George Herbert at Bemerton

I am the man who has seen affliction…
(Lamentation 3:1)

His portrait would have him
serenely contemplating a garden,
one hand raised beatifically
like the saints of old.

Often I would have my days like that,
passed in that perfect serene of green,
spirit quiet within like the waters without,
no trouble straining pastoral brow.

But poems and pastors are not made like this;
the cure of souls is the work of the broken,
and contemplation is fuel for deed,
the quiet where turmoil turns to seed,

and the man who knew thoughts that were all cases of knives
was no doe-eyed dreamer but a brother to affliction,
and in earth’s pulley his grief pulled upward
and poems sprung from the love-mended rhyme.

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