The Agonie

By Herbert, George | The Christian Century, November 16, 2004 | Go to article overview

The Agonie


Herbert, George, The Christian Century


The agonie

      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; when 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.

From The English Poems of George Herbert, edited by C. A. Patrides (J. M. Dent, 1974).

WHEN GEORGE HERBERT (1593-1633) was near death, he asked that the manuscript later published as The Temple be passed on to his friend Nicholas Ferrar. …

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