“Psalm 15”

Sovereign Lord, our Lord, who may live with you?
And who will you allow within your house,
To come into your holy presence there
And stand before your glory and your face?

A person who has lived a blameless life
And never wandered from the righteous path,
Whose heart is full of truth and overflows
To speak no lie against his neighbor’s good,
Who holds those who love God in high esteem
But scorns the vile, who disregard God’s law,
With grave contempt born from his highest love,
Who makes no promise he will fail to keep,
Who seeks no profit in his neighbor’s pain
But gives and lends his money without cost,
Who judges justly and impartially,
Finding in favor of the innocent
And never looking at an offered bribe—

If anyone is righteous, he shall stand
And enter in God’s presence in his house,
Where nothing shall disturb his trusting rest.

The Anchorite by Teodor Axentowicz

This poem is the fifteenth in my series of verse paraphrases of the Psalms. I began this project in 2012, starting with the first Psalm, and have worked on one Psalm at a time; I began this poem soon after finishing my setting of Psalm 14, in November of last year, but didn’t finish it until earlier this month.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments), follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things), or get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing. The Kindle edition of my book is on sale this weekend. You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

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“Psalm 12”

All those who love your ways, O Lord, are dead,
And every man who spoke the truth is gone,
For cheerful flattery gilds every tongue,
And every mouth lies to its nearest friends.

Come quickly, Sovereign Lord, and make an end:
Let every tongue that flatters be no more,
And stop forever every lip that boasts
In triumph that it need obey no lord.

“My ear has heard the needy,” says the Lord,
“And I have seen those who oppress the poor,
So I will quickly come to rescue them,
To stand a shield from those who wish them harm.”

And unlike mortal lies, God’s words are perfect;
Much like silver tested seven times,
In which no hint or speck of dross remains,
All that our Lord has said is without flaw.

Ah, Lord, our Lord, our hearts will trust in you,
For though the wicked liars strut and crow
And hold abominations up for praise,
We know you keep us safe from them forever.

Sodom and Gomorrah by John Martin

This poem is the twelfth in my series of verse paraphrases of the Psalms. I began this project in 2012, starting with the first Psalm, and have worked on one Psalm at a time; I wrote this poem in one sitting immediately after finishing my setting of Psalm 11, in mid-September.

As always, I earnestly welcome your questions, suggestions, or other comments about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments); get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing; or follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things). You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

“Psalm 10”

Why, Lord, my Lord, are you so far away?
Why do you hide when I am in distress?
For wicked men, in pride, pursue the weak
And scheme until they catch them in their net;
They boast of all their great desires fulfilled
But ever want much more and “better” things.
They praise those who are like them in their greed,
And, when they think of God, revile his name,
For in their haughty arrogance of thought
They have no room to seek or follow God.

Despite the scorn they heap upon your law,
Their ways seem charmed and always prosperous.
They scoff at any foe, and sneer at danger,
For they say, “What woe can threaten me?
My life and wealth shall always be secure,
For I shall see untroubled happiness.”

But bitter poison spews out from their mouths;
They call down curses, issue monstrous threats,
And seek to drown the truth in floods of lies,
For words of evil flow up from their hearts,
And trouble comes to those beneath their tongue.

Because they stir up greed, they hunt the weak
And lie in secret ambush for the helpless,
To beat the innocent with brutal brawn.
Their only thought of God is but a sneer:
“God soon forgot my works and face and name,
And cannot call to mind what I have done;
He blinds his eyes, and I am unopposed.”

Not so! And therefore, Sovereign Lord, arise,
For neither grief nor woe escapes your eye,
Nor do you let them silently pass by.
And thus the helpless, fatherless, oppressed,
Who in disaster have no other hope,
Have trusted you and cry to you for help.
Rise up, O Lord, stretch forth your mighty hand,
And break the oppressors’ wicked, grasping army;
Lay bare and punish all their secret sins,
The crimes they hid from every mortal judge.

Lord, you alone are everlasting King,
And every prince or serf who does not bow
In fealty before your righteous throne
Shall surely perish from your scepter’s sway—
But you have ever bent your ear to hear
The longing of those broken down by woes,
The cries of those whose lives see much distress,
And ever shielded orphans and the weak.
For all whose boots oppressed them are mere men,
Creatures of earth, while you are of the heavens;
When you arise, they go down to the grave,
And you have banished even fear of them.

The Last Judgment by John Martin

This is the tenth in my series of verse paraphrases of the Psalms. I began this project in 2012, starting with the first Psalm, and have worked on one Psalm at a time; I began this poem soon after finishing my setting of Psalm 9 in early May, and finished it about a week ago.

As always, I earnestly welcome your questions, suggestions, or other comments about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments); get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing; or follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things). You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

Psalm 9

O Lord, my heart is full and sings your praise;
Rejoicing, I shall tell your mighty deeds,
The wonders that your outstretched hand has wrought.

For you have put my enemies to flight;
They stumble as they perish in the way.
In justice you have lifted up my head
As you have sat in judgment on your throne,
And ended all the nations’ wicked schemes. Continue reading

“God has ordained a justice”

God has ordained a justice in this world:
“What a man sows, he soon shall also reap.”
But not one man of all of Adam’s sons—
No man or woman, save only the Christ—
Has sowed to God and righteousness alone,
And weedy Vice will choke out Virtue’s wheat.
Have mercy on us, great and gracious Lord!
Deliver us from pits that we have dug,
And hedge us in, till we no longer walk
Along the easy road that leads to death.

This poem came to me earlier this week, after I’d been thinking over what to post for this first Friday in Lent, especially after (as I mentioned after last week’s poem) the poem I had been working on was lost.

As always, I earnestly welcome your (further) comments, suggestions (perhaps of a real title for this poem?), questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. If you liked this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems nearly every Friday, or read other poems I’ve written (perhaps starting with those linked from one of the “archive” installments, since the full archive is by now, at over two hundred poems, somewhat daunting). You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This poem is also mirrored on my wiki.

Character Profile: Argentmentes of Luddington

Today’s topic is a profile of a major character in my Shine Cycle that I’ve wanted to describe here for quite some time now, but the material wasn’t ready yet. Now, however, at last …

Argentmentes – Duke of Luddington, Justice Minister, many times Lord Regent, and Visiting Scholar. He has served honorably and with distinction in many of the Empire’s wars, including in a company several times decorated for valor and chivalry in the war that began shortly after his arrival, and is usually named “the most potent mind on the Empire’s legal team.” He is married to the Duchess of Calahur, whose district borders Luddington. Continue reading

“Psalm 1”

How blest is he who, blameless, does not walk
In evil paths that wicked men command,
Or take his stand with those who will not heed,
Or sit among the disobedient—
For his supreme delight is in God’s law
His thoughts dwell ever on it all the day,
And in his heart he nightly meditates
On all the precepts that the Lord has made.
And therefore he’s established like a tree
That’s planted by the waters by God’s hand,
That yearly bears its fruit abundantly
And stretches forth its branches lushly garbed
With leaves, unwithering, of verdant green—
And every work to which he’s turned his hands
The Lord has made to prosper and succeed.

Not so the wicked, whom God does not help.
Like piles of chaff left on the threshing floor,
Then scattered by the wind, they too shall pass.
For thus the wicked shall not stand for long
Under the judgment of God’s holy throne,
Nor sinners live among his righteous saints
Who always gather for his glory’s praise—
For God preserves the paths of righteous men,
But wicked men are stumbling down to death.

This versification, or “setting,” of the first Psalm is the beginning of a new intermittent series of poems I’ve embarked on. I intend to write at least one setting of each of the 150 psalms.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. (In other words, if you liked this poem, or you didn’t like it, or it made you think of something, or … please leave a comment to let me know.) If you liked this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday, or read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (starting with yesterday’s archive installment, since the full archive is by now, at well over a hundred poems, somewhat daunting); I’d especially like to know, as part of my preparations for a collection, which poems you think are my best. You may also share it with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This poem is also archived on my wiki.