George Herbert: “Lent”

by Kim on February 21, 2007

If anyone would like a Lenten education, try the poetry of George Herbert. Here are the last two verses of his poem “Lent”.

Who goeth in the way which Christ hath gone
Is much more sure to meet with Him then one
That travelleth by-wayes;
Perhaps my God, though He be farre before,
May turn, and take me by the hand, and more,
May strengthen my decayes.

Yet, Lord, instruct us to improve our fast
By starving sinne, and taking such repast
As may our faults controll;
That ev’ry man may revell at his doore,
Not in his parlour - banquetting the poore,
And among those, his soul.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }


ee 02.21.07 at 9:56 pm

I just nicked borrowed a book of my dad’s entitled ‘Praying with George Herbert and John Dunne.’ I love the Dunne, if more from the point of the imagery than the theology. But Herbert has left me cold so far. Any particularly fine ones to get me into him?


Kim 02.21.07 at 10:22 pm

Hi EE,

I can’t believe Herbert left you cold; he’s such a sympathetic poet, and so intimate and honest as an observer of the (his) human heart, but - more - such a thankful reveiver of grace..

You’ll know his poems that are hymns: “King of glory, King of peace”, “Let all the world in every corner sing”, “Come my Way, my Truth, my Life”, “Teach me my God and King”.

“Prayer, the Churche’s banquet” and “Love bade me welcome” are two of his most well known poems - and for good reason.

For Lent, try his poems of spiritual conflict and healing - they are awesome: e.g. “Affliction” (”Broken in pieces all asunder”), “Confession” (”O what a cunning guest”), “Sinne’s Round” (”Sorrie I am, my God, sorrie I am”).

And for his coming to love and trust God: e.g. “Bitter-Sweet” (”Ah, my deare angrie Lord”), “The Glance” (”When first Thy sweet and gracious eye”), “Discipline” (”Throw away Thy rod”), “The Invitation” (”Come ye hither, all who taste”).

That should get you started. You’re in for a treat!


ee 02.26.07 at 2:30 pm

‘Sorrie I am’… Thanks Kim, you’ve helped me give him a more open try. I think I was after the imagery first time round, and in comparison to Donne he suffered a bit on this score. You are right though, he is an excellent observer of the human heart and its relationship to God - a lot of really rich stuff in this regard - and he has many memorable and helpful phrases.

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