Sunday Poetry

This poem came with an editorial note.

Note on Stanzas 2-4: The poem’s interpretation is easier if you consider the spiritual meaning. The concrete version, as the poem “Faith” explains it, is more difficult to believe. See, of course, Matthew 17:20,21. 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. — The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.

The editors have never been anywhere near a revival. I think Herbert had.

Faith.
LOrd, how couldst thou so much appease
Thy wrath for sinne as, when mans sight was dimme,
And could see little, to regard his ease,
And bring by Faith all things to him?

Hungrie I was, and had no meat:
I did conceit a most delicious feast;
I had it straight, and did as truly eat,
As ever did a welcome guest.

There is a rare outlandish root,
Which when I could not get, I thought it here:
That apprehension cur’d so well my foot,
That I can walk to heav’n well neare.

I owed thousands and much more:
I did beleeve that I did nothing owe,
And liv’d accordingly; my creditor
Beleeves so too, and lets me go.

Faith makes me any thing, or all
That I beleeve is in the sacred storie:
And where sinne placeth me in Adams fall,
Faith sets me higher in his glorie.

If I go lower in the book,
What can be lower then the common manger?
Faith puts me there with him, who sweetly took
Our flesh and frailtie, death and danger.

If blisse had lein in art or strength,
None but the wise or strong had gained it:
Where now by Faith all arms are of a length;
One size doth all conditions fit.

A peasant may beleeve as much
As a great Clerk, and reach the highest stature.
Thus dost thou make proud knowledge bend & crouch,
While grace fills up uneven nature.

When creatures had no reall light
Inherent in them, thou didst make the sunne
Impute a lustre, and allow them bright;
And in this shew, what Christ hath done.

That which before was darkned clean
With bushie groves, pricking the lookers eie,
Vanisht away, when Faith did change the scene:
And then appear’d a glorious skie.

What though my bodie runne to dust?
Faith cleaves unto it, counting evr’y grain
With an exact and most particular trust,
Reserving all for flesh again.

George Herbert, The Temple. 1633