth, but not expressed by word;
But in his heart he turneth oft and paiseth
Each word, that erst his lips might forth afford:
He pants, he pauseth, he wonders, he praiseth        535
The Mercy, that hideth of Justice the sword:
The Justice that so his promise complisheth
For his word’s sake to worthiless desert,
That gratis his grace to men doth depart.
Here hath he comfort when he doth measure        540
Measureless mercy to measureless fault,
To prodigal sinners infinite treasure,
Treasure celestial, that never shall default:
Yea, when that sin shall fail, and may not dure,
Mercy shall reign, against whom shall no assault        545
Of hell prevail: by whom, lo! at this day
Of Heaven gates Remission is the key.
And when David had pondered well and tried,
And seeth himself not utterly deprived
From light of Grace, that dark of sin did hide,        550
He findeth his hope much therewith revived;
He dare importune the Lord on every side,
For he knoweth well that to Mercy is ascribed
Respectless labour, importune, cry, and call;
And thus beginneth his song therewithal:        555
Domine, exaudi Orationem meam 7

LORD, hear my prayer, and let my cry pass
Unto thee, Lord, without impediment.
Do not from me, turn thy merciful face,
Unto myself leaving my government.
In time of trouble and adversity        560
Incline unto me thine ear and thine intent.
And when I call, help my necessity;
Readily grant the effect of my desire:
These bold demands do please thy Majesty:
And eke my case such haste doth well require.        565
For like as smoke my days are past away,
My bones dried up, as furnace with the fire;
My heart, my mind is wither’d up like hay;
Because I have forgot to take my bread,
My bread of life, the word of Truth, I say.        570
And for my plaintful sighs and for my dread,
My bones, my strength, my very force of mind
Cleaved to the flesh, and from the spirit were fled,
As desperate thy mercy for to find.
So made I me the solen pelican,        575
And like the owl, that flieth by proper kind
Light of the day, and hath herself beta’en
To ruin life out of all company,
With waker care, that with this woe began,
Like the sparrow was I solitary,        580
That sits alone under the houses’ eaves.
This while my foes conspired continually,
And did provoke the harm of my disease.
Wherefore like ashes my bread did me savour;
Of thy just word the taste might not me please:        585
Wherefore my drink I temper’d with liquor
Of weeping tears, that from mine eyes did rain,
Because I know the wrath of thy furor,
Provoked by right, had of my pride disdain.
For thou didst lift me up to throw me down;        590
To teach me how to know myself again:
Whereby I knew that helpless I should drown.
My days like shadow decline, and I do cry:
And Thee for ever eternity doth crown;
World without end doth last thy memory.        595
For this frailty, that yoketh all mankind,
Thou shalt awake, and rue this misery:
Rue on Sion, Sion that as I find
Is the people that live under thy law.
For now is time, the time at hand assign’d,        600
The time so long that thy servants draw
In great desire to see that pleasant day;
Day of redeeming Sion from sin’s awe.
For they have ruth to see in such decay
In dust and stones this wretched Sion lower.        605
Then the Gentiles shall dread thy name alway;
All earthly kings thy glory shall honour,
Then, when thy grace thy Sion thus redeemeth,
When thus Thou hast declared thy mighty power.
The lord his servants wishes so esteemeth        610
That He him turneth unto the poor’s request.
To our descent this to be written seemeth,
Of all comforts as consolation best:
And they, that then shall be regenerate,
Shall praise the Lord therefore, both most and least.        615
For He hath look’d from the height of his estate,
The Lord from heaven in earth hath look’d on us,
To hear the moan of them that are algate
In foul bondage; to loose, and to discuss
The sons of death out from their deadly bond;        620
To give thereby occasion glorious
In this Sion his holy name to stand;
And in Jerusalem his lauds, lasting aye,
When in one Church the people of the land
And realms been gather’d to serve, to laud, to pray        625
The Lord above, so just and merciful.
But to this samble 8 running in the way,
My strength faileth to reach it at the full.
He hath abridged my days, they may not dure
To see that term, that term so wonderful:        630
Although I have with hearty will, and cure,
Pray’d to the Lord, take me not, Lord, away
In midst of my years: though thine ever sure
Remain eterne, whom time cannot decay.
Thou wrought’st the earth, thy hands the heavens did make:        635
They shall perish, and thou shalt last alway;
And all things age shall wear, and overtake,
Like cloth, and Thou shalt change them like apparel
Turn, and translate, and thou in worth it take;
But Thou thyself thyself remainest well        640
That Thou wast erst, and shalt thy years extend.
Then, since to this there may no thing rebel,
The greatest comfort that I can pretend,
Is that the children of thy servants dear,
That in thy word are got, shall without end        645
Before thy face be stablish’d all in fear.
The Author

WHEN David had perceived in his breast
The Spirit of God return, that was exiled;
Because he knew he hath alone express’d
These same great things, that greater Spirit compiled;        650
As shawm or pipe lets out the sound impress’d,
By music’s art forged tofore and filed;
I say when David had perceived this,
The spirit of comfort in him revived is.
For thereupon he maketh argument        655
Of reconciling unto the Lord’s grace;
Although sometime to prophesy have lent
Both brute beasts, and wicked hearts a place.
But our David judgeth in his intent
Himself by penance, clean out of this case,        660
Whereby he hath remission of offence,
And ginneth to allow his pain and penitence.
But when he weigheth the fault, and recompense,
He damneth this his deed and findeth plain
Atween them two no whit equivalence;        665
Whereby he takes all outward deed in vain
To bear the name of rightful penitence;
Which is alone the heart returned again,
And sore contrite, that doth his fault bemoan;
And outward deed the sign or fruit alone.        670
With this he doth defend the sly assault
Of vain allowance of his own desert;
And all the glory of his forgiven fault
To God alone he doth it whole convert;
His own merit he findeth in default:        675
And whilst he pondereth these things in his heart,
His knee his arm, his hand sustained his chin,
When he his song again thus did begin.
De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine 9

FROM depth of sin, and from a deep despair,
From depth of death, from depth of heart’s sorrow,        680
From this deep cave, of darkness deep repair,
Thee have I called, O Lord, to be my borrow.
Thou in my voice, O Lord, perceive and hear
My heart, my hope, my plaint, my overthrow,
My will to rise: and let by grant appear,        685
That to my voice thine ears do well attend;
No place so far, that to Thee is not near;
No depth so deep, that thou ne mayst extend
Thine ear thereto; hear then my woful plaint:
For, Lord, if thou observe what men offend,        690
And put thy native mercy in restraint;
If just exaction demand recompense;
Who may endure, O Lord? who shall not faint
At such accompt? so dread, not reverence
Should reign at large. But thou seekest rather love        695
For in thy hand is Mercy’s residence;
By hope whereof Thou dost our hearts eke move.
I in the Lord have set my confidence:
My soul such trust doth evermore approve:
Thy holy word of eterne excellence,        700
Thy mercy’s promise, that is alway just,
Have been my stay, my pillar, and defence.
My soul in God hath more desirous trust,
Than hath the watchman looking for the day,
For his relief, to quench of sleep the thrust.        705
Let Israel trust unto the Lord alway;
For grace and favour are his property:
Plenteous ransom shall come with him, I say,
And shall redeem all our iniquity.
The Author

THIS word Redeem, that in his mouth did sound,
Did put David, it seemeth unto me,
As in a trance, to stare upon the ground,
And with his thought the height of heaven to see:
Where he beholds the Word that should confound
The word of death, by humility to be        715
In mortal maid, in mortal habit made,
Eternity in mortal vail to shade.
He seeth that Word, when full ripe time should come,
Do away that vail by fervent affection,
Torn of with death, for Death should have her doom,        720
And leapeth lighter from such corruption:
The glute of light, that in the air doth lome,
Man redeemeth, death hath her destruction:
That mortal vail hath immortality;
To David assurance of his iniquity.        725
Whereby he frames this reason in his heart,
That goodness, which doth not forbear his son
From death for me, and can thereby convert
My death to life, my sin to salvation,
Both can and will a smaller grace depart        730
To him, that sueth by humble supplication:
And since I have his larger grace assay’d,
To ask this thing why am I then afraid?
He granteth most to them that most do crave,
And He delights in suit without respect.        735
Alas, my son pursues me to the grave,
Suffered by God my sin for to correct.
But of my sin, since I may pardon have,
My son’s pursuit shall shortly be reject;
Then will I crave with sured confidence.        740
And thus beginneth the suit of his pretence.
Domine, exaudi Orationem meam 10

HEAR my prayer, O Lord; hear my request;
Complish my boon; answer to my desire;
Not by desert, but for thine own behest;
In whose firm truth Thou promised mine empire        745
To stand stable: and after thy justice,
Perform, O Lord, that thing that I require.
But not of Law after the form and guise
To enter judgment with thy thrall bondslave,
To plead his right; for in such manner wise        750
Before thy sight no man his right shall save.
For of myself, lo! this my righteousness
By scourge, and whip, and pricking spurs, I have
Scant risen up, such is my beastliness:
For that mine enemy hath pursued my life,        755
And in the dust hath soiled my lustiness;
To foreign realms, to flee his rage so rife,
He hath me forced; as dead to hide my head.
And for because, within myself at strife,
My heart, and spirit, with all my force, were fled,        760
I had recourse to times that have been past,
And did remember thy deeds in all my dread,
And did peruse thy works that ever last;
Whereby I know above these wonders all
Thy mercies were: then lift I up in haste        765
My hands to Thee; my soul to Thee did call,
Like barren soil, for moisture of thy grace.
Haste to my help, O Lord, afore I fall;
For sure I feel my spirit doth faint apace.
Turn not thy face from me that I be laid        770
In count of them that headlong down do pass
Into the pit: Shew me betimes thine aid,
For on thy grace I wholly do depend:
And in thy hand since all my health is staid,
Do me to know what way, thou wilt, I bend;        775
For unto thee I have raised up my mind.
Rid me, O Lord, from them that do entend
My foes to be; for I have me assigned
Alway within thy secret protection.
Teach me thy will, that I by thee may find        780
The way to work the same in affection:
For thou, my God, thy blessed Spirit upright
In laud of truth shall be my direction.
Thou, for thy name, Lord, shalt revive my sprite
Within the right, that I receive by Thee:        785
Whereby my life of danger shall be quite.
Thou hast fordone the great iniquity,
That vex’d my soul: Thou shalt also confound
My foes, O Lord, for thy benignity;
For thine am I, thy servant aye most bound.        790
Noli emulari in maligna 11

ALTHO’ thou see th’ outrageous climb aloft,
Envy not thou his blind prosperity.
The wealth of wretches, tho’ it seemeth soft,
Move not thy heart by their felicity.
They shall be found like grass, turn’d into hay,        795
And as the herbs that wither suddenly.
Stablish thy trust in God: seek right alway,
And on the earth thou shalt inhabit long.
Feed, and increase such hope from day to day;
And if with God thou time thy hearty song,        800
He shall thee give what so thy heart can lust.
Cast upon God thy will, that rights thy wrong;
Give him the charge, for He upright and just
Hath cure of thee, and eke, of thy cares all;
And He shall make thy truth to be discust.        805
Bright as the sun, and thy rightwiseness shall
(The cursed wealth, though now do it deface)
Shine like the daylight that we the noon call.
Patiently abide the Lord’s assured grace:
Bear with even mind the trouble that he sends:        810
Dismay thee not, though thou see the purchase
Increase of some; for such like luck God sends
To wicked folk.
Restrain thy mind from wrath that aye offends.
Do way all rage, and see thou do eschew        815
By their like deed such deeds for to commit;
For wicked folk their overthrow shall rue.
Who patiently abides, and do not flit
They shall possede the world from heir to heir;
The wicked shall of all his wealth be quit        820
So suddenly, and that without repair,
That all his pomp, and all his strange array
Shall from thine eye depart, as blast of air,
The sober then the world shall wield I say,
And live in wealth and peace so plentiful.        825
Him to destroy the wicked shall assay,
And gnash his teeth eke with groaning ireful;
The Lord shall scorn the threatenings of the wretch.
For he doth know the tide is nigh at full
When he shall sink, and no hand shall him seech.        830
They have unsheathed eke their bloody bronds,
And bent their bow to prove if they might reach
To overthrow the  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
Bare of relief the harmless to devour.
The sword shall pierce the heart of such that fonds:        835
Their bow shall break in their most endeavour.
A little living gotten rightfully
Passeth the riches, and eke the high power
Of that, that wretches have gather’d wickedly.
Perish shall the wicked’s posterity,        840
And God shall ’stablish the just assuredly.
The just man’s days the Lord doth know, and see!
Their heritage shall last for evermore,
And of their hope beguil’d they shall not be,
When dismold days shall wrap the other sore.        845
They shall be full when other faint for food,
Therewhilst shall fail these wicked men therefore.
To God’s enemies such end shall be allow’d,
As hath lamb’s grease wasting in the fire,
That is consum’d into a smoky cloud.        850
Borroweth th’ unjust without will or desire
To yield again; the just freely doth give,
Where he seeth need: as mercy doth require.
Who will’th him well for right therefore shall leve;
Who banish him shall be rooted away.        855
His steps shall God direct still and relieve,
And please him shall what life him lust essay;
And though he fall under foot, lie shall not he,
Catching his hand for God shall straight him stay
  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
Nor yet his seed foodless seen for to be.        860
The just to all men merciful hath been;
Busy to do well, therefore his seed, I say,
Shall have abundance alway fresh and green.
Flee ill; do good; that thou may’st last alway,
For God doth love for evermore the upright.        865
Never his chosen doth he cast away;
For ever he them mindeth day and night;
And wicked seed alway shall waste to nought,
The just shall wield the world as their own right,
And long thereon shall dwell, as they have wrought.        870
With wisdom shall the wise man’s mouth him able;
His tongue shall speak alway even as it ought.
With God’s learning he hath his heart stable,
His foot therefore from sliding shall be sure!
The wicked watcheth the just for to disable,        875
And for to slay him doth his busy cure.
But God will not suffer him for to quail;
By tyranny, nor yet by fault unpure,
To be condemn’d in judgment without fail.
Await therefore the coming of the Lord!        880
Live with his laws in patience to prevail,
And He shall raise thee of thine own accord
Above the earth, in surety to behold
The wicked’s death, that thou may it record,
I have well seen the wicked sheen like gold:        885
Lusty and green as laurel lasting aye,
But even anon and scant his seat was cold
When I have pass’d again the selfsame way;
Where he did reign, he was not to be found:
Vanish’d he was for all his fresh array.        890
Let uprightness be still thy steadfast ground.
Follow the right; such one shall alway find
Himself in peace and plenty to abound.
All wicked folk reversed shall untwind,
And wretchedness shall be the wicked’s end.        895
Health to the just from God shall be assign’d,
He shall them strength whom trouble should offend
The Lord shall help I say, and them deliver
From cursed hands, and health unto them send,
For that in Him they set their trust for ever.        900
Note 1. Psalm vi. [back]
Note 2. sick. [back]
Note 3. Psalm xxxii [back]
Note 4. Psalm xxxviii [back]
Note 5. i. e., ne wote, know not. [back]
Note 6. Psalm li. [back]
Note 7. Psalm cii. [back]
Note 8. assembly. [back]
Note 9. Psalm cxxx. [back]
Note 10. Psalm cxliii. [back]
Note 11. Psalm xxxvii. [back]

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.