Preform a close reading of Wyatt’s translation of psalm 51. Explain the metre, rhyme diction, imagery, and other stylistic features and show how they illuminate and affect the ideas and argument. (Quotes from the psalm must be used throughout the entire paper)

I have provided the psalm below:

Psalm 51 Miserere mei deus (Have Mercy on me, O Lord)

[1] Rue on me Lord, for thy goodness and grace That of thy nature art so bountiful For that goodness that in thy word doth brace Repugnant natures is quiet wonderful And for thy mercies, number without end In heaven and earth perceived so plentiful That over all, they do themselves extend For His mercy, much more then man can sin Do away my sin, that thy grace offend [10] Oft times again wash me but wash me well within And from my sins, that thus make me afraid Make thou me clean, as ever thy wont hath been For unto thee now, none can be laid For to prescribe, remission of sin In heart returned, as thou thyself hast said And I beknow my fault, and any negligence In my sight my sin is fixed fast Thereof to have more perfect penitence To thee above, to thee have I trespassed [20] For none can cure my fault, but thou alone For in thy sight, I have not been aghast For to offend, judging thy sight as none So that my fault, were hid from sight of man Thy majesty, so from my sight was gone This know I, and repent, pardon thou then Whereby thou shalt keep still thy word stable Thy justice pure and clean, because that when I pardoned am, then forthwith justiciable Just I am judged, by justice of thy grace [30] For I myself, lo, thing most unstable Formed in offence, conceived in like case Am naught but sin from my nativity Be not these said, for mine excuse, ah alas But of thy help, to show necessity inward For lo, thou lovest the truth of the heart Which yet doth live, in most fidelity Though I have fallen, by frail overthwart For willful malice, lead me not the way So much, as hath the flesh, driven me apart [40] Wherefore (O Lord) as thou hast done alway Teach me, the hidden wisdom of thy lore Since that my faith, doth not yet decay And as the Jews, to heal thee leper sore With hyssop cleanse, cleanse me and I am clean Thou shalt me wash, and more then snow therefore I shall be white, how foul my fault hath been Thou of my health, shall gladsome tidings bring When from above, remission shall be seen [50] Descend on earth, thou shall be for joy upspring The bones, that were before consumed to dust Look not, oh Lord, upon mine offending But do away my deeds, that are unjust Make a clean heart in the middle of my breast With spirit upright, voided from filthy lust From thine eyes cure cast me not in unrest Nor take from me, the spirit of holiness Render to me joy of thy help & hest My will confirm, with the spirit of steadfastness [60] And by this, shall these godly things ensue Sinners I shall, into thy ways address They shall return to thee, and thy grace sue My tongue shall praise, thy justification My mouth shall spread, thy glorious praise true But of thy self, o God, this operation It must proceed by purging me from blood Among the just that I may have relation And of thy lauds for to let out the flood Thou must, oh lord my lips first unloose [70] For if thou hadst, esteemed pleasant good The outward deeds, that outward men disclose I would have offered, unto the sacrifice But thou delightest not, in no such gloss Of outward deed, as men dream and devise The sacrifice, that the lord liketh most Is spirit contrite, low heart in humble wise Thou dost accept, o God, for pleasant host Make Zion, Lord, according to thy will Inward Zion the Zion of the host [80] Of hearts, Jerusalem strength thy walls still Then shalt thou take for good the outward deeds Of a sacrifice, thy pleasure to fulfil The Auctor

OF deep secrets, that Dauid there did sing Of mercy, or faith, of frailty of grace Of God’s goodness, and of justifying Thy goodness did so, astonish him apace As who might say, who hath expressed this thing I sinner, I, what have I said alas That God’s goodness, would within my song entreat [90] Let me again, consider and repeat

And so he doth, but expressed by word But in his heart he turneth and poiseth Each word that his lips, might forth abroad He pointeth, he pauseth, he wondreth, he praiseth The mercy that hideth, of justice the sword The justice that so, his promise accomplisheth For his words sake, to worthless desert That gratis, his grace, to men doth depart Here hath he comfort, when he doth measure [100] Measureless mercy, to measureless faults To prodigal sinners, infinity treasure Treasure celestial, that never shall default Yea, when that sin shall fail, and may not endure Mercy shall reign again, whom shall not assault Of hell prevail, by whom lo, at this day Of heaven gates, remission is the key And when David, had pondered well and tried And seeth himself, not outerly deprived For light of grace, that dark of sine did hide [110] He findeth his hope much, therewith revived He importeth on the Lord, on every side For he knoweth well, that to mercy is ascribed Respectless labor, importune, cry, and call And thus beginneth his song, therewithal  ……………



Stylistic devices are elements that are used in different techniques to convey an auxiliary meaning, idea, or a feeling to either written and literal work like poetry, songs and dances or any kind of literature in arts. Examples include; metre, rhyme diction, imagery, simile, satire, sarcasm, paradox, rhetorical questions, repetition, consonance, assonance among others. The stylistic devices may be used to make the literature work very interesting to read and perform. In this paper, some of the stylistic devices used in the given bible chapter will be analyzed to determine their relevance in the given write up.

  1. Metre

A metre refers to poem rhythm which is based on the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables. The functional repeated unit in the poem or literature is known as a foot.  There are different kinds of metres classified according to the kind of foot that predominates in a given piece of literature. They include; iambic which is unstressed followed by stressed; trochaic which is stressed followed by unstressed; anapestic which is two stressed followed by unstressed and lastly, dactylic that has stressed and two unstressed. In Psalms 51, the following metres can be observed;

Line 1 Rue/ on/ me/ Lord/, for/ thy/ good/ness and/ grace/

Line 2 that/ of/ thy/ na/ture art/ so/ bou/nti/ful

The lines have applied predominant dactylic metre in the most part of the whole write up where we have one stressed and two unstressed syllables through the whole lines in all the verses. However in the last two lines the author used an iambic metre. As shown below;

Second last line: Res/pect/less/ la/bor/, im/por/tune/, cry/, and/ call /
Last line:             And /thus /be/gi/nneth/ his/ song/, the/re/wi/thal /

From these lines, it is evident that different metres have been used throughout the verses to emphasize on the weight of the message being passed in the verses. For example metre has been used in the second last line;

“…Respect less labor importune cry and call…”

To emphasize that, David understands of what God demands of him. That serving him requires of him to respect the subjects and the kind of work he was doing to the lord without impunity. Similarly, the lines;

[100] “Measureless mercy…shall not assault …”

Metre has been used to indicate God’s unlimited forgiveness to various sins committed by individuals who turn to him no matter how lost they are in sins.

  1. Rhyme diction

Rhyme diction refers to ability of a literature piece to convey the tone in its content. Tone may be expressed in passing the message of fear, melancholy, joy among other types of tones. Tone in poems and literature helps to influence the emotional effect beyond the main messages or mere sounds. Some forms of write ups can help reveal the kind of character or persona in the arts. For example, in psalms 51 provided,

From lines 8 and 9 “…for his mercy…do away my sin…”

The persona has an apologetic tone for sins committed. He is remorseful to his acts and so he is seeking forgiveness from God. Similarly from the line;

[20] “…For none can cure …sight of man…”

The tone is bitter and shows indications of disappointment that no one is available to correct or treat the sins committed. The persona is lamenting that many faults are committed and no one seems to be available to amend them other than God himself. Moreover from the line;

[60] “…my tongue shall praise…Praise true…”

The rhyme diction is that of contentment after the persona’s sins have been forgiven by his God, he will use his tongue to praise and use his mouth to spread the gospel. The persona seems to use this tone to show that there is hope for all sinners so long as they repent and ask for forgiveness from God. There are possibilities that the sinners can use their abilities and God given features, to spread the gospel to other sinners as to deliver them from their bondage. God is more than pleased when sinners humble before him and they accept him. As depicted from the line

[60] “… Lord liketh… in humble wise … pleasant host”

The tone is significant in passing out the main theme in the write up or what the author intended to convey to the readers of the verses or literature piece.


  1. Use of rhyming words

Rhyming words are used to create some rhythm in the work of literature and to make art work to be more interesting to read due to its good flow. Rhyming words are used in songs to enhance the flow of sounds and musicality as to create some rhythm. This is what builds the songs and poems in most occasions. There is use of internal and external rhyming words which appear in the middle of a line or at the end of the line respectfully. In the above verses of psalms 51 there is much use of rhyming words to create a flow of the message or to give emphasis on the weight of the subject matter. For instance;

[1] “…grace                            “…bountiful”                                      “…end”

“…brace                             “…wonderful”                                    “…extend”


The above are external rhyming words which have been used to show the magnitude of God’s doings. The persona uses these words at the end the lines to heighten the tone of remorsefulness and plea for forgiveness. The sins have entangled the persona to an extent that he is realizing the magnitude of God’s love and understanding when his people come back to him in repentance. Through the rhyming words the persona is showing how deep he was into sins and he lost he was without recognizing God’s ability. Initially, he seems to have not understood God’s ability. It has now come to his realization what God is capable of doing.



  1. Imagery

Imagery is used by poetics through application of images, word pictures and association of colors to convey a particular message to the reader or the audience. Poet uses imagery to express intends, or emotions hence understanding how they are used enables the reader to have an in depth understanding of the piece of literature. For example in the psalms 51 provided there are different types of imageries used. The imageries applied include, assonance, consonance, similes, and metaphors. In the lines;

[20] “…just…judged…justice…”

The author has used consonance, which is the repetition of consonant sounds, to emphasize the persona’s weight on his plea for forgiveness. From the consonance, the persona who is David seems to be assuring God that if his sins are pardoned he promises to remain pure and clean from any other sinful act. David promises to keep to his word through the grace of God.

In addition, another form of imagery used is assonance which is the repetition of vowel sounds. For example;

[30] “…For lo, thou lovest…doth…most…”

There is repetition of vowel ‘o’ to emphasize the desires of God. The persona David stresses that God loves truth of the heart and fidelity among the people. David wishes and asks God to grant him the will to live by the truth without deviating away from righteousness.

[30] “…flesh…me apart…”

The line above; supports the use of assonance in driving the message of repentance from the desires of the flesh which are trying to bond him to the sinful life. Besides, from the line;

[40] “…O Lord…”

…helps the reader to identify who the persona is trying to address his grievances. The reader is able to identify that the persona is addressing God and that David is repenting to his Maker for atrocities committed.

Furthermore some other images of color have been used to help the reader understand clearly the demands of the persona. For example;

[40] “…Shall be White…”

The color white has been used to indicate faultlessness of the persona once his sins are forgiven. David will be clean of any sins if God forgives him his sins. White in most cases in life depicts peace and tidiness. Beside the color used, there is a simile used in the same stanza;

[40] “…more than snow…”

Most readers understand the color of snow which very white without any spot. When the persona is cleansed more than snow it implies that God can forgive any sinner and you become as pure as possible so long as one does not backslides into sin. David asks God to cleanse him to be cleaner than snow. Hence the image of color enables the reader to comprehend the seriousness of the persona in his repentance.

Another color used is dark which is similar to black. The color shows negativity and vices which are desired by neither God nor any other person who lives according to set virtues.

[100] “…dark side…”

[110]”…respect less labor…there withal.”

From the above lines used in the verses, they depict what darkness can hide, darkness hide the truth, covers different wrongs and impunities which causes anguish and suffering for the oppressed. This is what the persona is trying to reveal. He wants God to deliver him from darkness to the light where there is light of grace. From here he will begin his journey of instilling hope unto those in tears and those who need mercies.

From the verses provided, imagery application has been intensely used as to help understand the tone of the persona and his commitment to keep to the promises he is making to God once his sins are forgiven.


From the above analysis, it is evident that stylistic devices are important in understanding the deeper meaning of a given piece of literature. They can be used in different styles which suits the author as to how he wants to portray the persona and other characters in the literature. Imagery and metre has been extensively used which helps to understand the tone, mood and emotions of the persona. Besides, the stylistic devices have helped the reader in identifying who is the persona and why he is asking for forgiveness and what the persona is intending to do he his sins are forgiven. Rhyming words have also been extensively used, throughout the psalms 51 to firmly notify the reader of the magnitude of God’s work into accepting his people back through repentance.



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