Poetry, VOLUME 2

Poem: George Herbert “Lent: Ash Wednesday” [Vol. 2, #8]

Lent: Ash Wednesday
George Herbert.

1593-1633.

[ In remembrance of Ash Wednesday, next Wednesday, February 25… ]


Welcome dear feast of Lent: who loves not thee,
He loves not Temperance, or Authority,
But is composed of passion.
The Scriptures bid us fast; the Church says, now:
Give to your Mother, what you would allow
To every Corporation.

*  *  *

It ‘s true, we cannot reach Christ’s fortieth day;
Yet to go part of that religious way,
Is better than to rest:
We cannot reach our Savior’s purity;
Yet are bid, Be holy ev’n as he.
In both let ‘s do our best.

Who goes in the way which Christ has gone,
Is much more sure to meet with him, than one
Who travels the by-ways:
Perhaps my God, though he be far before,
May turn, and take me by the hand, and more
May strengthen my decays.

Yet Lord instruct us to improve our fast
By starving sin and taking such repast
As may our faults control:
That ev’ry man may revel at his door,
Not in his parlor; banqueting the poor,
And among those his soul.

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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One Comment

  1. Thanks for this. Fun to hear 16th century figure say about fasting at Lent “let ’s do our best.” 🙂

    A helpful meditation for me today–Lent is a time to seek holiness. I love George Herbert. I took a course on him with Maxine Hancock at Regent College.

    all the best,
    andy