George Herbert’s church, Bemerton, Wiltshire

I was trying to compose a post about prayer. I wanted to say that prayer is somehow learning to listen to the other side. It’s developing a gift that most of mankind has lost. It’s recovering a capability to understand and sympathize with a different pattern that runs through all things. It is like a surfer learning to read the wave, then ride it. Before he can do this he falls from the board many times. Then I remembered this poem by George Herbert which tries not only to explain through imagery but to inspire.

PRAYER the Churches banquet, Angels age, 
        Gods breath in man returning to his birth, 
        The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage, 
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth ; 

Engine against th’ Almightie, sinner’s towre, 
        Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear, 
        The six daies world-transposing in an houre, 
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear ; 

Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse, 
        Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best, 
        Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest, 
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise, 

        Church-bels beyond the stars heard, the souls bloud, 
        The land of spices, something understood. 

Herbert gave up a promising career at court and in the church to be a country parson at the little church in Bemerton. Learn about George Herbert here.

  • Robert

    My favorite poet of that time. Thanks for posting.