Sunday Poetry.

This continues with George Herbert. Denial means that: when your prayers are not answered, and the plans you thought were correct are not coming to fruition. At times it is not that we are bought to where God wants us to be, but we are dragged there.

Herbert knew this. His health was poor, and by choosing the church he gave up status. His life was full of disappointments, short, and obscure.

But is poems of the struggle are eternal.


        When my devotions could not pierce
                                     Thy silent eares;
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 flie asunder:
Each took his way; some would to pleasures go,
                Some to the warres and thunder
                                     Of alarms.

        As good go any where, they say,
                                     As to benumme
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 crie to thee,
And then not heare it crying! all day long
                My heart was in my knee,
                                     But no hearing.

        Therefore my soul lay out of sight,
                                     Untun’d, unstrung:
My feeble spirit, unable to look right,
                Like a nipt blossome, hung

        O cheer and tune my heartlesse breast,
                                     Deferre no time;
That so thy favours granting my request,
                They and my minde may chime,
                                     And mend my ryme.

-- George Herbert, The Temple, 1633

Donne may answer this. His struggles were different. Where Herbert struggled and had trials after early success, Donne relcutantly converted to Anglicanism, married, loved well, and became a famous preacher. The farewell here is to his lover, and to life, and there is partial answer to mystery. The plans of God are not ours, there are things that have to happen that we need to be trained into.

The Puritans and High Church Royalists all knew this: life is short. Love is at best a training school, a reflection. Any love we have is because we are imago dei, and the use of erotic love as a metaphor for spiritual love is as old as Solomon’s Song of Songs.

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning 

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
   And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say
   The breath goes now, and some say, No:

So let us melt, and make no noise,
   No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
'Twere profanation of our joys
   To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears,
   Men reckon what it did, and meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,
   Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers' love
   (Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
   Those things which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,
   That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
   Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
   Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
   Like gold to airy thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
   As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
   To move, but doth, if the other do.

And though it in the center sit,
   Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
   And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
   Like th' other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
   And makes me end where I begun.

-- John Donne. 

There is one error here. One cannot forbid the other mourning. The one who remains feels as if their right arm is missing, and the phantom pain is all so real.