Wednesday, June 06, 2012

to headlong him their thoughtes devise

Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke, and her estate, the Wilton House
P S A L M   6 2   Nonne Deo

Yet shall my soule in silence still
   On God, my help, attentive stay:
Yet he my fort, my health, my hill,
   Remove I may not, move I may.
How long then shall your fruitlesse will
   An enimy soe farr from fall,
With weake endevor strive to kill,
   You rotten hedg, you broken wall?

Forsooth, the hee no more may rise,
   Advaunced eft to throne and crown:
To headlong him their thoughtes devise,
   And, past reliefe, to tread him downe.
Their love is only love of lies:
  Their words and deedes dissenting soe,
When from their lippes most blessing flyes,
   Then deepest curse in hart doth grow.

Yet shall my soule in silence still
   On God, my hope, attentive stay:
Yet hee my fort, my health, my hill,
   Remove? O no: not move I may.
My God doth me with glory fill,
   Not only shield me safe from harme:
To shun distresse, to conquer ill,
   to him I clime, in him I arme.

O then, on God, our certaine stay,
   All people in all times rely,
Your hartes before him naked lay:
   To Adams sonnes tis vain to fly,
Soe vain soe false, soe fraile are they;
   Ev'n he that seemeth most of might
With lightnesse self if him you waigh,
  Then lightnesse self will waigh more light.

In fraud, and force, noe trust repose:
   Such idle hopes from thoughtes expell,
And take good heed, when riches growes
   Let not your hart on riches dwell.
All powre is Gods, his own word showes,
   Once said by him, twice heard by me:
Yet from thee, Lord, all mercy flowes,
  And each manns work is paid by thee.

Translation by Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke (1562—1621)

•    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •   •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •   •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

In college I bought a paperback copy of The Penguin Book of Women Poets. It quickly became a bedside companion, and remained so for many years. Now it is yellowed and tattered, but still sits in the basket beside my favorite chair. This amazing translation of Psalm 62 by Mary Sidney is starred in a number of different markers, and in fact the book opens right to it now. You might like it too, particularly if you read it aloud. At some point I memorized it, and lines from the poem will pop into my head at different times. For example: to headlong him their thoughtes devise or, sometimes: You rotten hedg, you broken wall or, more comfortingly: Yet shall my soule in silence still / on God, my hope, attentive stay.

This evening when my tired three-year-old was headlonging me, that is running at me with his head down like a battering ram, the line popped into my mind, and so I tread him downe.

I have little else to say,  it is very late and things have been incredibly busy. My friends and I are starting a small Waldorf preschool for next year, and it is no small endeavor. You can puruse the website/blog I made for our school, The Wooden Button.

{ p o e t r y  w e d n e s d a y }

1 comment:

Julia said...

I'd love to have that book by my bedside.

The Wooden Button looks wonderful. I love the photo of the kids around a table with a candle and *real* (ceramic, not plastic) dishes-- very ennobling.