Sunday Poem

Keeping these in order, and noting that Herbert used a combination of liturgy and church architecture to structure the poems.

Any poet who can manage to make predestination scan is a master: the archaicism “spittle” means a hostel or respite for the ill and infirm.

The Thanksgiving.

OH King of grief! (a title strange, yet true,
To thee of all kings onely due)
Oh King of wounds! how shall I grieve for thee,
Who in all grief preventest me?
Shall I weep bloud? why, thou hast wept such store
That all thy body was one doore.
Shall I be scourged, floutted, boxed, sold?
’Tis but to tell the tale is told.
My God, my God, why dost thou part from me?
Was such a grief as cannot be.
Shall I then sing, skipping thy doleful storie,
And side with thy triumphant glorie?
Shall thy stokes be my stroking? thorns, my flower?
Thy rod, my posie? crosse, my bower?
But how then shall I imitate thee, and
Copie thy fair, though bloudie hand?
Surely I will revenge me on thy love,
And trie who shall victorious prove.
If thou dost give me wealth, I will restore
All back unto thee by the poore.
If thou dost give me honour, men shall see,
The honour doth belong to thee.
I will not marry; or, if she be mine,
She and her children shall be thine.
My bosome friend, if he blaspheme thy Name,
I will tear thence his love and fame.
One half of me being gone, the rest I give
Unto some Chappell, die or live.
As for thy passion–But of that anon,
When with the other I have done.
For thy predestination I’le contrive,
That three yeares hence, if I survive,
I’le build a spittle, or mend common wayes,
And mend mine own without delayes.
Then I will use the works of thy creation,
As if I us’d them but for fashion.
The world and I will quarrell; and the yeare
Shall not perceive, that I am here.
My musick shall finde thee, and ev’ry string
Shall have his attribute to sing;
That all together may accord in thee,
And prove one God, one harmonie.
If thou shalt give me wit, it shall appeare,
If thou hast give’n it me, ’tis here.
Nay, I will reade thy book, and never move
Till I have found therein thy love,
Thy art of love, which I’le turn back on thee:
O my deare Saviour, Victorie!
Then for thy passion—I will do for that—
Alas, my God, I know not what.

George Herbert, 1633

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