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The First Psalm

The man, in life where-ever plac'd, Hath happiness in store, Who walks not in the wicked's way, Nor learns their guilty lore! Nor from the seat of scornful Pride Casts forth his eyes abroad, But with humility and awe Still walks before his God. That man shall flourish like the trees Which by the streamlets grow; The fruitful top is spread on high, And firm the root below. But he whose blossom buds in guilt Shall to the ground be cast, And like the rootless stubble tost, Before the sweeping blast. For why? That God the good adore Hath giv'n them peace and rest, But hath decreed that wicked men Shall ne'er be truly blest.


Juliet Cadzow
Simon Tait

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It is read here by Juliet Cadzow.

Themes for this poem

religion life

Selected for 18 March

On the fourth Sunday of Lent, one of Burns’ impressive verse versions of the Psalms. Although unconventional, indeed unorthodox, the poet’s religious convictions were firm. The man was schooled in, though sceptical about, strict Calvinism and retained a Presbyterian’s sense of, ‘humility and awe’ whilst sometimes believing himself to be one, whose ‘...blossom buds in guilt’. Robert Burns’ own oeuvre has been called a, ‘secular psalmody’.

Donny O'Rourke

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