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HENRY HOWARD, EARL OF SURREY

King David in Prayer. Florentine Bible, 1470s. Biblioteca Medicea-Laurentiana, Firenze.
King David in Prayer. Florentine Bible, 1470s.


PARAPHRASES OF THE PSALMS OF DAVID.



PSALM LV.

Give ear to my suit, Lord! fromward hide not thy face:
Behold! hearken, in grief, lamenting how I pray:
My foes that bray so loud, and eke threpe on1 so fast,
Buckled to do me scath,2 so is their malice bent.
Care pierceth my entrails, and travaileth my spirit;
The grisly fear of death environeth my breast:
A trembling cold of dread overwhelmeth my heart.
'Oh!' think I, 'had I wings like to the simple dove,
This peril might I fly; and seek some place of rest
In wilder woods, where I might dwell far from these cares.'
What speedy way of wing my plaints should they lay on,
To 'scape the stormy blast that threaten'd is to me?
Rein those unbridled tongues! break that conjured league!
For I decipher'd have amid our town the strife.
Guile and wrong keep the walls they ward both day and night:
And mischief join'd with care doth keep the market-stead:
Whilst wickedness with crafts in heaps swarm through the street.
Ne my declared foe wrought me all this reproach.3
By harm so looked for, it weigheth half the less.
For though mine enemies hap had been for to prevail,
I could have hid my face from venom of his eye.
It was a friendly foe, by shadow of good will;
Mine old fere,4 and dear friend, my guide that trapped me;
Where I was wont to fetch the cure of all my care.
And in his bosom hide my secret zeal to God.
With such sudden surprise, quick may him hell devour;
Whilst I invoke the Lord, whose power shall me defend,
My prayer shall not cease, from that the sun descends,
Till he his alture5 win, and hide them in the sea.
With words of hot effect,6 that moveth from heart contrite,
Such humble suit, O Lord, doth pierce thy patient ear.
It was the Lord that brake the bloody compacts of those
That pricked on with ire, to slaughter me and mine.
The everlasting God, whose kingdom hath no end,
Whom by no tale to dread he could divert from sin,
The conscience unquiet he strikes with heavy hand,
And proves their force in faith, whom he sware to defend.
Butter falls not so soft as doth his patience long,
And overpasseth fine oil running not half so smooth.
But when his sufferance finds that bridled wrath provokes,
His threatened wrath he whets more sharp than tool can file.
Friar! whose harm and tongue presents the wicked sort,
Of those false wolves, with coats which do their ravin hide;7
That swear to me by heaven, the footstool of the Lord,
Though force had hurt my fame, they did not touch my life.
Such patching care I loath, as feeds the wealth with lies;
But in the other Psalm of David find I ease.
Jacta curam tuam super Dominum, et ipse te enutriet.8



[AJ Notes:
1. To badmouth a person.
2. Harm, injury.
3. i.e. "And it isn't just my known enemy who has caused all this."
4. Companion.
5. Altitude.
6. words of hot effect, impassioned words.
7. ravin, predatoriness; i.e. wolves in sheeps' clothing.
8. "Cast thy care upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee."]





Source:
Surrey, Henry Howard, Earl of. The Poems of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey.
London: William Pickering, 1831. 109-111.




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London in the time of Henry VII. MS. Roy. 16 F. ii.
London, 1510, the earliest view in print
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