Psalm Poetry

POETRY: Meditation Seven by Edward Taylor

October 17, 2017

My  heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever. (Psalm 45:1-2) Thy human frame, my glorious Lord, I spy. A golden still with Heavenly choice drugs filled Thy holy love, the glowing heat whereby The spirit of grace is graciously distilled. Thy mouth the neck through which these spirits still; My soul thy vial make, and therewith fill. Thy speech the liquor in thy vessel stands, Well tinged with grace, a blessed tincture, lo, Thy words distilled grace in thy lips poured, and Give graces tincture in them where they go. Thy words in graces [...]

POETRY: In Tenebris II by Thomas Hardy

October 10, 2017

Considerabam ad dexteram, et videbam; et non erat qui cognosceret me.  Non est qui requirat animam meam. [I looked also upon my right hand, and saw there was no man that would know me; no man cared for my soul.] (Psalm 142:5) When the clouds’ swoln bosoms echo back the shouts of the many and strong That things are all as they best may be, save a few to be right ere long, And my eyes have not the vision in them to discern what to these is so clear, The blot seems straightway in me alone; one better he were not here. The stout upstanders say, All’s well with us: ruers have nought to rue! And what the potent say so oft, can it fail to be somewhat true? Breezily go they, breezily come; their dust smokes around their career, Till I [...]

POETRY: Along The Banks by Joel Barlow

October 3, 2017

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.  We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.  For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.  How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?  If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.  If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.  Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.  O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, [...]

POETRY: Laudate Dominum by Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke

September 26, 2017

O praise the Lord, all ye nation: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord. (Psalm 117:1–2) Praise him that aye Remains the same: All tongues display Iehavoa’s fame. Sing all that share This Earthly ball: His mercies are Exposed to all: Like as the word Once he doth give, Rolled in record, Doth time [...]

POETRY: Praise Ye The Lord, O Celebrate His Fame by Peleg Folger

September 19, 2017

O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the Earth is full of thy riches.  So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.  There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein. These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.  That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.  Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.  Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the Earth.  The glory of the Lord shall endure forever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works. [...]

POETRY: Lord, Hear My Prayer by John Clare

September 12, 2017

Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee.  Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily.  For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth.  My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread.  By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin.  I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.  I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.  Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me.  For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping.  Because of thine indignation and thy [...]

POETRY: Te Deum by Charles Reznikoff

August 29, 2017

O sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvelous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory. (Psalm 98:1) Not because of victories I sing, Having none, but for the common sunshine, the breeze, the largess of the spring. Not for victory but for the day’s work done as well as I was able; not for a seat upon the dais but at the common [...]

POETRY: Lord I Sleep And I Sleep by David Shapiro

August 22, 2017

Thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey. The stouthearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep: and none of the men of might have found their hands. At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep. Thou, even thou, art to be feared: and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry? Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from Heaven; the Earth feared, and was still, when God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the Earth. Selah. (Psalm 76:4-9) Lord I sleep and I sleep I am haunted all night by the look of cars When I sleep they can speak, they say: Ride me, David. I am fast as death Well who lighted this road up? Who made me this clear? You know I am soft as plasma [...]

POETRY: Complaining by George Herbert

August 15, 2017

But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied. They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is. Forsake me not, O Lord: O my God, be not far from me. Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation. (Psalm 38:19-22) Do not beguile my heart, Because thou art My power and wisdom. Put me not to shame, Because I am Thy clay that weeps, thy dust that calls. Thou art the Lord of glory: The deed and story Are both thy due: but I a silly fly That live or die According as the weather falls. Art thou all justice, Lord? Shows not thy word More attributes? Am I all throat or eye, To weep or cry? Have I no parts but those of grief? Let not thy wrathful [...]

POETRY: Psalm 23 by Richard Crashaw

August 8, 2017

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 [...]

POETRY: Flying Fowl, And Creeping Things, Praise Ye The Lord by Isaac Watts

August 1, 2017

Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl. (Psalm 148:9-10) Sweet flocks, whose soft enamel’s wing Swift and gently cleaves the sky; Whose charming notes address the spring With an artless harmony. Lovely minstrels of the field, Who in leafy shadows sit, And your wondrous structures build, Awake your tuneful voices with the dawning light; To nature’s God your first devotions pay, E’er you salute the rising day, ‘Tis he calls up the sun, and gives him every ray. Serpents who o’er the meadows slide, And wear upon your shining back Numerous ranks of gaudy pride, Which thousand mingling colors make Let the fierce glances of your eyes Rebate [...]

POETRY: Hexameters by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

July 25, 2017

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the Earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the Earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the Earth. He [...]

POETRY: Cognitabo Pro Peccato Meo by William Habington

July 18, 2017

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 [...]

POETRY: Psalm III by Allen Ginsberg

July 11, 2017

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1) To God: to illuminate all men. Beginning with Skid Road. Let Occidental and Washington be transformed into a higher place, the plaza of eternity. Illuminate the welders in shipyards with the brilliance of their torches. Let the crane operator lift up his arm for joy. Let elevators creak and speak, ascending and descending in awe. Let the mercy of the flower’s direction beckon in the eye. Let the straight flower bespeak its purpose in straightness—to seek the light. Let the crooked flower bespeak its purpose in crookedness—to seek the light. Let the crookedness and straightness bespeak the light. [...]

POETRY: Psalm XXIII by P. Hately Waddell

July 4, 2017

The sheep-keepin o’ the Lord’s kind an’ canny, wi’ a braw howff at lang last: David keeps his sheep; the Lord keeps David. An heigh-lilt o’ David’s. The Lord is my herd, nae want sal fa’ me: He luts me till lie amang green howes; he airts me atowre by the lown watirs: He waukens my wa’-gen saul; he weises me roun, for his ain name’s sake, intil right roddins. Na!, tho’ I gang thro’ the dead-mirk-dail; e’en thar, sal I dread ane skaithin: for yersel are nar-by me; yer stok an’ yer stay haud me baith fu’ cheerie. My buird ye hae hansell’d in face o’ my faes; ye hae drookit my head wi’ oyle; my biker is fu’ an’ skailin. E’en [...]

POETRY: O Taste And See by Denise Levertov

June 27, 2017

O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. (Psalm 34:8) The world is not with us enough. O taste and see the subway Bible poster said, meaning The Lord, meaning if anything all that lives to the imagination’s tongue, grief, mercy, language, tangerine, weather, to breathe them, bite savor, chew, swallow, transform into our flesh our deaths, crossing the street, plum, quince, living in the orchard and being hungry, and plucking the [...]

POETRY: Rochester Extempore by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

June 20, 2017

Help, Lord; for the Godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.  They speak vanity every one with his neighbor: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.  The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things:  Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?  For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.  The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of Earth, purified seven times.  Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever.  The wicked walk on [...]

POETRY: A Romance On The Psalm “By The Waters Of Babylon” by John Of The Cross

June 13, 2017

(Psalm 137) By the rivers of Babylon I sat down weeping, there on the ground. And remembering you, O Zion, whom I loved, in that sweet memory I wept even more. I took off my feastday clothes and put on my working ones; I hung on the green willows all the joy I had in song, putting it aside for that which I hoped for in you. There love wounded me and took away my heart. I begged love to kill me since it had so wounded me; I threw myself in its fire knowing it burned, excusing now the young bird that would die in the fire. I was dying in myself, breathing in you alone. I died within myself for you and for you I revived, because the memory of you gave life and took it away. The strangers among whom I was captive rejoiced; they asked me to [...]

POETRY: Blessed Is The Man, by Marianne Moore

June 6, 2017

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2) who does not sit in the seat of the scoffer— the man who does not denigrate, depreciate, denunciate; who is not “characteristically intemperate,” who does not “excuse, retreat, equivocate; and will be heard.” (Ah, Giorgione! there are those who mongrelize and those who heighten anything they touch; although it may well be that if Giorgione’s self-portrait were not said to be he, it might not take my fancy. Blessed the geniuses who know that egomania is not a [...]

POETRY: Stanzas On The Psalms, by Thomas Warton the Elder

May 24, 2017

Not the songs that nobly tell, How Troy was sacked, and Rome began, Not the numbers that reveal The wars of Heaven to falling man; Can boast that true celestial fire, That equal strength and ease, Or with such various charms conspire, To move, to teach, to please. Those complaints how sadly sweet, White weeping seraphim repeat; Those prayers how happily preferred, Which God himself inspired and heard. Ye partial wits no longer boast Of Pindar’s fire in David’s lost! Who to the Hebrew harp must yield, As Jove by great Jehovah is [...]

POETRY: Psalm 103—Praise The Lord, O My Soul, by Henry Francis Lyte

May 9, 2017

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven; To His feet thy tribute bring. Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, Who like thee His praise should sing. Praise Him! Praise Him! Praise the everlasting King. Praise Him for His grace and favour To our fathers in distress. Praise Him still the same for ever, Slow to chide, and swift to bless. Praise Him! Praise Him! Glorious in His faithfulness. Father-like He tends and spares us; Well our feeble frame He knows. In His hands He gently bears us, Rescues us from all our foes. Praise Him! Praise Him! Widely as His mercy flows. Frail as summer’s flower we flourish, Blows the wind and it is gone; But while mortals rise and perish God endures unchanging on, Praise Him, praise Him, Praise Him! Praise [...]

POETRY: (from) Psalm 86, by John Milton

June 29, 2016

Thy gracious ear, O Lord, incline, O hear me I thee pray, For I am poor, and almost pine With need, and sad decay. Preserve my soul, for I have trod Thy ways, and love the just; Save thou thy servant O my God Who still in thee doth trust. Pity me Lord for daily thee I call; O make rejoice Thy servant’s soul; for Lord to thee I lift my soul and voice; For thou art good, thou Lord art prone To pardon, thou to all Art full of mercy, thou alone To them that on thee call. Unto my supplication Lord Give ear, and to the cry Of my incessant prayers afford Thy hearing graciously. I in the day of my distress Will call on thee for aid; For thou wilt grant me free access And answer, what I prayed. Like thee among the gods is none O Lord, nor any [...]

POETRY: Psalm 1— The Two Ways, by Sylvia Purdie

June 16, 2016

I was out walking a farm track one late summer’s day long since the rain had fallen long since, grass had faded to gold I passed a field of crops as the dry wind whipped the struggling plants tossing away earth as dust the plants collapsed and withered I walked on as the path went down winding through willow trees roots deep in search of water Hidden at the bottom of the gully under a small strip of green I found a flowing stream and as I followed it there were fruit trees sheltered from the wind drawing on the water apples hanging bright and full crisp and tangy sweet I live that my life may be surrounded by love inspired by truth sustained by Spirit bearing fruit season by season What does it take? What choices must I make? What advice [...]

POETRY: Idiot Psalm 10, by Scott Cairns

June 15, 2016

—a psalm of Isaak, breathed beneath the chirp of evening swallows O Hidden Hand upholding all wrought works now flourishing before us, O Mad Architect of exuberant abundance, of flora both sweet and acrid, and lo, of all furred fauna frolicking the field, both the mild and the less so, baring tooth and claw and, lo, so often leaving in their wake so many tufts of plumage, tattered fur. O Great Zookeeper attending all such critters in Your ken, both microscopic and immense, the countless little fishes, our dear array of water mammals, yea, and this our great and lumbering leviathan fathoms deep, invisible. O Most Secret Agent of our numberless occasions, please also mitigate the ache attending all of the above. [...]

POETRY: Lament Psalm Sixteen, by Ann Weems

July 1, 2015

O God, will this night never end? Give me sleep, O God! Give me rest! Erase from my memory the moments of his death. Blot out the terror and the ever-present fear and let me sleep. I lie upon this bed tortured by thoughts that come unbidden. The night is full of demons. They stand upon my heart until I cannot breathe. There is nothing in my world this night except his death. O God, bring the morning light. Is it not enough that he is dead? That there is nothing I can do to change what is? Must I spend each night revisiting the unlit corridors of death? O God, be merciful! Bring the dawn! Come into this night and tear it into day! O my God, you are hope. You take the bonds of death and break them into pieces of life. The demons of the night [...]

POETRY: Seven Penitential Psalms, by V. Penelope Pelizzon

March 27, 2013

1 Pain’s first casualty is proportion. So my brother, juror in a child pornography trial, Browses my shelves while the Easter lamb roasts And, coming on Weston’s nudes of his son Paired with a text describing how Neil at eight Is “moulded with reedlike flow of unbroken line” — The exposures framed so the torso, Pentelic marble, Ends with arm buds and the stem of the penis — Slams the book and storms out, Shaken that I own such things. 2 The damaged man licking sauce from his spoon — Why do I feel stricken sitting in the same café, Watching his unbridled relish in the mess? He’s showing me a secret I don’t want to see. The toughest shell conceals the tenderest meat. My friend rejects aids to help [...]

POETRY: A Psalm, by Thomas Merton

August 10, 2012

When psalms surprise me with their music And antiphons turn to rum The Spirit sings: the bottom drops out of my soul And from the center of my cellar, Love, louder than thunder Opens a heaven of naked air. New eyes awaken. I send Love’s name into the world with wings And songs grow up around me like a jungle. Choirs of all creatures sing the tunes Your Spirit played in Eden. Zebras and antelopes and birds of paradise Shine on the face of the abyss And I am drunk with the great wilderness Of the sixth day in Genesis. But sound is never half so fair As when that music turns to air And the universe dies of excellence. Sun, moon and stars Fall from their heavenly towers. Joys walk no longer down the blue world’s shore. Though fires [...]

POETRY: Two Takes On The Psalms — Poems by Cliff Ashby and Scott Cairns

July 11, 2012

Latter Day Psalms 1 Somewhere there is Grace, Lord, Was I not told it as a child When the sound of the sparrow Filled my heart with delight And the rain fell like friendship on my head. Now the call of the cuckoo Cannot calm my aching heart And my soul is tormented with fear. Have mercy, Lord, for I have travelled far Yet all my knowledge is as nothing. My days are numbered. Time titters As I stumble down the street. Forgiveness, O forgive me, Lord, Close my critical eye Take me to your breast For how else may I die. 2 The tree waves in the wind But does not break unless The bough is over-burdened. When spring disrupts the dead days Buds, leaves, and birds praise God In song and silent sound. The dead dock, stiff With last year’s pride, [...]