George Herbert

POETRY: Confession (O What A Cunning Guest) by George Herbert

March 13, 2019

O what a cunning guest Is this same grief! within my heart I made Closets; and in them many a chest; And, like a master in my trade, In those chests, boxes; in each box, a till: Yet grief knows all, and enters when he will. No screw, no piercer can Into a piece of timber work and wind, As God’s afflictions into man, When he a torture hath designed. They are too subtle for the subtlest hearts; And fall, like rheums, upon the tend’rest parts. We are the earth; and they, Like moles within us, heave, and cast about: And till they foot and clutch their prey, They never cool, much less give out. No smith can make such locks but they have keys: Closets are halls to them; and hearts, high-ways. Only an open breast Doth shut them out, so that [...]

POETRY: Matins by George Herbert

February 7, 2018

I cannot ope mine eyes, But thou art ready there to catch My morning-soul and sacrifice: Then we must needs for that day make a match. My God, what is a heart? Silver, or gold, or precious stone, Or star, or rainbow, or a part Of all these things, or all of them in one? My God, what is a heart, That thou shouldst it so eye, and woo, Pouring upon it all thy art, As if that thou hadst nothing else to do? Indeed man’s whole estate Amounts (and richly) to serve thee: He did not heav’n and earth create, Yet studies them, not him by whom they be. Teach me thy love to know; That this new light, which now I see, May both the work and workman show: Then by a sunbeam I will climb to [...]

POETRY: Complaining by George Herbert

August 15, 2017

But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied. They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is. Forsake me not, O Lord: O my God, be not far from me. Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation. (Psalm 38:19-22) Do not beguile my heart, Because thou art My power and wisdom. Put me not to shame, Because I am Thy clay that weeps, thy dust that calls. Thou art the Lord of glory: The deed and story Are both thy due: but I a silly fly That live or die According as the weather falls. Art thou all justice, Lord? Shows not thy word More attributes? Am I all throat or eye, To weep or cry? Have I no parts but those of grief? Let not thy wrathful [...]

POETRY: The Collar by George Herbert

July 29, 2017

I struck the board, and cry’d, No more. I will abroad. What? shall I ever sigh and pine? My lines and life are free; free as the rode, Loose as the winde, as large as store. Shall I be still in suit? Have I no harvest but a thorn To let me bloud, and not restore What I have lost with cordiall fruit? Sure there was wine Before my sighs did drie it: there was corn Before my tears did drown it. Is the yeare onely lost to me? Have I no bayes to crown it? No flowers, no garlands gay? all blasted? All wasted? Not so, my heart: but there is fruit, And thou hast hands. Recover all thy sigh-blown age On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute Of what is fit and not. Forsake thy cage, Thy rope of sands, Which pettie thoughts have made, and made [...]

POETRY: Hope by George Herbert

July 23, 2017

I gave to Hope a watch of mine: but he An anchor gave to me. Then an old prayer-book I did present: And he an optic sent. With that I gave a vial full of tears: But he a few green ears: Ah Loiterer! I’ll no more, no more I’ll bring: I did expect a [...]

POETRY: Marie Magdalene by George Herbert

July 12, 2017

When blessed Marie wiped her Savior’s feet (Whose precepts she had trampled on before) And wore them for a jewel on her head, Showing his steps should be the street, Wherein she thenceforth evermore With pensive humbleness would live and tread; She being stained herself, why did she strive To make him clean, who could not be defiled? Why kept she not her tears for her own faults, And not his feet? Though we could dive In tears like seas, our sins are piled Deeper than they, in words, and works, and thoughts. Dear soul, she knew who did vouchsafe and deign To bear her filth; and that her sins did dash Ev’n God himself; wherefore she was not loath, As she had brought wherewith to stain, So to bring in wherewith to wash: and yet [...]

POETRY: The Invitation by George Herbert

July 8, 2017

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. (Isaiah 55:1-2) Come ye hither all, whose taste Is our waste; Save your cost, and mend your fare. God is here prepared and dressed, And the feast, God, in whom all dainties are. Come ye hither all, whom wine Doth define, Naming you not to your good: Weep what ye have drunk amiss, And drink this, Which before ye drink is blood. Come ye hither all, whom pain Doth arraign, [...]

POETRY: Man by George Herbert

July 2, 2017

My God, I heard this day That none doth build a stately habitation But he that means to dwell therein. What house more stately hath there been, Or can be, than is man, to whose creation All things are in decay? For man is ev’ry thing, And more: he is a tree, yet bears more fruit; A beast, yet is, or should be, more; Reason and speech we only bring; Parrots may thank us if they are not mute, They go upon the score. Man is all symmetry, Full of proportions, one limb to another, And all to all the world besides; Each part may call the furthest brother, For head with foot hath private amity, And both with moons and tides. Nothing hath got so far But man hath caught and kept it as his prey; His eyes dismount the highest star; He is in [...]

POETRY: Church-Monuments by George Herbert

June 23, 2017

While that my soul repairs to her devotion, Here I entomb my flesh, that it betimes May take acquaintance of this heap of dust; To which the blast of death’s incessant motion, Fed with the exhalation of our crimes, Drives all at last. Therefore I gladly trust My body to this school, that it may learn To spell its elements, and find its birth Written in dusty heraldry and lines; Which dissolution sure doth best discern, Comparing dust with dust, and earth with earth. These laugh at Jet and Marble put for signs To sever the good fellowship of dust, And spoil the meeting. What shall point out them, When they shall bow, and kneel, and fall down flat To kiss those heaps which now they have in trust? Dear flesh, while I do pray, learn here [...]

POETRY: Clasping Of Hands by George Herbert

June 17, 2017

Lord, Thou art mine, and I am Thine, If mine I am; and Thine much more Then I or ought or can be mine. Yet to be Thine doth me restore, So that again I now am mine, And with advantage mine the more, Since this being mine brings with it Thine, And Thou with me dost Thee restore: If I without Thee would be mine, I neither should be mine nor Thine. Lord, I am Thine, and Thou art mine; So mine Thou art, that something more I may presume Thee mine then Thine, For Thou didst suffer to restore Not Thee, but me, and to be mine: And with advantage mine the more, Since Thou in death wast none of Thine, Yet then as mine didst me restore: O, be mine still; still make me Thine; Or rather make no Thine and [...]

POETRY: Lent by George Herbert

March 9, 2017

Welcome dear feast of Lent: who loves not thee, He loves not Temperance, or Authority, But is composed of passion. The Scriptures bid us fast; the Church says, now: Give to your Mother, what you would allow To every Corporation. It ‘s true, we cannot reach Christ’s fortieth day; Yet to go part of that religious way, Is better than to rest: We cannot reach our Savior’s purity; Yet are bid, Be holy ev’n as he. In both let’s do our best. Who goes in the way which Christ has gone, Is much more sure to meet with him, than one Who travels the by-ways: Perhaps my God, though he be far before, May turn, and take me by the hand, and more May strengthen my decays. Yet Lord instruct us to improve our fast By starving sin [...]

POETRY: The Search, by George Herbert

February 22, 2017

Whither, O whither art Thou fled, My Lord, my Love ? My searches are my daily bread, Yet never prove. My knees pierce the earth, mine eyes the sky; And yet the sphere And center both to me deny That Thou art there. Yet can I mark how herbs below Grow green and gay, As if to meet Thee they did know, While I decay. Yet can I mark how stars above Simper and shine, As having keys unto Thy love, While poor I pine. I sent a sigh to seek Thee out, Deep drawn in pain, Winged like an arrow; but my scout Returns in vain. I turned another (having store) Into a groan, Because the search was dumb before; But all was one. Lord, dost Thou some new fabric mold Which favor wins, And keeps Thee present; leaving the old Unto their sins? Where is my God ? [...]

POETRY: Matins, by George Herbert

February 15, 2017

I cannot ope mine eyes, But thou art ready there to catch My morning-soul and sacrifice: Then we must needs for that day make a match. My God, what is a heart? Silver, or gold, or precious stone, Or star, or rainbow, or a part Of all these things or all of them in one? My God, what is a heart? That thou shouldst it so eye, and woo, Pouring upon it all thy art, As if that thou hadst nothing else to do? Indeed man’s whole estate Amounts (and richly) to serve thee: He did not heav’n and earth create, Yet studies them, not him by whom they be. Teach me thy love to know; That this new light, which now I see, May both the work and workman show: Then by a sunbeam I will climb to [...]

POETRY: Aaron, by George Herbert

February 1, 2017

Holiness on the head, Light and perfections on the breast, Harmonious bells below, raising the dead To lead them unto life and rest: Thus are true Aarons dressed. Profaneness in my head, Defects and darkness in my breast, A noise of passions ringing me for dead Unto a place where is no rest: Poor priest, thus am I dressed. Only another head I have, another heart and breast, Another music, making live, not dead, Without whom I could have no rest: In him I am well dressed. Christ is my only head, My alone-only heart and breast, My only music, striking me ev’n dead, That to the old man I may rest, And be in him new-dressed. So, holy in my head, Perfect and light in my dear breast, My doctrine tun’d by Christ (who is not dead, But [...]

POETRY: Christmas by George Herbert

December 26, 2016

All after pleasures as I rid one day, My horse and I, both tir’d, bodie and minde, With full crie of affections, quite astray, I took up in the next inne I could finde. There when I came, whom found I but my deare, My dearest Lord, expecting till the grief Of pleasures brought me to him, readie there To be all passengers most sweet relief? O Thou, whose glorious, yet contracted light, Wrapt in nights mantle, stole into a manger; Since my dark soul and brutish is thy right, To Man of all beasts be not thou a stranger: Furnish & deck my soul, that thou mayst have A better lodging then a rack or grave. The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be? My God, no hymne for thee? My soul’s a shepherd too; a flock it feeds Of thoughts, [...]

POETRY: The Pilgrimage, by George Herbert

September 28, 2016

I traveled on, seeing the hill, where lay My expectation. A long it was and weary way. The gloomy cave of Desperation I left on the one, and on the other side The rock of Pride. And so I came to Fancy’s meadow strowed With many a flower: Fain would I here have made abode, But I was quicken’d by my hour. So to Care’s copse I came, and there got through With much ado. That led me to the wild of Passion, which Some call the wold; A wasted place, but sometimes rich. Here I was robbed of all my gold, Save one good Angel, which a friend had tied Close to my side. At length I got unto the gladsome hill, Where lay my hope, Where lay my heart; and climbing still, When I had gain’d the brow and top, A lake of brackish waters on the ground [...]

POETRY: Repentance by George Herbert

August 24, 2016

Lord, I confess my sin is great; Great is my sin. Oh! gently treat With thy quick flow’r, thy momentany bloom; Whose life still pressing Is one undressing, A steady aiming at a tomb. Man’s age is two hours’ work, or three: Each day doth round about us see. Thus are we to delights: but we are all To sorrows old, If life be told From what life feeleth, Adam’s fall. O let thy height of mercy then Compassionate short-breathed men. Cut me not off for my most foul transgression: I do confess My foolishness; My God, accept of my confession. Sweeten at length this bitter bowl, Which thou hast pour’d into my soul; Thy wormwood turn to health, winds to fair weather: For if thou stay, I and this day, As we did rise, we [...]

POETRY: Lucifer In Starlight by George Meredith

August 17, 2016

On a starr’d night Prince Lucifer uprose. Tired of his dark dominion swung the fiend Above the rolling ball in cloud part screen’d, Where sinners hugg’d their spectre of repose. Poor prey to his hot fit of pride were those. And now upon his western wing he lean’d, Now his huge bulk o’er Afric’s sands careen’d, Now the black planet shadow’d Arctic snows. Soaring through wider zones that prick’d his scars With memory of the old revolt from Awe, He reach’d a middle height, and at the stars, Which are the brain of heaven, he look’d, and sank. Around the ancient track march’d, rank on rank, The army of unalterable [...]

POETRY: Prayer (II), by George Herbert

June 22, 2016

Of what an easy quick access, My blessed Lord, art thou! how suddenly May our requests thine ear invade! To show that state dislikes not easiness, If I but lift mine eyes, my suit is made: Thou canst no more not hear, than thou canst die. Of what supreme almighty power Is thy great arm which spans the east and west, And tacks the center to the sphere! By it do all things live their measured hour: We cannot ask the thing, which is not there, Blaming the shallowness of our request. Of what unmeasurable love Art thou possessed, who, when thou couldst not die, Wert fain to take our flesh and curse, And for our sakes in person sin reprove, That by destroying that which tied thy purse, Thou mightst make way for liberality! Since then these three [...]

POETRY: Whitsunday, by George Herbert

May 18, 2016

Listen sweet Dove unto my song, And spread thy golden wings in me; Hatching my tender heart so long, Till it get wing, and flie away with thee. Where is that fire which once descended On thy Apostles? thou didst then Keep open house, richly attended, Feasting all comers by twelve chosen men. Such glorious gifts thou didst bestow, That th’ earth did like a heav’n appeare; The starres were coming down to know If they might mend their wages, and serve here. The sunne, which once did shine alone, Hung down his head, and wisht for night, When he beheld twelve sunnes for one Going about the world, and giving light. But since those pipes of gold, which brought That cordiall water to our ground, Were cut and martyr’d by the fault Of those, [...]

POETRY: Grace by George Herbert

June 18, 2014

My stock lies dead, and no increase Doth my dull husbandry improve: O let thy graces without cease Drop from above! If still the sun should hide his face, Thy house would but a dungeon prove, Thy works night’s captives: O let grace Drop from above! The dew doth every morning fall; And shall the dew out-strip thy dove? The dew, for which grass cannot call, Drop from above. Death is still working like a mole, And digs my grave at each remove: Let grace work too, and on my soul Drop from above. Sin is still hammering my heart Unto a hardness, void of love: Let suppling grace, to cross his art, Drop from above. O come! for thou dost know the way. Or if to me thou wilt not move, Remove me, where I need not say, Drop from above. [...]

POETRY: Sunday, by George Herbert

August 12, 2012

O day most calm, most bright, The fruit of this, the next world’s bud, Th’ indorsement of supreme delight, Writ by a friend, and with his blood; The couch of time, care’s balm and bay, The week were dark, but for thy light: Thy torch doth show the way. The other days and thou Make up one man, whose face thou art, Knocking at heaven with thy brow. The worky-days are the back-part; The burden of the week lies there, Making the whole to stoop and bow, Till thy release appear. Man had straight forward gone To endless death; but thou dost pull And turn us round to look on one Whom, if we were not very dull, We could not choose but look on still; Since there is no place so alone The which he doth not fill. Sundays the pillars [...]

PRAYER: The Foundations of Prayer, by Philip and Carol Zaleski

August 2, 2012

From Prayer: A History Prayer encompasses heaven and earth; it tangles angels, paramecia, and humans in its cosmic web.  Prayer can be brief — “short prayers penetrate heaven,” says the anonymous author of the mystical classic, The Cloud of Unknowing, who recommends the one-syllable exclamation, “God!” as the ideal prayer.  Or prayers can be long, stretching for months on end, interrupted only by essential needs of the body, as in the lives of some religious ascetics.  Prayer can take place alone or in a vast fellowship, on the deathbed, or in the wedding chamber.  Prayer’s scope extends from the private ceremonies of the morning toilet to the public arenas of politics and war.  Prayer can be a [...]

POETRY: Four Poems On Love, by George Herbert

August 1, 2012

Love I Immortal Love, author of this great frame, Sprung from that beauty which can never fade; How hath man parcel’d out thy glorious name, And thrown it on that dust which thou hast made, While mortal love doth all the title gain! Which siding with invention, they together Bear all the sway, possessing heart and brain, (Thy workmanship) and give thee share in neither. Wit fancies beauty, beauty raiseth wit: The world is theirs; they two play out the game, Thou standing by: and though thy glorious name Wrought our deliverance from th’ infernal pit, Who sings thy praise? only a scarf or glove Doth warm our hands, and make them write of love. Love II Immortal Heat, Oh let thy greater flame Attract the lesser to it: let those fires, [...]