The Elixir

By George Herbert 1593–1633 George Herbert
         Teach me, my God and King,
         In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in anything
         To do it as for Thee.

         Not rudely, as a beast,
         To run into an action;
But still to make Thee prepossest,
         And give it his perfection.

         A man that looks on glass,
         On it may stay his eye;
Or it he pleaseth, through it pass,
         And then the heav'n espy.

         All may of Thee partake:
         Nothing can be so mean,
Which with his tincture—"for Thy sake"—
         Will not grow bright and clean.

         A servant with this clause
         Makes drudgery divine:
Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,
         Makes that and th' action fine.

         This is the famous stone
         That turneth all to gold;
For that which God doth touch and own
         Cannot for less be told.

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Poet George Herbert 1593–1633

POET’S REGION Wales

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Faith & Doubt, Religion, Jobs & Working, Christianity, Activities, God & the Divine

Poetic Terms Metaphor, Rhymed Stanza

 George  Herbert

Biography

Nestled somewhere within the Age of Shakespeare and the Age of Milton is George Herbert. There is no Age of Herbert: he did not consciously fashion an expansive literary career for himself, and his characteristic gestures, insofar as these can be gleaned from his poems and other writings, tend to be careful self-scrutiny rather than rhetorical pronouncement; local involvement rather than broad social engagement; and complex, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Faith & Doubt, Religion, Jobs & Working, Christianity, Activities, God & the Divine

POET’S REGION Wales

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Poetic Terms Metaphor, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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