Sunday, 25 November 2018

Where, ruin'd Sion, do thy glories lie? - Jean Racine

Where, ruin'd Sion, do thy glories lie?
All lands erewhile thy sacred pomp admir'd ;
Now thou art dust; thy grandeur quite expir'd ;
And nought to us remains save mournful memory.

Once rais'd to heaven, now crush'd by Heaven's decree,
Ah, let this stifled voice for ever fail,
If e'er it ceas'd thy misery to bewail,
Or, till its latest pulse, this heart wept not for thee!

Shores of Jordan, fields by Heaven once blest;
Hallow'd mountain, verdant fruitful vale,
Where god-like wonders mark'd each hill or dale,
Must we, as wanderers, evermore
Our loved and holy land deplore,
Still exiled from our great forefathers' rest?

When, fallen Solyma, shall I behold
Anew thy gorgeous bulwarks rise?
When shall thy towers, and temple deck'd in gold,
Again salute our watching eyes?
When shall I see the countless throng
Hailing thy solemn feasts with loud exultant song?

O God, whose Name through worlds resounds,
Whom the pure robe of heavenly light surrounds.
Who on the wings of all the winds
Fliest, and angelic choirs thy throne upbear, —
God, who hast will'd that simplest infant minds
Shall in their anthems share,
Behold our perils and the oppressor's sword!
Give to thy Name the victory!
Let not the Power in highest Heaven ador'd,
By idol-offerings outraged be!
Lord, arm thyself with might
Resistless for us, as of yore
When the Red Sea's wild waves, before
Thy strong blast, clave in mute affright.
And stay'd their dire uproar.
Let guilty mortals learn
To tremble at thy wrath,
And perish as the wither'd grasses bum,
Or dust flies scatter'd in the tempest's path!

Jean Racine (Jean-Baptiste Racine) (1639 - 1699) France
Translated by John Shepard
Source: The foreign sacred lyre, metrical versions of religious poetry from the German, French and Italian, selected by John Shepard, Jackson and Walford, 1857
From his play Esther (1689)

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