Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

The First Psalm


[This version was first printed in the second edition of the poet's
work. It cannot be regarded as one of his happiest compositions: it is
inferior, not indeed in ease, but in simplicity and antique rigour of
language, to the common version used in the Kirk of Scotland. Burns
had admitted "Death and Dr. Hornbook" into Creech's edition, and
probably desired to balance it with something at which the devout
could not cavil.]


The man, in life wherever 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.


Robert Burns


Poetry