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GEORGE HERBERT

1593-1632

289                                                   Virtue

SWEET day, so cool, so calm, so bright!
    The bridal of the earth and sky
The dew shall weep thy fall to-night;
           For thou must die.
Sweet rose, whose hue angry and brave
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,
Thy root is ever in its grave,
           And thou must die.
Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie,
My music shows ye have your closes,
           And all must die.
Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
Like seasond timber, never gives;
But though the whole world turn to coal,
           Then chiefly lives.

290                                                Easter

I GOT me flowers to straw Thy way,
   I got me boughs off many a tree;
But Thou wast up by break of day,
   And broughtst Thy sweets along with Thee.
Yet though my flowers be lost, they say
   A heart can never come too late;
Teach it to sing Thy praise this day,
   And then this day my life shall date.

291                                               Discipline

THROW away Thy rod,
Throw away Thy wrath:
            O my God,
Take the gentle path!
For my hearts desire
Unto Thine is bent:
            I aspire
To a full consent.
Not a word or look
I affect to own,
           But by book,
And Thy Book alone.
Though I fail, I weep;
Though I halt in pace,
           Yet I creep
To the Throne of Grace.
Then let wrath remove;
Love will do the deed:
           For with Love
Stony hearts will bleed.
Love is swift of foot;
Loves a man of war,
           And can shoot,
And can hit from far.
Who can scape his bow?
That which wrought on Thee,
           Brought Thee low,
Needs must work on me.
Throw away Thy rod;
Though man frailties hath,
          Thou art God:
Throw away Thy wrath!

292                                               A Dialogue

       Man.   SWEETEST Saviour, if my soul
                     Were but worth the having,
                  Quickly should I then control
                  Any thought of waving.
                  But when all my care and pains
                  Cannot give the name of gains
                  To Thy wretch so full of stains,
                  What delight or hope remains?

  Saviour.   What, child, is the balance thine,
                       Thine the poise and measure?
                  If I say, Thou shalt be Mine,
                  Finger not My treasure.
                  What the gains in having thee
                  Do amount to, only He
                  Who for man was sold can see
                  That transferrd th accounts to Me.

        Man.   But as I can see no merit
                      Leading to this favour,
                  So the way to fit me for it
                  Is beyond my savour.1
                 As the reason, then, is Thine,
                 So the way is none of mine;
                  I disclaim the whole design;
                  Sin disclaims and I resign.

  Saviour.   That is all: if that I could
                      Get without repining;
                 And My clay, My creature, would
                  Follow My resigning;
                  That as I did freely part
                 With My glory and desert,
                  Left all joys to feel all smart

     Man.   Ah, no more! Thou breakst my heart!

1 savour: savoir, knowing.

293                                              The Pulley

       WHEN God at first made Man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by
Let us (said He) pour on him all we can;
Let the worlds riches, which dispersàed lie,
       Contract into a span.
        So strength first made a way,
Then beauty flowd, then wisdom, honour, pleasure:
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that, alone of all His treasure,
       Rest in the bottom lay.
       For if I should (said He)
Bestow this jewel also on My creature,
He would adore My gifts instead of Me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature:
       So both should losers be.
       Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessness;
Let him be rich and weary, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
       May toss him to My breast.

294                                                    Love

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 lackd anything.
A guest, I answerd, 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 marrd them: let my shame
       Go where it doth 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.

 

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