Death

By George Herbert 1593–1633 George Herbert
Death, thou wast once an uncouth hideous thing,
                           Nothing but bones,
      The sad effect of sadder groans:
Thy mouth was open, but thou couldst not sing.

For we considered thee as at some six
                           Or ten years hence,
      After the loss of life and sense,
Flesh being turned to dust, and bones to sticks.

We looked on this side of thee, shooting short;
                         Where we did find
      The shells of fledge souls left behind,
Dry dust, which sheds no tears, but may extort.

But since our Savior’s death did put some blood
                           Into thy face,
      Thou art grown fair and full of grace,
Much in request, much sought for as a good.

For we do now behold thee gay and glad,
                           As at Doomsday;
      When souls shall wear their new array,
And all thy bones with beauty shall be clad.

Therefore we can go die as sleep, and trust
                           Half that we have
      Unto an honest faithful grave;
Making our pillows either down, or dust.

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Poet George Herbert 1593–1633

POET’S REGION Wales

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Living, Death, Religion, Christianity

Poetic Terms 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 Living, Death, Religion, Christianity

POET’S REGION Wales

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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