Had to find my copy of George Herbert’s poems today to check a citation in a manuscript, and as often happens when I open up this collection of beauties, I couldn’t put it down without reading beyond my duty. Here’s one of my favorites called “The Holy Scriptures”:
OH Book! infinite sweetnesse! let my heart
Suck ev’ry letter, and a hony gain,
Precious for any grief in any part;
To cleare the breast, to mollifie all pain.
Thou art all health, health thriving till it make
A full eternitie: thou art a masse
Of strange delights, where we may wish & take.
Ladies, look here; this is the thankfull glasse,
That mends the lookers eyes: this is the well
That washes what it shows. Who can indeare
Thy praise too much? thou art heav’ns Lidger here,
Working against the states of death and hell.
Thou art joyes handsell: heav’n lies flat in thee,
Subject to ev’ry mounters bended knee.
OH that I knew how all thy lights combine,
And the configurations of their glorie!
Seeing not onely how each verse doth shine,
But all the constellations of the storie.
This verse marks that, and both do make a motion
Unto a third, that ten leaves off doth lie:
Then as dispersed herbs do watch a potion,
These three make up some Christians destinie:
Such are thy secrets, which my life makes good,
And comments on thee: for in ev’ry thing
Thy words do finde me out, & parallels bring,
And in another make me understood.
Starres are poore books, & oftentimes do misse:
This book of starres lights to eternall blisse.