Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Poem: "The Agony," by George Herbert

I just realized I missed the anniversary of George Herbert’s death by two days. But I guess I don’t need an anniversary as an excuse to post one of my favorite Herbert poems.

The Agony

        Philosophers have measured mountains,
Fathom'd the depths of seas, of states, and kings,
Walk'd with a staff to heaven, and traced fountains
        But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove:
Yet few there are that sound them; Sin and Love.

        Who would know Sin, let him repair
Unto Mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man, so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
        His skin, his garments, bloody be.
Sin is that Press and Vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruel food through every vein.

        Who knows not Love, let him assay,
And taste that juice, which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
        If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.

(By George Herbert, 1593-1633)

(Taken from The English Poems of George Herbert, ed., C.A. Patrides)

3 comments:

  1. I'm so happy to see a Nina post! =D

    Beautiful poem . . . I've never read it before. Thank you for sharing!!! I love the last line . . . breathtaking.

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  2. Isn't it a great poem? That last line always gets me, too.

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  3. Beautiful! Oh to write poetry as brilliant as that!

    Blessings!
    Deborah

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