The Flower

by George Herbert


Original Language English

     How fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean
Are thy returns! Ev'n as the flowers in spring;
     To which, besides their own demean,
The late-passed frosts tributes of pleasure bring
               Grief melts away
               Like snow in May,
     As if there were no such cold thing.

     Who would have thought my shrivelled heart
Could have recovered greenness? It was gone
     Quite underground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root when they have blown;
               Where they together
               All the hard weather,
     Dead to the world, keep house unknown.

     These are thy wonders, Lord of power,
Killing and quick'ning, bringing down to hell
     And up to heaven in an hour;
Making a chiming of a passing-bell.
               We say amiss
               This or that is:
     Thy word is all, if we could spell.

     Oh that I once past changing were,
Fast in they paradise, where no flower can wither!
     Many a spring I shoot up fair,
Off'ring at heav'n, growing and groaning thither:
               Nor doth my flower
               Want a spring shower,
     My sins and I joining together:

     But while I grow in a straight line,
Still upwards bent, as if heav'n were mine own,
     Thy anger comes, and I decline:
What frost to that? What pole is not the zone,
               Where all things burn,
               When thou dost turn,
     And the least frown of thine is shown?

     And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
     I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing: O my only light,
               It cannot be
               That I am he
     On whom thy tempests fell all night.

     These are thy wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flowers that glide:
     Which when we once can find and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us, where to bide.
               Who would be more
               Swelling through store,
     Forfeit their paradise by their pride.

-- from George Herbert: The Country Parson and the Temple, by George Herbert / Edited by John Nelson Wall

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Recommended Books: George Herbert

The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry The Oxford Book of Mystical Verse George Herbert: The Country Parson and the Temple Metaphysical Poetry: (Penguin Classics) George Herbert: The Complete English Poems
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The Flower