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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Translation of the 137th Psalm

By Francis Bacon (1561–1626)

From ‘Works,’ Vol. xiv.

WHENAS we sat all sad and desolate,

By Babylon upon the river’s side,

Eased from the tasks which in our captive state

We were enforcèd daily to abide,

Our harps we had brought with us to the field,

Some solace to our heavy souls to yield.

But soon we found we failed of our account,

For when our minds some freedom did obtain,

Straightways the memory of Sion Mount

Did cause afresh our wounds to bleed again;

So that with present gifts, and future fears,

Our eyes burst forth into a stream of tears.

As for our harps, since sorrow struck them dumb,

We hanged them on the willow-trees were near;

Yet did our cruel masters to us come,

Asking of us some Hebrew songs to hear:

Taunting us rather in our misery,

Than much delighting in our melody.

Alas (said we) who can once force or frame

His grievèd and oppressèd heart to sing

The praises of Jehovah’s glorious name,

In banishment, under a foreign king?

In Sion is his seat and dwelling-place,

Thence doth he shew the brightness of his face.

Hierusalem, where God his throne hath set,

Shall any hour absent thee from my mind?

Then let my right hand quite her skill forget,

Then let my voice and words no passage find;

Nay, if I do not thee prefer in all

That in the compass of my thoughts can fall.

Remember thou, O Lord, the cruel cry

Of Edom’s children, which did ring and sound,

Inciting the Chaldean’s cruelty,

“Down with it, down with it, even unto the ground.”

In that good day repay it unto them,

When thou shalt visit thy Hierusalem.

And thou, O Babylon, shalt have thy turn

By just revenge, and happy shall he be,

That thy proud walls and towers shall waste and burn,

And as thou didst by us, so do by thee.

Yea, happy he that takes thy children’s bones,

And dasheth them against the pavement stones.