Archive for the ‘George Herbert’ Category
Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked any thing.
“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here:”
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”
“Truth Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it does deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat:”
So I did sit
George Herbert, Love (III), in The Temple (1633).
Immortal Heat, O let your greater flame
Attract the lesser to it: Let those fires,
Which shall consume the world, first make it tame;
And kindle in our hearts such true desires,
As may consume our lusts, and make you way.
Then shall our hearts pant thee; then shall our brain
All her invention on your Altar lay,
And there in hymns send back your fire again:
Our eyes shall see you, which before saw dust;
Dust blown by wit, till that they both were blind:
You shall recover all your goods in kind,
Who were diseaséd by usurping lust:
All knees shall bow to you; all wits shall rise,
And praise him who did make and mend our eyes.
George Herbert, Love II, in The Temple (1633).
Here is a highly recommended link to a site that has selected and helpfully arranged daily readings from George Herbert’s The Temple (1633) for Lent.
Maybe the best recommendation of Herbert’s poetry (certainly the best one I know of) is the effect that his writing had on C. S. Lewis, in the last days before his conversion, when it seemed to him that all his favorite authors were lining up to take whacks at his dying atheism:
. . . the most alarming of all was George Herbert. Here was a man who seemed to me to excel all the writers I had read in conveying the very quality of life as we actually live it from moment to moment; but the wretched fellow, instead of doing it all directly, insisted on mediating it through what I would still have called the ‘Christian mythology’. . . .
C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy 214 (1956).
For Good Friday, here is an excerpt from George Herbert’s poem “The Sacrifice,” which was first published in The Temple in 1633:
O all ye who passe by, behold and see; Man stole the fruit, but I must climbe the tree; The tree of life to all, but onely me: Was ever grief like mine? Lo, here I hang, charg’d with a world of sinne, The greater world o’ th’ two; for that came in By words, but this by sorrow I must win: Was ever grief like mine? Such sorrow as, if sinfull man could feel, Or feel his part, he would not cease to kneel. Till all were melted, though he were all steel: Was ever grief like mine? But, O my God, my God! why leav’st thou me, The sonne, in whom thou dost delight to be? My God, my God —— Never was grief like mine. Shame tears my soul, my bodie many a wound; Sharp nails pierce this, but sharper that confound; Reproches, which are free, while I am bound. Was ever grief like mine? Now heal thy self, Physician; now come down. Alas! I did so, when I left my crown And fathers smile for you, to feel his frown: Was ever grief like mine? In healing not my self, there doth consist All that salvation, which ye now resist; Your safetie in my sicknesse doth subsist: Was ever grief like mine? Betwixt two theeves I spend my utmost breath, As he that for some robberie suffereth. Alas! what have I stollen from you? Death. Was ever grief like mine?