Introduction. Psalm translations, from Hebrew, Greek (the Septuagint) and Latin (the Vulgate), were not unusal school exercises. Milton certainly performed such exercises (see his paraphrase on Psalm 114), but many of the translations published in the 1673 edition of Poems appear to have been done as much for devotional as for linguistic exercise. Certainly Milton also took pride in the breadth of metrical virtuosity displayed in these verse translations.

It is instructive to compare Milton's translation with those of the King James Version and the Geneva. Also interesting to compare are the Scottish Psalm Book of 1564/1635 and the Bay Psalm Book of 1640.

The verse here is couplet form. It is not the common meter of the 1648 translations, and so the translation would not be considered for liturgical use. Rather, it is used for Milton's personal benefit, as an exercise in translation or a practice of various verse forms.

Milton devotes the first six lines to establishing the condition of the blessed man. The middle eight lines are divided thematically into two groups of four lines. Lines 7-10 establish the similitude of the blessed man, while lines 11-14 focus on the dissimilitude. The equal treatment of opposing themes is a skillful expansion of the Hebrew antithetical parallelism, which presents to opposing ideas in a single line or phrase. The final couplet form the thematic core of the psalm. They present the antithetical parallelsim succintly, and are the ground upon which the rest of the psalm has built. Milton captures the contrast neatly in his couplet.

he studies day and night. The line reflects Milton's personal approach to becoming and remaining blessed. His commitment to constant study is duly noted by his biographers and Milton himself. Where Milton has "studies," KJV and Geneva have "meditate."

tree. The tree is linked to the idea of the fall in lines 9 and 10 and may be a signal of the same topic which is to receive so much attention in Paradise Lost.

judgment. Misprinted in the 1673 version as "jugdment."