The Temper (I)

By George Herbert 1593–1633 George Herbert
How should I praise thee, Lord! How should my rhymes
         Gladly engrave thy love in steel,
         If what my soul doth feel sometimes,
                My soul might ever feel!

Although there were some forty heav'ns, or more,
         Sometimes I peer above them all;
         Sometimes I hardly reach a score;
                Sometimes to hell I fall.

O rack me not to such a vast extent;
         Those distances belong to thee:
         The world's too little for thy tent,
                A grave too big for me.

Wilt thou meet arms with man, that thou dost stretch
         A crumb of dust from heav'n to hell?
         Will great God measure with a wretch?
                Shall he thy stature spell?

O let me, when thy roof my soul hath hid,
         O let me roost and nestle there:
         Then of a sinner thou art rid,
                And I of hope and fear.

Yet take thy way; for sure thy way is best:
         Stretch or contract me thy poor debtor:
         This is but tuning of my breast,
                To make the music better.

Whether I fly with angels, fall with dust,
         Thy hands made both, and I am there;
         Thy power and love, my love and trust,
                Make one place ev'rywhere.

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Poet George Herbert 1593–1633

POET’S REGION Wales

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects God & the Divine, Death, Christianity, Philosophy, Arts & Sciences, Faith & Doubt, Disappointment & Failure, Living, Religion

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 God & the Divine, Death, Christianity, Philosophy, Arts & Sciences, Faith & Doubt, Disappointment & Failure, Living, Religion

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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