Let thy blessèd Spirit bear a part/and make up our defects with his sweet art

Three poems for Easter by George Herbert

George Herbert, one of the leading “metaphysical poets” of the 17th Century
  • George Herbert, one of the leading “metaphysical poets” of the 17th Century

Easter

  • Rise, heart, thy lord is risen. Sing his praise
  • Without delays,
  • Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
  • With him may’st rise:
  • That, as his death calcinèd thee to dust,
  • His life may make thee gold, and, much more, just.
  • Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
  • With all thy art,
  • The cross taught all wood to resound his name
  • Who bore the same.
  • His stretchèd sinews taught all strings what key
  • Is best to celebrate this most high day.
  • Consort, both heart and lute, and twist a song
  • Pleasant and long;
  • Or, since all music is but three parts vied
  • And multiplied
  • Oh let thy blessèd Spirit bear a part,
  • And make up our defects with his sweet art.

Easter Wings

  • Lord, Who createdst man in wealth and store,
  • Though foolishly he lost the same,
  • Decaying more and more,
  • Till he became
  • Most poore:
  • With Thee
  • O let me rise,
  • As larks, harmoniously,
  • And sing this day Thy victories:
  • Then shall the fall further the flight in me.
  • My tender age in sorrow did beginne;
  • And still with sicknesses and shame
  • Thou didst so punish sinne,
  • That I became
  • Most thinne.
  • With Thee
  • Let me combine,
  • And feel this day Thy victorie;
  • For, if I imp my wing on Thine,
  • Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

Prayer (I)

  • Prayer the Church’s banquet, angels’ age,
  • God’s breath in man returning to his birth,
  • The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
  • The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth;
  • Engine against th’Almighty, sinner’s tower,
  • Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
  • The six-days’ world transposing in an hour,
  • A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
  • Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
  • Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
  • Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,
  • The Milky Way, the bird of Paradise,
  • Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood,
  • The land of spices; something understood.

George Herbert (1593–1633) was a Welsh poet and Anglican priest who is considered one of the leading “metaphysical poets” of the 17th Century, a group that also included Herbert’s contemporary and fellow cleric, John Donne. Considered one of the greatest of English religious poets, Herbert also stands out as a literary great in English prosody. Besides full command of the English language, Herbert also exhibits stunning feats of imagination in his poems, especially in his experiments with verse forms — including pattern poems, whereby a poem’s physical shape on the page, sometimes printed sideways, matches the poem’s subject matter. “Easter Wings” printed above is an example of this sort of pattern poem.

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