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Psalm Cxxxviii
(1790-1867 / the United States)

Psalm Cxxxviii

WE sat us down and wept,
Where Babel's waters slept,
And we thought of home and Zion as a long-gone, happy dream;
We hung our harps in air
On the willow boughs, which there,
Gloomy as round a sepulchre, were drooping o'er the stream.

The foes, whose chain we wore,
Were with us on that shore,
Exulting in our tears that told the bitterness of woe.
'Sing us,' they cried aloud,
'Ye, once so high and proud,
'The songs ye sang in Zion ere we laid her glory low.'

And shall the harp of heaven
To Judah's monarch given
Be touched by captive fingers, or grace a fettered hand?
No! sooner be my tongue
Mute, powerless, and unstrung,
Than its words of holy music make glad a stranger land.

May this right hand, whose skill
Can wake the harp at will,
And bid the listeners, joys or griefs in light or darkness come,
Forget its godlike power,
If for one brief, dark hour,
My heart forgets Jerusalem, fallen city of my home!

Daughter of Babylon!
Blest be that chosen one,
Whom God shall send to smite thee when there is none to save;
He from the mother's breast,
Shall pluck the babe at rest,
And lay it in the sleep of death beside its father's grave.

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