POETRY: Psalm 23 by Richard Crashaw

Psalm 23 by Richard Crashaw

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23)

Happy me! O happy sheep!
Whom my God, even he it is,
That points me to these ways of bliss;
On whose pastures cheerful spring,
All the year doth sit and sing,
And rejoicing smiles to see
Their green backs were his livery:
Pleasure sings my soul to rest,
Plenty wears me at her breast,
Whose sweet temper teaches me
Nor wanton, nor in want to be.
At my feet the blubbering mountain
Weeping, melts into a fountain,
Whose soft silver-sweating streams
Make high noon forget his beams:
When my wayward breath is flying,
He calls home my soul from dying,
Strokes and tames my rabid grief,
And does woo me into life:
When my simple weakness strays,
(Tangled in forbidden ways)
He (my Shepherd) is my guide,
He’s before me, on my side,
And behind me, he beguiles
Craft in all her knotty wiles;
He expounds the giddy wonder
Of my weary steps, and under
Spreads a path clear as the day,
Where no churlish rub says nay
To my joy-conducted feet,
Whilst they gladly go to meet
Grace and peace, to meet new lays
Tuned to my great Shepherd’s praise.
Come now all ye terrors, sally
Muster forth into the valley,
Where triumphant darkness hovers
With a sable wing, that covers
Brooking horror. Come thou Death,
Let the damps of thy dull breath
Overshadow even the shade,
And make darkness self afraid;
There my feet, even there shall find
Way for a resolved mind.
Still my Shepherd, still my God,
Thou art with me, still thy rod,
And thy staff, whose influence
Gives direction, gives defense.
At the whisper of thy Word
Crowned abundance spreads my board:
While I feast, my foes do feed
Their rank malice not their need,
So that with the self-same bread
They are starved, and I am fed.
How my head in ointment swims!
How my cup o’erlooks her brims!
So, even so still may I move
By the line of thy dear love;
Still may thy sweet mercy spread
A shady arm above my head,
About my paths, so shall I find
The fair center of my mind
Thy temple, and those lovely walls
Bright ever with a beam that falls
Fresh from the pure glance of thine eye,
Lighting to Eternity.
There I’ll dwell forever, there
Will I find a purer air
To feed my life with, there I’ll sup
Balm and nectar in my cup,
And there my ripe soul will I breathe
Warm into the arms of Death.

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