Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Casting my mind back to George Herbert

He was one of my favorite old poets. I still remember The Collar, reading it for some English class or another in college, sucked in and sucker-punched by the last two lines. I felt faint in church as a girl, saw the black dots floating in front of my eyes as I stood and sat and stood and kneeled again. What did I love in such seriousness? Where did it fly? 

Prayer (I)

Prayer the church's banquet, angel's age,
         God's breath in man returning to his birth,
         The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav'n and earth
Engine against th' Almighty, sinner's tow'r,
         Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
         The six-days world transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
         Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
         Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
         Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul's blood,
         The land of spices; something understood.

George Herbert (1593-1633)


  1. As an old country woman, let me just say that I find your words more to my ken than George Herbert's, fine though they may be.

    1. But you've got to love prayer as "a kind of tune, which all things hear and fear."

  2. My favorite metaphysical poet was John Donne, especially this sonnet, starting with, "Batter my heart, three-person'd God" and ending with "Except you enthrall me, never shall be free, / Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me." I preferred Donne's passion over Herbert's quiet elegance. And like Ms. Moon, your words are very much "to my ken." That's a beautiful photo of another beautiful LA sunset. And that "kind of tune, which all things hear and fear," sounds like the music of the spheres, another concept that delighted me when I was studying the old poets so many years ago. Thanks for a hit from the past.

  3. Thank you for your coments and following me! I follow you too, i love your style! kisses!!
    Love text messages

  4. I read this somehow as totally contemporary - was amazed to see the provenance. Beautiful, as always, thanks!



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