Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Holy Communion

Not in rich furniture, or fine array,
           Nor in a wedge of gold,
           Thou, who from me was sold,
        To me dost now thyself convey;
For so thou shouldst without me still have been,
            Leaving within me sin:

But by the way of nourishment and strength
            Thou creep'st into my breast;
            Making thy way my rest,
         And thy small quantities my length;
Which spread their forces into every part,
            Meeting sin's force and art.

Yet can these not get over to my soul,
            Leaping the wall that parts
            Our souls and fleshly hearts;
        But as th' outworks, they may control
My rebel-flesh, and carrying thy name,
            Affright both sin and shame.

Only thy grace, which with these elements comes,
            Knoweth the ready way,
            And hath the privy key,
        Op'ning the soul's most subtle rooms;
While those to spirits refined, at door attend
            Dispatches from their friend.

Give me my captive soul, or take
         My body also thither.
Another lift like this will make
         Them both to be together.

Before that sin turned flesh to stone,
         And all our lump to leaven;
A fervent sigh might well have blown
         Our innocent earth to heaven.

For sure when Adam did not know
         To sin, or sin to smother;
He might to heav'n from Paradise go,
         As from one room t'another.

Thou hast restored us to this case
        By this thy heav'nly blood;
Which I can go to, when I please,
        And leave th' earth to their food.

—George Herbert, The Complete English Poems (New York: Penguin, 1991), 46–47.

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