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Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,

Like gold to airy thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so

As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixt foot, makes no show,
To move, but doth if th' other do.

And though it in the centre sit,

Yet when the other far doth roam, It leans and harkens after it,

And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must

Like th' other foot, obliquely run; Thy firmness makes my circle just, And makes me end where I begun.


(From Poems, with Elegies on the Author's Death, 1633)

Sweetest Love, I do not go

For weariness of thee,

Nor in hope the world can show
A fitter Love for me;
But since that I

Must die at last, 'tis best
Thus to use myself in jest,

Thus by feignèd death to die.

Yesternight the sun went hence,
And yet is here to-day;
He hath no desire nor sense,
Nor half so short a way.

Then fear not me;
But believe that I shall make
Hastier journeys, since I take
More wings and spurs than he.

O how feeble is man's power,

That, if good fortune fall,
Cannot add another hour,

Nor a lost hour recall.
But come bad chance,
And we join to it our strength,
And we teach it art and length,
Itself o'er us t' advance.

When thou sigh'st, thou sigh'st no wind,
But sigh'st my soul away;

When thou weep'st, unkindly kind,
My life's-blood doth decay.
It cannot be

That thou lov'st me as thou say'st,
If in thine my life thou waste
That art the best of me.

Let not thy divining heart
Forethink me any ill;
Destiny may take thy part

And may thy fears fulfil;
But think that we
Are but turned aside to sleep:
They, who one another keep
Alive, ne'er parted be.

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(First published 1631)

Wilt Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done;
For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sins their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallow'd in, a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done;
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun

My last thread, I shall perish on the shore; But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son Shall shine, as He shines now and heretofore: And having done that, Thou hast done;

I fear no more.

George herbert



(From The Temple, 1631)

Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridall of the earth and skie:
The dew shall weep thy fall to-night;
For thou must die.

Sweet rose, whose hue angrie and brave
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,
Thy root is ever in its grave,
And thou must die.

Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie,
My musick shows ye have your closes,
And all must die.

Only a sweet and vertuous soul,
Like season'd timber, never gives;
But though the whole world turn to coal,
Then chiefly lives.


(From the same)

When God at first made man,
Having a glasse of blessings standing by,
'Let us,' said He, 'poure on him all we can;
Let the world's riches, which dispersed lie,
Contract into a span.'

So strength first made a way;

Then beautie flow'd, then wisdome, honour, pleasure;

When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that, alone of all His treasure,
Rest in the bottome lay.

'For if I should,' said He, 'Bestow this jewell also on My creature, He would adore My gifts in stead of Me, And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature: So both should losers be.

Yet let him keep the rest, But keep them with repining restlessnesse: Let him be rich and wearie, that at least, If goodnesse leade him not, yet wearinesse May tosse him to my breast.'


(From the same)

Teach me, my God and King,
In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in anything
To do it as for Thee:

Not rudely, as a beast,
To runne into an action;
But still to make Thee prepossest,
And give it his perfection.

A man that looks on glasse,
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it passe,
And then the heav'n espie.

All may of Thee partake:
Nothing can be so mean,
Which with his tincture for Thy sake,'
Will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
Makes drudgerie divine;

Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,
Makes that and th' action fine.

This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold;

For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for lesse be told.

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