Psalm Poetry

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, [...]