Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Take More Than a Glance at Herbert’s The Glance

Earlier today I gave a few reasons why you should get to know George Herbert.  I gave you a couple of sample poems but this one I neglected to put in an already lengthy post.  For your benefit I have modernized the English but have not changed the words (i.e. “Vouchsaf’d” has become “vouchsafed”

     When first thy sweet and gracious eye
Vouchsafed even in the midst of youth and night
To look upon me, who before did lie
                         Weltering in sin;
       I felt a sugared strange delight,
Passing all cordials made by any art,
Bedew, embalm, and overrun my heart,
                         And take it in.
       Since that time many a bitter storm
My soul hath felt, even able to destroy,
Had the malicious and ill-meaning harm
                         His swing and sway :
       But still thy sweet original joy
Sprung from thine eye, did work within my soul,
And surging griefs, when they grew bold, control,
       And got the day.
       If thy first glance so powerful be,
A mirth but opened and sealed up again ;
What wonders shall we feel, when we shall see
                         Thy full-eyed love!
       When thou shalt look us out of pain,
And one aspect of thine spend in delight
More then a thousand suns disburse in light,
       In heaven above
(The Glance, From the Works of George Herbert)

I urge you to read through this slowly and think through what Herbert is saying—it is beautiful.  If “original joy” is enough to sustain us through many trials and temptations what “wonders shall we feel” when we are the objects of his “full-eyed love”.

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