gall and gumption

Sunday, March 08, 2009

George Herbert: The Flower

HOW fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean 
Are thy returns! Ev’n as the flowers in Spring,
To which, besides their own demean,
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring;
Grief melts away 5
Like snow in May,
As if there were no such cold thing.

Who would have thought my shrivell’d heart
Could have recover’d greenness? It was gone
Quite under ground; as flowers depart 10
To see their mother-root, when they have blown,
Where they together
All the hard weather,
Dead to the world, keep house unknown.

These are Thy wonders, Lord of power, 15
Killing and quick’ning, bringing down to Hell
And up to Heaven in an hour;
Making a chiming of a passing bell.
We say amiss
This or that is; 20
Thy word is all, if we could spell.

O that I once past changing were,
Fast in thy Paradise where no flower can wither!
Many a Spring I shoot up fair,
Off’ring at Heaven, growing and groaning thither; 25
Nor doth my flower
Want a Spring shower,
My sins and I joining together.

This is one of the most beautiful pieces of formal English scansion.


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