James Thomson (11 September 1700 – 27 August 1748 / Ednam in Roxburghshire, Scotland)
Psalm CIV. Paraphrased
To praise thy Author, Soul, do not forget;
Canst thou, in gratitude, deny the debt?
Lord, thou art great, how great we cannot know;
Honour and majesty do round thee flow.
The purest rays of primogenial light
Compose thy robes, and make them dazzling bright;
The heavens and all the wide spread orbs on high
Thou like a curtain stretch'd of curious dye;
On the devouring flood thy chambers are
Establish'd; a lofty cloud's thy car;
Which quick through the ethereal road doth fly,
On swift wing'd winds, that shake the troubled sky.
Of spiritual substance angels thou didst frame,
Active and bright, piercing and quick as flame.
Thou'st firmly founded this unwieldy earth;
Stand fast for aye, thou saidst, at nature's birth.
The swelling flood thou o'er the earth madest creep,
And coveredst it with the vast hoary deep:
Then hills and vales did no distinction know,
But level'd nature lay oppress'd below.
With speed they, at thy awful thunder's roar,
Shrinked within the limits of their shore.
Through secret tracts they up the mountains creep,
And rocky caverns fruitful moisture weep,
Which sweetly through the verdant vales doth glide,
Till 'tis devoured by the greedy tide.
The feeble sands thou'st made the ocean's mounds,
Its foaming waves shall ne'er repass these bounds,
Again to triumph over the dry grounds.
Between the hills, grazed by the bleating kind,
Soft warbling rills their mazy way do find;
By him appointed fully to supply,
When the hot dogstar fires the realms on high,
The raging thirst of every sickening beast,
Of the wild ass that roams the dreary waste:
The feather'd nations, by their smiling sides,
In lowly brambles, or in trees abide;
By nature taught, on them they rear their nests,
That with inimitable art are dress'd.
They for the shade and safety of the wood
With natural music cheer the neighbourhood.
He doth the clouds with genial moisture fill,
Which on the [shr]ivel'd ground they bounteously distil,
And nature's lap with various blessings crowd:
The giver, God! all creatures cry aloud.
With freshest green he clothes the fragrant mead,
Whereon the grazing herds wanton and feed.
With vital juice he makes the plants abound,
And herbs securely spring above the ground,
That man may be sustain'd beneath the toil
Of manuring the ill producing soil;
Which with a plenteous harvest does at last
Cancel the memory of labours past;
Yields him the product of the generous vine,
And balmy oil that makes his face to shine:
Fills all his granaries with a loaden crop,
Against the bare barren winter his great prop.
The trees of God with kindly sap do swell,
E'en cedars tall in Lebanon that dwell,
Upon whose lofty tops the birds erect
Their nests, as careful nature does direct.
The long neck'd storks unto the fir trees fly,
And with their cackling cries disturb the sky.
To unfrequented hills wild goats resort,
And on bleak rocks the nimble conies sport.
The changing moon he clad with silver light,
To check the black dominion of the night:
High through the skies in silent state she rides,
And by her rounds the fleeting time divides.
The circling sun doth in due time decline,
And unto shades the murmuring world resign.
Dark night thou makest succeed the cheerful day,
Which forest beasts from their lone caves survey:
They rouse themselves, creep out, and search their prey.
Young hungry lions from their dens come out,
And, mad on blood, stalk fearfully about:
They break night's silence with their hideous roar,
And from kind heaven their nightly prey implore.
Just as the lark begins to stretch her wing,
And, flickering on her nest, makes short essays to sing,
And the sweet dawn, with a faint glimmering light,
Unveils the face of nature to the sight,
To their dark dens they take their hasty flight.
Not so the husbandman,—for with the sun
He does his pleasant course of labours run:
Home with content in the cool e'en returns,
And his sweet toils until the morn adjourns.
How many are thy wondrous works, O Lord!
They of thy wisdom solid proofs afford:
Out of thy boundless goodness thou didst fill,
With riches and delights, both vale and hill:
E'en the broad ocean, wherein do abide
Monsters that flounce upon the boiling tide,
And swarms of lesser beasts and fish beside:
'Tis there that daring ships before the wind
Do send amain, and make the port assign'd:
'Tis there that Leviathan sports and plays,
And spouts his water in the face of day;
For food with gaping mouth they wait on thee,
If thou withhold'st, they pine, they faint, they die.
Thou bountifully opest thy liberal hand,
And scatter'st plenty both on sea and land.
Thy vital spirit makes all things live below,
The face of nature with new beauties glow.
God's awful glory ne'er will have an end,
To vast eternity it will extend.
When he surveys his works, at the wide sight
He doth rejoice, and take divine delight.
His looks the earth into its centre shakes;
A touch of his to smoke the mountains makes.
I'll to God's honour consecrate my lays,
And when I cease to be I'll cease to praise.
Upon the Lord, a sublime lofty theme,
My meditations sweet, my joys supreme.
Let daring sinners feel thy vengeful rod,
May they no more be known by their abode.
My soul and all my powers. O bless the Lord,
And the whole race of men with one accord.
Comments about this poem (Psalm CIV. Paraphrased by James Thomson )
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