While Foes Assailed Me Round I Bravely
While foes assail’d me round, I bravely said,
Not by the tongue I’d be to crime betray’d;
My tongue to bridle, firmly I decreed,
As by the bitted rein is rul’d the steed.
Strict silence then I kept, tho’ great the pain,
And e’en from just complaints did long refrain.
But as more fiercely burns the flame confin’d,
With stronger rage was fir’d my troubled mind;
Thro’ all restraint at length my anguish broke,
And in these ‘plaining terms to heav’n I spoke:
“How long, O God, must I endure the strife?
“What bounds are set to this my wearied life?
“O tell the stated number of my days;
“When end my sorrows; when begins my peace?
“When wings my soul to heav’n? when leaves behind
“This house of clay, ah! too, too long confin’d?
“A very span is life, compar’d with thee;
“Our years weigh nothing with eternity;
“Swift as an empty shade, they fleet away,
“And our best state’s the phantom of a day,
“Our blooming hopes one sudden blast destroys,
“Pall’d are our pleasures, transient are our joys;
“Vain all our cares, and all our labours vain,
“With tedious toil our mining stores we gain,
“Heap up our wealth, to leave it, when we’re gone,
“To whom?–to heirs alas! to us unknown.
“Where then, O gracious God, shall I apply?
“To thee, O Lord; I on thy pow’r rely.
“O free me from th’ occasion of my woes,
“My wicked crimes, from whence my evils rose;
“Nor leave me in my miseries forlorn,
“To fools, to sinners, a reproach, a scorn.
“When griefs surrounded me, I silence kept,
“Spoke not my ‘plainings, but in secret wept;
“For them the punishments of sin I knew,
“The woes that to my countless crimes were due.
“But now, O Lord, the bitter stroke remove;
“Too weak to bear the killing pang I prove.
“Dost thou the wicked for their sins chastise?
“Fails all their strength, and all their beauty dies;
“Like garments fretted by the moth away,
“They fade, they pine, they wither, they decay.
“Then pitying hear, all-clement God, my cry,
“Nor from my pleading tears avert thy eye:
“A stranger here, a sojourner I am;
“As strangers, hither all my fathers came;
“Had here no certain, no abiding place;
“But ran a short, a momentary race.
“Yet spare me still awhile; thy hand restrain;
“Let my tir’d soul some little respite gain,
“Her strength retrieve, recruit her languid pow’r,
“‘Fore I go hence, and shall be seen no more.”