Verse > Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey > Poetical Works
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Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517–47).  The Poetical Works.  1880.
 
A Paraphrase of Some of the Psalms of David
“Though, Lord, to Israel”
 
THOUGH, Lord, to Israel thy graces plenteous be;
I mean to such, with pure intent as fix their trust in Thee,
Yet whiles the Faith did faint that should have been my guide,
Like them that walk in slipper paths, my feet began to slide;
Whiles I did grudge at those that glory in their gold,        5
Whose loathsome pride enjoyeth wealth, in quiet as they would.
To see by course of years what nature doth appair, 1
The palaces of princely form succeed from heir to heir.
From all such travails free, as ’long to Adam’s seed,
Neither withdrawn from wicked works by danger, nor by dread.        10
Whereof their scornful pride, and gloried with their eyes;
As garments clothe the naked man, thus are they clad in vice.
Thus, as they wish, succeeds the mischief that they mean;
Whose glutted cheeks sloth feeds so fat, as scant their eyes be seen. 2
Unto whose cruel power most men for dread are fain        15
To bend or bow; with lofty looks, whiles they vaunt in their reign;
And in their bloody hands, whose cruelty that frame
The wailful works that scourge the poor, without regard of blame.
To tempt the living God they think it no offence;
And pierce the simple with their tongues that can make no defence.        20
Such proofs before the just, to cause the hearts to waver,
Be set like cups mingled with gall, of bitter taste and savour.
Then say thy foes in scorn, that taste no other food,
But suck the flesh of thy Elect, and bathe them in their blood;
‘Should we believe the Lord doth know, and suffer this?        25
Fooled be he with fables vain that so abused is.’
In terror of the just, that reigns iniquity,
Armed with power, laden with gold, and dread for cruelty.
Then vain the war might seem, that I by faith maintain
Against the flesh, whose false effects my pure heart would disdain.        30
For I am scourged still, that no offence have done,
By wrathès children; and from my birth my chastising begun.
When I beheld their pride, and slackness of thy hand,
I gan bewail the woful state wherein thy chosen stand.
And when I sought whereof thy sufferance, Lord, should grow,        35
I found no wit could pierce so far, thy holy dooms to know:
And that no mysteries, nor doubt could be distrust,
Till I come to the holy place, the mansion of the just;
Where I shall see what end thy justice shall prepare,
For such as build on worldly wealth, and dye their colours fair.        40
Oh! how their ground is false! and all their building vain!
And they shall fall; their power shall fail that did their pride maintain.
As charged hearts with care, that dream some pleasant turn,
After their sleep find their abuse, and to their plaint return;
So shall their glory fade; thy sword of vengeance shall        45
Unto their drunken eyes in blood disclose their errors all.
And when their golden fleece is from their back y-shorn;
The spots that underneath were hid, thy chosen sheep shall scorn:
And till that happy day, my heart shall swell in care,
My eyes yield tears, my years consume between hope and despair.        50
Lo! how my spirits are dull, and all thy judgments dark,
No mortal head may scale so high, but wonder at thy work.
Alas! how oft my foes have framed my decay;
But when I stood in dread to drench, 3 thy hands still did me stay.
And in each voyage that I took to conquer sin,        55
Thou wert my guide, and gave me grace, to comfort me therein.
And when my wither’d skin unto my bones did cleave,
And flesh did waste, thy grace did then my simple spirits relieve.
In other succour then, O Lord! why should I trust;
But only thine, whom I have found in thy behight 4 so just.        60
And such for dread, or gain as shall thy name refuse,
Shall perish with their golden gods that did their hearts seduce.
While 5 I, that in thy word have set my trust and joy,
The high reward that ’longs thereto shall quietly enjoy.
And my unworthy lips, inspired with thy grace,        65
Shall thus forespeak thy secret works, in sight of Adam’s race.
 
Note 1. Become weak; decay. [back]
Note 2. This seems aimed at K. Henry VIII. [back]
Note 3. To be overwhelmed. [back]
Note 4. Promise. [back]
Note 5. MS. Where. [back]
 
 
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