Tag Archives: George Herbert
My God, the poor expressions of my Love
Which warm these lines, and serve them up to Thee
Are so, as for the present I did move,
Or rather as Thou movedst me.
But what shall issue, whether these my words
Shall help another, but my judgement be;
As a burst fowling-piece doth save the birds
But kill the man, is sealed with Thee.
For who can tell, though Thou has died to win
And wed my soul in glorious paradise;
Whether my many crimes and use of sin
May yet forbid the banes and bliss.
Only my soul hangs on Thy promises
With face and hands clinging unto Thy breast,
Clinging and crying, crying without cease,
Thou art my rock, Thou art my rest.
–George Herbert, “Perseverance,” in Complete English Poems (London: Penguin, 1991/2004), 192-193.
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 lack’d anything.
‘A guest,’ I answer’d, ‘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 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.
The God of love my shepherd is,
And He that doth me feed:
While He is mine, and I am His,
What can I want or need?
He leads me to the tender grass,
Where I both feed and rest;
Then to the streams that gently pass;
In both I have the best.
Or if I stray, He doth convert
And bring my mind in frame:
And all this not for my desert,
But for His holy name.
Yea, in death’s shady black abode
Well may I walk, not fear:
For Thou art with me; and Thy rod
To guide, Thy staff to bear.
Nay, Thou dost make me sit and dine,
Ev’n in my enemies sight:
My head with oil, my cup with wine
Runs over day and night.
Surely Thy sweet and wondrous love
Shall measure all my days;
And as it never shall remove,
So neither shall my praise.