When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by,
“Let us,” said he, “pour on him all we can.
Let the world’s riches, which dispersèd lie,
Contract into a span.”

So strength first made a way;
Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure.
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure,
Rest in the bottom lay.

“For if I should,” said he,
“Bestow this jewel also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts instead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature;
So both should losers be.

“Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessness;
Let him be rich and weary, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to my breast.”

—From The Temple (1633)

For more on Herbert (1593-1633), see Gene Veith’s book, Reformation Spirituality: The Religion of George Herbert and John Piper’s talk, “Saying Beautifully As a Way of Seeing Beauty: The Life of George Herbert and His Poetic Effort.”

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One thought on “George Herbert, “The Pulley””

  1. David says:

    Thanks Justin. It took me a few minutes to understand the major points, but having gone through Jim Scott Orrick’s book, A year with George Herbert, I am getting the knack. This brother was truly a gift!

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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