Anglican Metaphysical Poets

Two of my favorite poets belong to this group, George Herbert and John Donne. We will tackle Herbert today.
He was born into a wealthy Welsh family and raised and educated in England in the first half of the 1600s. Well educated, Herbert considered and rejected a life in English politics. Instead, he was ordained a priest at age 35, after which he served the small rural parish near Salisbury about 75 miles southwest of London. He lived in the rectory, served the parish, and wrote poetry until he died four years later at 39. He paid to rebuild the neglected church building and rectory from his own funds. The parish is now St. Andrew’s in Bemerton, Wiltshire. You can go there today.
Here is a poem about the Eucharist from his collection titled “The Temple”
Love III
Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guiltie of dust and sinne,
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lack’d any thing.
A guest, I answer’d, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkinde, ungratefull? Ah my deare,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?
Truth Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My deare, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.

Leave a Reply