Friday, March 23, 2007

One lovely thing

about giving last night's talk was that I could (and did) read poetry in any spare moment, and
tell myself that it was work! (Reminds me of my undergraduate days. 3 years spent reading, and being paid by the government to do so. Sheer bliss. Wish it were that straightforward for HG and her friends)
This means that I've rediscovered all sorts of delights, and met many more for the first time. I daren't say that I'll post a poem a day between now and Easter, but when I can, I will.
This one, by my beloved George Herbert, is for those who are feeling beset and battered by life right now. It doesn't say exactly what I'd wish to, - because in using the image of a flower, Herbert has to suggest that the events that bruise and damage inevitably come from God. Not in my theology, they don't. But the penultimate verse has such tranquil wholeness about it, it has stayed with me as a reminder of where I'm making for during the stormy times in my own journey.

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
Like snow in May,
As if there were no such cold thing.

Who would have thought my shrivel’d heart
Could have recover’d greennesse? It was gone
Quite under ground; as flowers depart
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,
Killing and quickning, bringing down to hell
And up to heaven in an houre;
Making a chiming of a passing-bell,
We say amisse,
This or that is:
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,
Offring at heav’n, growing and groning thither:
Nor doth my flower
Want a spring-showre,
My sinnes and I joining together;

But while I grow to a straight line;
Still upwards bent, as if heav’n were mine own,
Thy anger comes, and I decline:
What frost to that? what pole is not the zone,
Where all things burn,
When thou dost turn,
And the least frown of thine is shown?

And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing: O my onely light,
It cannot be
That I am he
On whom thy tempests fell all night.

These are thy wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flowers that glide:
Which when we once can finde and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us, where to bide.
Who would be more,
Swelling through store,
Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.

1 comment:

Songbird said...

Thank you for this gift to the poetry-deprived among us. :-)