The fact that George Herbert wrote a number of poems of called “Affliction” tells us something about the nature of his life and the hardships, many of them internal, that he endured. Today’s poem is based on his fourth “Affliction” poem, a poem that resonates strongly with me despite the four hundred years that have passed since it was written. Obsession (After “Affliction (IV)”) Torn beyond my recognition, Lord, here I wait At Your tall gate, Too small to hope or beg permission, Too weakened by the distance, height Which seems to cut You from my sight. I do not dare to dream or fear. Just this I know: Go where I go, These nagging, dragging thoughts are near, Accusing me in my own voice; Even silence threatens noise. My prayers echo inside my mind. I cling to them; Your garment’s hem Is hard and harder now to find, And though my praying does not cease, It has no knowledge of Your peace. Oh God, if You can’t calm these waves, They will swamp me In turgid sea While my obsession raves and raves. If You are life, then break through cloud And still the thunder, ranting loud – Then I may rest within Your arms Which lift me high, Your love’s reply To every gate which locks and bars, And all my battles shall be won And I shall dwell in Your Well done. Affliction (IV) – George Herbert Broken in pieces all asunder, Lord, hunt me not, A thing forgot, Once a poore creature, now a wonder, A wonder tortur’d in the space Betwixt this world and that of grace. My thoughts are all a case of knives, Wounding my heart With scatter’d smart, As watring pots give flowers their lives. Nothing their furie can controll, While they do wound and prick my soul. All my attendants are at strife, Quitting their place Unto my face: Nothing performs the task of life: The elements are let loose to fight, And while I live, trie out their right. Oh help, my God! let not their plot Kill them and me, And also thee, Who art my life: dissolve the knot, As the sunne scatters by his light All the rebellions of the night. Then shall those powers, which work for grief, Enter thy pay, And day by day Labour thy praise, and my relief; With care and courage building me, Till I reach heav’n, and much more, thee.