Continuing with my ‘corona’ on the psalms, a series of interwoven responses to the psalter, each poem beginning with the last line of the previous poem and offering its last line to the next, we come to psalm VII, a psalm of complete trust in God but also a psalm about his judgement. This psalm contains the crucial insight that in the end evil is self destructive, that it contains the seeds of its own demise:
He hath graven and digged up a pit: and is fallen on himself into the destruction that he made for other.
For his travail shall come upon his own head: and his wickedness shall fall on his own pate.
This is an insight that Milton expressed very powerfully in Comus, where one of the brothers in that masque says ‘Evil will back recoil upon itself and mix no more with good’ the phrase ‘back recoil upon itself’ was probably an allusion to the way cannons recoil back when they are fired – Milton regarded such weapons as essentially a devilish invention, indeed in Paradise Lost there is a scene in Hell where the devils invent fire arms. The psalm also talks about the evil person as ‘a devouring lion’ another image I pick up in my poem, though I balance it with an allusion to the true Lion, Christ mystically shown in revelation as ‘The Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah”, and of course, for modern readers, to Aslan the Great Lion who is Christ in Narnia. You may like to reread the psalm in Coverdales translation, which is my source text before or after you read my poetic reflection on it. If you are new to this series here are links to the other poems:
V III and IV II I
As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button
Until I recognise his face at last
I’ll trust him in the dark and carry on,
Till these destructive powers fall back to dust
Till the devouring lions are fled and gone
Before the Great Lion in his righteousness.
Then every place where some small gleam has shown
Will shine within the light of holiness,
And he will prove and make me true of heart,
My lord and God, Dominus deus meus.
Evil can only break itself apart
Recoiling back into its own destruction
And digging its own grave. It has no part
In the true kingdom. All its desolation
Will fall away to nothing and be gone,
Before the splendour of the resurrection.
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