This week’s Featured Poem comes from George Herbert, and suitable perhaps in the week of Valentines, Love (III).
Welsh-born poet, orator and priest George Herbert is recognised as “one of the foremost British devotional lyricists”. Herbert was born into an artistic, wealthy family and received his education at Trinity College, Cambridge. He had originally intended to train as a priest but went on to become the University’s Public Orator, attracting the attention of King James I.
He briefly served in Parliament before returning to secular ambitions, taking holy orders in the Church of England in his mid thirties. Herbert served as a rector at St Andrews Church in Salisbury for the rest of his life where he was noted for his dedicated care of parishioners before passing away at the age of 39.
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, 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.
By George Herbert