POETRY: Cognitabo Pro Peccato Meo by William Habington

Cognitabo Pro Peccato Meo by William Habington

O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.  For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me. My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off. They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long. But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth. Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs. For in thee, O Lord, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God. For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me. For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. (Psalm 38:1-18)

In what dark silent grove
Profaned by no unholy love,
Where witty melancholy ne’er
Did carve the trees or wound the air,
Shall I religious leisure win
To weep away my sin?

How fondly have I spent
My youth’s unvalued treasure, lent
To traffic for celestial joys?
My unripe years pursuing toys;
Judging things best that were most gay
Fled unobserved away.

Grown elder I admired
Our poets as from Heaven inspired.
What obelisks decreed I fit
For Spenser’s Art, and Sydney’s wit?
But waxing sober soon I found
Fame but an idle sound.

Then I my blood obeyed
And each bright face an idol made:
Verse in an humble sacrifice,
I offered to my mistress’s eyes.
But I no sooner grace did win
But met the devil within.

But grown more politic
I took account of each state trick:
Observed each motion, judged him wise,
Who had a conscience fit to rise.
Whom soon I found but form and rule
And the more serious fool.

But now my soul prepare
To ponder what and where we are:
How frail is life, how vain a breath
Opinion, how uncertain death:
How only a poor stone shall bear
Witness that once we were.

How a shrill trumpet shall
Us to the bar as traitors call.
Then shall we see too late that pride
Hath hope with flattery belied
And that the mighty in command
Pale cowards there must stand.

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