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Poems of the Week: Easter

 

George Herbert, from The Temple

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
 Guilty of dust and sin.
 But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
 From my first entrance in,
 Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
 If I lack'd anything.

 "A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
 Love said, "You shall be he."
 "I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
 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 dear, then I will serve."
 "You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
 So I did sit and eat.

 

The World

by Henry Vaughan

I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light,
       All calm, as it was bright;
And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years,
       Driv’n by the spheres
Like a vast shadow mov’d; in which the world
       And all her train were hurl’d.
The doting lover in his quaintest strain
       Did there complain;
Near him, his lute, his fancy, and his flights,
       Wit’s sour delights,
With gloves, and knots, the silly snares of pleasure,
       Yet his dear treasure
All scatter’d lay, while he his eyes did pour
       Upon a flow’r.

 

The darksome statesman hung with weights and woe,
Like a thick midnight-fog mov’d there so slow,
       He did not stay, nor go;
Condemning thoughts (like sad eclipses) scowl
       Upon his soul,
And clouds of crying witnesses without
       Pursued him with one shout.
Yet digg’d the mole, and lest his ways be found,
       Work’d under ground,
Where he did clutch his prey; but one did see
       That policy;
Churches and altars fed him; perjuries
       Were gnats and flies;
It rain’d about him blood and tears, but he
       Drank them as free.

 

The fearful miser on a heap of rust
Sate pining all his life there, did scarce trust
       His own hands with the dust,
Yet would not place one piece above, but lives
       In fear of thieves;
Thousands there were as frantic as himself,
       And hugg’d each one his pelf;
The downright epicure plac’d heav’n in sense,
       And scorn’d pretence,
While others, slipp’d into a wide excess,
       Said little less;
The weaker sort slight, trivial wares enslave,
       Who think them brave;
And poor despised Truth sate counting by
       Their victory.

 

Yet some, who all this while did weep and sing,
And sing, and weep, soar’d up into the ring;
       But most would use no wing.
O fools (said I) thus to prefer dark night
       Before true light,
To live in grots and caves, and hate the day
       Because it shews the way,
The way, which from this dead and dark abode
       Leads up to God,
A way where you might tread the sun, and be
       More bright than he.
But as I did their madness so discuss
       One whisper’d thus,
“This ring the Bridegroom did for none provide,
       But for his bride.”
Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is the former editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of The Politics of Human Nature, Montenegro: The Divided Land, and The Morality of Everyday Life, named Editors' Choice in philosophy by Booklist in 2005. He is the coauthor of The Conservative Movement and the editor of Immigration and the American Identity. He holds a Ph.D. in classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Rockford Institute, he taught classics at the University of Miami of Ohio, served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, and was headmaster at the Archibald Rutledge Academy. He has been published in, among others, The Spectator (London), Independent on Sunday (London), Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Review, Classical Journal, Telos, and Modern Age. He and his wife, Gail, have four children and four grandchildren.

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