Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: George Herbert

In the spirit of the Lenten season I thought George Herbert's poem appropriate, and of course beautiful. I have found myself recently injected with the poetry bug, and so I'm jumping into the poems of Herbert and Gerard Manley Hopkins and Rowan Williams all at once. Good things.

I hope my poem below Herbert's is in the same spirit; at the very least, it came from one of my own fastings, realizing just how insane some of my most accepted and normal practices are. Thank God for silence.

And on a different note, I will be leaving early Monday morning for Spring Break. Two friends (possibly three?) and I will be doing a kind of uber-cheap road trip tour of the Floridian peninsula -- due south on I-75, crossing over, and due north on I-95. Road trips are just about the greatest thing on God's green earth, packed in a van with a couple of buddies and no money, an utter openness to do just about anything. (I would say "barring illegal activity," but you never know with these guys.) This trip sort of plopped into my lap, a fact for which I am immensely grateful; and as a bonus, we'll get to come up through my birth town, Boynton Beach! (Yes, I am not a native Texan; I moved at age one. Perhaps my adopted Texanness informs my adoptionist ecclesiology of baptism. Or something like that.)

All that to say, I will try to write in advance, and pre-set to post, a handful of pieces while I'm gone; if, however, there is a spate of inactivity, you will know why. I will be enjoying warm weather and friendship and spontaneity and old people. Such is the good life.

- - - - - - -


By George Herbert

Welcome deare feast of Lent: who loves not thee,
He loves not Temperance, or Authoritie,
But is compos'd of passion.
The Scriptures bid us fast; the Church sayes, now:
Give to thy Mother, what thou wouldst allow
To ev'ry Corporation.

The humble soul compos'd of love and fear
Begins at home, and layes the burden there,
When doctrines disagree.
He says, in things which use hath justly got,
I am a scandall to the Church, and not
The Church is so to me.

True Christians should be glad of an occasion
To use their temperance, seeking no evasion,
When good is seasonable;
Unlesse Authoritie, which should increase
The obligation in us, make it lesse,
And power it self disable.

Besides the cleannesse of sweet abstinence,
Quick thoughts and motions at a small expense,
A face not fearing light:
Whereas in fulnesse there are sluttish fumes,
Sowre exhalations, and dishonest rheumes,
Revenging the delight.

Then those same pendant profits, which the spring
And Easter intimate, enlarge the thing,
And goodnesse of the deed.
Neither ought other mens abuse of Lent
Spoil the good use; lest by that argument
We forfeit all our Creed.

It's true, we cannot reach Christs forti'th day;
Yet to go part of that religious way,
Is better then to rest:
We cannot reach our Saviours puritie;
Yet are we bid, Be holy ev'n as he.
In both let's do our best.

Who goeth in the way which Christ hath gone,
Is much more sure to meet with him, then one
That travelleth by-wayes:
Perhaps my God, though he be farre before,
May turn, and take me by the hand, and more
May strengthen my decayes.

Yet Lord instruct us to improve our fast
By starving sinne and taking such repast,
As may our faults controll:
That ev'ry man may revell at his doore,
Not in his parlour; banquetting the poore,
And among those his soul.

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Pitts Theology Library, March 5, 2009

In these halls pacifically dense
In these halls terse with reverence
A knowledge still, poised, and ancient
Rests, alive, in pregnant patience
The rows and stacks invite, combine
Wineskins old and new beckon, Dine
The child's faraway voice lingers
Take up and read: lick your fingers
The magisterial joy lies
Strewn about like ancestral skies
They are ready, they cry, to be
To be: opened, digested, freed
That again word might be enfleshed
Hearts human and divine refreshed
A peace that knows father and son
A breath that has not forgotten

And I, all the while, worlds away
Humming iPod the world's decay

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