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Let thy blessèd Spirit bear a part/and make up our defects with his sweet art

Three poems for Easter by George Herbert

George Herbert, one of the leading “metaphysical poets” of the 17th Century
George Herbert, one of the leading “metaphysical poets” of the 17th Century

Easter

  • Rise, heart, thy lord is risen. Sing his praise
  • Without delays,
  • Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
  • With him may’st rise:
  • That, as his death calcinèd thee to dust,
  • His life may make thee gold, and, much more, just.
  • Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
  • With all thy art,
  • The cross taught all wood to resound his name
  • Who bore the same.
  • His stretchèd sinews taught all strings what key
  • Is best to celebrate this most high day.
  • Consort, both heart and lute, and twist a song
  • Pleasant and long;
  • Or, since all music is but three parts vied
  • And multiplied
  • Oh let thy blessèd Spirit bear a part,
  • And make up our defects with his sweet art.

Easter Wings

  • Lord, Who createdst man in wealth and store,
  • Though foolishly he lost the same,
  • Decaying more and more,
  • Till he became
  • Most poore:
  • With Thee
  • O let me rise,
  • As larks, harmoniously,
  • And sing this day Thy victories:
  • Then shall the fall further the flight in me.
  • My tender age in sorrow did beginne;
  • And still with sicknesses and shame
  • Thou didst so punish sinne,
  • That I became
  • Most thinne.
  • With Thee
  • Let me combine,
  • And feel this day Thy victorie;
  • For, if I imp my wing on Thine,
  • Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

Prayer (I)

  • Prayer the Church’s banquet, angels’ 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 tower,
  • 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) was a Welsh poet and Anglican priest who is considered one of the leading “metaphysical poets” of the 17th Century, a group that also included Herbert’s contemporary and fellow cleric, John Donne. Considered one of the greatest of English religious poets, Herbert also stands out as a literary great in English prosody. Besides full command of the English language, Herbert also exhibits stunning feats of imagination in his poems, especially in his experiments with verse forms — including pattern poems, whereby a poem’s physical shape on the page, sometimes printed sideways, matches the poem’s subject matter. “Easter Wings” printed above is an example of this sort of pattern poem.

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George Herbert, one of the leading “metaphysical poets” of the 17th Century
George Herbert, one of the leading “metaphysical poets” of the 17th Century

Easter

  • Rise, heart, thy lord is risen. Sing his praise
  • Without delays,
  • Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
  • With him may’st rise:
  • That, as his death calcinèd thee to dust,
  • His life may make thee gold, and, much more, just.
  • Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
  • With all thy art,
  • The cross taught all wood to resound his name
  • Who bore the same.
  • His stretchèd sinews taught all strings what key
  • Is best to celebrate this most high day.
  • Consort, both heart and lute, and twist a song
  • Pleasant and long;
  • Or, since all music is but three parts vied
  • And multiplied
  • Oh let thy blessèd Spirit bear a part,
  • And make up our defects with his sweet art.

Easter Wings

  • Lord, Who createdst man in wealth and store,
  • Though foolishly he lost the same,
  • Decaying more and more,
  • Till he became
  • Most poore:
  • With Thee
  • O let me rise,
  • As larks, harmoniously,
  • And sing this day Thy victories:
  • Then shall the fall further the flight in me.
  • My tender age in sorrow did beginne;
  • And still with sicknesses and shame
  • Thou didst so punish sinne,
  • That I became
  • Most thinne.
  • With Thee
  • Let me combine,
  • And feel this day Thy victorie;
  • For, if I imp my wing on Thine,
  • Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

Prayer (I)

  • Prayer the Church’s banquet, angels’ 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 tower,
  • 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) was a Welsh poet and Anglican priest who is considered one of the leading “metaphysical poets” of the 17th Century, a group that also included Herbert’s contemporary and fellow cleric, John Donne. Considered one of the greatest of English religious poets, Herbert also stands out as a literary great in English prosody. Besides full command of the English language, Herbert also exhibits stunning feats of imagination in his poems, especially in his experiments with verse forms — including pattern poems, whereby a poem’s physical shape on the page, sometimes printed sideways, matches the poem’s subject matter. “Easter Wings” printed above is an example of this sort of pattern poem.

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