Tag Archives: George Herbert

Christian Poems IX: Hopkins, Herbert, Milton

Dry roots (photo by costi, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/957763).

Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord

By Gerard Manley Hopkins

Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.
Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must
Disappointment all I endeavor end?

Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me?  Oh, the sots and thralls of lust
Do in spare house more thrive than I that spend,

Sir, life upon thy cause.  See, banks and brakes
Now, leaved how thick! laced they are again
With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes

Them; birds build–but not I build; no, but strain,
Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
Mine, O thou lord of life, sen my roots rain.

In The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, WH Gardner and NH MacKenzie, ed.s (Oxford Univ Press 1967), 106-107.

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Denial

By George Herbert

[Note:  The original poem has various justifications that could not be reproduced here, which does take away from the poem a bit, in my view, so the reader may want to find a printed version of this.]

When my devotions could not pierce
Thy silent ears;
Then was my heart broken, as was my verse;
My breast was full of fears,
And disorder.

My bent thoughts, like a brittle bow,
Did fly asunder:
Each took his way; some would to pleasure go,
Some to the wars and thunder
Of alarms.

As good go anywhere, they say
As to benumb
Both knees and heart, in crying night and day,
Come, come, my God, O come,
But no hearing.

O that thou shouldst give dust a tongue
To cry to thee,
And then not hear it crying! all day long
My heart was in my knee,
But no hearing.

Therefore my soul lay out of sight,
Untuned, unstrung;
My feeble spirit, unable to look right,
Like a nipped blossom, hung
Discontented.

O cheer and tune my heartless breast,
Defer no time;
That so thy favours granting my request,
They and my mind may chime,
And mend my rhyme.

In A Book of Religious Verse, H Gardner, ed. (Oxford Univ Press 1972), 124-125.

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When I Consider How My Light Is Spent

By John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent

To serve therewith My Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”
I [foolishly] ask; but Patience to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best.  His state

Is kingly.  Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

In The One Year Book of Poetry, P Comfort and D Partner, ed.s (Tyndale House Pub.s 1999), May 16 page.

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Christian Poems VII: Donne, Herbert

Heart aflame (Vicki Priest).

HOLY SONNETS (vi)

By John Donne (1572 – 1631)

Batter my heart, three-person’d God; for, you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy to me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am beroth’d unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

In The Oxford Book of Christian Verse.  D. Cecil, ed. (Clarendon Press 1940), p 87.

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LOVE II

By George Herbert (1593 – 1633)

Immortal Heat, O let they 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 thee way.
Then shall our hearts pant [for] thee; then shall our brain
All her inventions on thine Altar lay,
And there in hymns send back thy fire again.

Our eyes shall see thee, which before saw dust;
Dust blown by wit, till that they both were blind:
Thou shalt recover all they goods in kind,
Who wert disseized by usurping lust:

All knees shall bow to thee, all wits shall rise,
And praise him who did make and mend our eyes.

In The One Year Book of Poetry.  P. Comfort and D Partner, ed.s (Tyndale House Pub.s 1999), Feb. 14.

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“BUT ART THOU COME, DEAR SAVIOR?”

By Anonymous

But art Thou come, dear Saviour? hath Thy love
Thus made Thee stoop, and leave Thy throne above

Thy lofty heavens, and thus Thyself to dress
In dust to visit mortals?  Could no less

A condescension serve? and after all
The mean reception of a cratch and stall?

Dear Lord, I’ll fetch Thee thence!  I have a room
(‘Tis poor, but ’tis my best) if Thou wilt come

Within so small a cell, where I would fain
Mine and the world’s Redeemer entertain,

I mean, my heart:  ’tis sluttish, I confess,
And will not mend Thy lodging, Lord, unless

Thou send before Thy harbinger, I mean
Thy pure and purging Grace, to make it clean

And sweep its nasty corners; then I’ll try
to wash it also with a weeping eye.

And when ’tis swept and wash’d, I then will go
And, with Thy leave, I’ll fetch some flowers that grow

In Thine own garden, Faith and Love, to Thee;
With these I’ll dress it up, and these shall be

My rosemary and bays.  Yet when my best
Is done, the room’s not fit for such a guest.

But here’s the cure; Thy presence, Lord, alone
Will make a stall a court, a cratch a throne.

In The Oxford Book of Christian Verse.  D. Cecil, ed. (Clarendon Press 1940), pp 260-261.

Christian Poems IV: For Simone Weil

LOVE III

George Herbert

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 anything.

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 marred 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.

.

In A Book of Religious Verse, H Gardner, ed. (Oxford Univ Press 1972), 132.

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Simone Weil (1909-1943)

Vicki Priest (This poem is included in the 2014 anthology, The Chorus, compiled and translated into Korean by Aeire Choi.  Poems are in both Korean and English.  The Chorus is a truly beautiful book of spiritual poetry, and well made [it’s heavy!].  Available through Aladin.)

God is pure beauty.  The longing
To love the beauty of the world in
A human being is essentially
The longing for the Incarnation.
What we love is perfect joy itself.

It is not in our power to travel
In a vertical direction.  Christ
Himself came down and took possession
Of me.  I was able to rise above this
Wretched flesh, to leave it to suffer by itself.

Something stronger than I was
Compelled me to go down on my knees.
It is not my business to think about
Myself.  My business is to think about God.
Only obedience is invulnerable for all time.

I always believed that the instant
Of death is the center and object of life.
Every time I think of the crucifixion
Of Christ I commit the sin of envy.
The future is still to be feared.

The danger is not in the soul’s doubt that
There is bread, but, by a lie, to persuade itself
It is not hungry.  Christ is our bread.  If one
Turns aside from him to go toward the truth,
One will not go far before falling into his arms.

.

This “poem” consists of quotes by Simone Weil.

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IN MEMORIAM

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Love is and was my lord and king,
    And in his presence I attend
    To hear the tidings of my friend,
Which every hour his couriers bring.

Love is and was my king and lord,
    And will be, though as yet I keep
    Within the court on earth, and sleep
Encompassed by his faithful guard,

And hear at times a sentinel
    Who moves about from place to place,
    And whispers to the worlds of space,
In the deep of night, that all is well.
.

In The One Year Book of Poetry, P Comfort & D Partner, ed.s (Tyndale House Pub.s 1999), “Feb. 11” page.