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« Easter Communion by Gerard Manley Hopkins | Main | Music for Holy Week (3) »

April 12, 2009

Herbert’s ’Easter Wings’

The English poet George Herbert (1593-1633) penned this beautiful "shaped" poem he titled "Easter Wings":  

Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
      Though foolishly he lost the same,
            Decaying more and more,
               Till he became
                  Most poor:
                  With thee
               O let me rise
            As larks, harmoniously,
        And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did begin
      And still with sicknesses and shame.
            Thou didst so punish sin,
               That I became
                  Most thin.
                  With thee
               Let me combine,
            And feel thy victory:
      For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me. 

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Rolley Haggard

George Herbert is one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing, Diane. Here's a kindred sentiment.

-- © Rolley Haggard

I can’t believe that God would die for me
And take the punishment I’ve richly earned;
I dare not think His mercy could be free
To one who countless times His mercy spurned.
I can’t believe the unbelievable;
I cannot do a thing I cannot do.
It is a torment unendurable
To hope in something too good to be true.
And yet a paradox I entertain:
Although I can’t believe, I find I do,
Because the One who died now lives again!
I must then to my double heart be true:
Of sinners I’ll confess that I am chief,
And worship God in holy unbelief.


“…they [were] saying, ‘It is true! The Lord has risen!’.and…they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement…” --Luke 24:33, 34, 41

Diane Singer

Lovely poem, Rolley. I think you have perfectly captured the "it sounds too good to be true" heart of the gospel message. Sadly, I know people who are too proud to accept salvation by grace; they are determined, out of their own arrogance, to try to "earn" their way into heaven. It's tragic, and such an insult to everything Christ did for us on the Cross.

Thanks for sharing your words.

Rolley Haggard

This is probably my favorite of Herbert's many beautiful and moving poems --

The Agonie --- (George Herbert, 1633)

Philosophers have measur’d mountains,
Fathom’d the depths of seas, of states, and kings,
Walk’d with a staffe to heav’n, and traced fountains:
But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove:
Yet few there are that sound them; Sinne and Love.

Who would know Sinne, let him repair
Unto mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
His skinne, his garments bloudie be.
Sinne is that presse and vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruell food through ev’ry vein.

Who knows not Love, let him assay
And taste that juice, which on the crosse a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love in that liquour sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as bloud; but I, as wine.


Note: abroach means to pierce (a cask, etc.) so as to let a liquor flow out. [The Oxford English Dictionary] -- John 19:34 “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.”


When I first saw this post the other day, there was one comment attached. I just knew it would be from Rolley, and it pleased (comforted) me to know that there are others in the world whose souls long for the same things as mine. Thank you for the poem, Rolley; it struck a chord deep in my soul.

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