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Posts Tagged ‘George Herbert’

Rise heart; thy Lord is risen.  Sing his praise
                                                  Without delayes,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
                                                  With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more, just.
 
Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
                                                  With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name,
                                                  Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.
 
Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
                                                  Pleasant and long:
Or, since all musick is but three parts vied
                                                  And multiplied,
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.
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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

and eat.

 

George Herbert, Love (III), in The Temple (1633).

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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).

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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).

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