1843 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Julius Mickle

John Holland, in Psalmists of Britain. Records of upwards of One Hundred and Fifty Authors, who have rendered the Whole or Parts of The Book of Psalms, into English Verse (1843) 2:236-38.



This elegant Poet was born in Scotland, 1734; he wrote "Sir Martyn," a poem in imitation of Spenser, and another piece entitled "Almeida Hill." The work, however, by which he is now best known in English Literature, and which bears the stamp of true genius, is a translation of the "Lusiad" of Camoens, from the Portuguese. Mickle died in 1788. The following spirited Ode occurs among his other pieces, as a translation of

PSALM LXVIII.
Arise, O God, assume thy might!
Shall proud oppressors still unaw'd devour,
Still trample on the poor man's right,
And lewdly scorn thy power?
When roaring from the, western deep
The black-wing'd tempests rush,
When o'er, the hills with headlong sweep
The inundations gush;
As then the whirling chaff is driven,
So swept away shall be,
All who despise the laws of heaven,
Nor honour pay to thee.

But, O ye just, with rapture raise
Your cheerful voices in his praise
With sacred awe, and holy mirth
Resound the God of heaven and earth,
The God whose mercy knows no end,
The poor man's and the widow's Friend,
The helpless orphan's Sire;
Who, round the meek, afflicted, just,
Though crush'd and humbled in the dust,
Is still a wall of fire.

When thou, O God, didst march before
Thy people to the promised shore,
Then shook old earth: the sky
Shot lightnings from on high;
The rapid Jordan bared his bed,
The Ocean saw his God, and fled;
The lofty cliffs of Sinai nod
And tremble at the presence of their thundering God.

The Lord Jehovah gave the word,
And loud the tribes resound,
And mighty kings and mighty hosts
Lay scatter'd o'er the ground:
Dispers'd as snow in Salmon's plain,
So fell, so lay the mighty slain,
And with their purple spoils are crown'd
The tender virgin train.

Thousands of angels at thy gate,
And great archangels stand,
And twenty thousand chariots wait,
Great Lord, thy dread command!
Through all thy great, thy vast domains,
With godlike honours clad,
Captivity in captive chains
Triumphing thou hast led.
That thou might'st dwell with men below,
And be their God and King.
From Bashan, and the land of woe,
Shalt thou thy people bring:
From Bashan, and the desert shore,
To blooming fields and cities fair,
While sacred songsters march before,
And Jacob's princes faint no more,
Shalt thou the way prepare.
Lo! Egypt's kings and wisest men
Shall bend the duteous knee,
And Ethiopia, wide and great,
Through all her vast extended state,
Shall stretch her hands to thee.
But, awful Sovereign! who can stand
Before the terrors of thy hand,
When thy right hand impends the blow
To strike a proud obdurate foe?
Yet to thy saints, O God of prayer,
How mild thy mercies shine!
The tenderest father's ardent care
But ill resembles thine:
Thy mercies far, oh, far above
Thy other wonders shine,
A mother's ever watchful love
But ill resembles thine!