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“Whence and what art thou, execrable shape?”
            --John Milton (1667)

 

A Paraphrase of Psalm CXIV

When the blest seed of Terah’s faithful Son,
After long toil their liberty had won,
And past from Pharian fields to Canaan Land,
Led by the strength of the Almighty’s hand,
Jehovah’s wonders were in Israel known.
That saw the troubl’d Sea, and shivering fled,
And sought to hide his froth-becurled head
Low in the earth; Jordan’s clear streams recoil,
As a faint host that hath receiv’d the foil.
The high, huge-bellied Mountains skip like Rams
Amongst their Ewes, the little Hills like Lambs.
Why fled the Ocean?  And why skipt the Mountains?
Why turned Jordan toward his Crystal Fountains?
Shake earth, and at the presence be aghast
Of him that ever was, and aye shall last,
That glass floods from rugged rocks can crush,
And make soft rills from fiery flint-stones gush.

[On “A Paraphrase of Psalm CXIV”:  Milton paraphrased this psalm at age fifteen from his own translation of the original Hebrew.  A fifteen year old in the US today would be, generally, a sophomore in high school.]

 

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Last Updated: Tue, June 27, 2006
©2006 John Struloeff -- All Rights Reserved.