Poetry, VOLUME 6

George Herbert – Repentance [Poem]


George Herbert

[Today is the feast of George Herbert, who died on this day in 1633]

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George HerbertLord, I confess my sin is great;
Great is my sin. Oh! gently treat
With your quick flower, your momentary bloom;
        Whose life still pressing
        Is one undressing,
A steady aiming at a tomb.


Man’s age is two hours work, or three:
Each day does round about us see.
Thus are we to delights: but we are all
        To sorrows old,
        If like be told
From what life feels of Adam’s fall.


O let your height of mercy then
Compassionate short-breathéd men.
Cut me not off for my most foul transgression:
        I do confess
        My foolishness;
My God, accept of my confession.


Sweeten at length this bitter bowl,
Which you have poured into my soul;
Your wormwood turn to health, winds to fair weather:
        For if you stay,
        I and this day,
As we did rise, we die together.


When you for sin rebuke each man,
Forthwith he waxeth woe and wan:
Bitterness fills our bowels; all our hearts
        Pine, and decay,
        And drop away,
And carry with them th’ other parts.


But you will sin and grief destroy;
That so the broken bones may joy,
And tune together in a well-set song,
        Full of His praises,
        Who dead men raises.
Fractures well cured make us more strong.


*** [easyazon-link keywords=”George Herbert Poems” locale=”us”]Books by George Herbert[/easyazon-link]



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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com

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