Monday, 29 February 2016


He knew the ways of learning, to create
Plush tapestries of words the plush enjoyed,
But found the employment did not satisfy,
His gorgeous words returning to him void;
The cross of Jesus crossed and double-crossed;
Affliction turned his pilgrimage through time;
Another Prince's visage was embossed
Upon his coin, and grace repaired his rhyme.
Did the world's bands impinge upon him still?
His sole defence was what his Master said.
And, seeing human meanness and God's will,
"I have", he could exclaim, "another Head".
Since love made all his sours and bitters sweet
His finis was, "Then I did sit and eat".

George Herbert (1593-1633) was a Welsh-born English poet.  After being the university orator of Cambridge he left, after some soul-searching, to become priest of the parish of Bemerton.  His poems were (mainly) unpublished until after his death; he said of the work, ""he shall find in it a picture of the many spiritual conflicts that have passed between God and my soul, before I could subject mine to the will of Jesus, my Master".
I have labelled this a sonnet, although I appreciate it is not quite one; cf Herbert's Josephs coat.


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