1 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.
2 Strict silence then I kept, tho' great the pain,
And e'en from just complaints did long refrain.
3 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:
4 "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?
5 "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,
6 "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.
7 "Where then, O gracious God, shall I apply?
"To thee, O Lord; I on thy pow'r rely.
8 "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.
9 "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.
10 "But now, O Lord, the bitter stroke remove;
"Too weak to bear the killing pang I prove.
11 "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.
12 "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.
13 "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."