MY heart did heave, and there came forth, O God !
By that I knew that Thou wast in the grief,
To guide and govern it to my relief,
Making a sceptre of the rod :
Hadst Thou not had Thy part,
Sure the unruly sigh had broke my heart.
But since Thy breath gave me both life and shape,
Thou know'st my tallies ;* and when there’s assigned
So much breath to a sigh, what’s then behind?
Or if some years with it escape,
The sigh then only is
A gale to bring me sooner to my bliss.
Thy life on earth was grief, and Thou art still
Constant unto it, making it to be
A point of honour, now to grieve in me,
And in Thy members suffer ill.
They who lament one cross,
Thou dying daily, praise Thee to Thy loss.
* Reckonings, which were anciently kept by two notched sticks
corresponding to each other, each person being a party to the
account of having one.
There is a popular old superstition that every time we sigh, we
lose a drop of blood from the heart, and thus impair our strength.
See Hamlet, Act IV., Scene 7 :
A Spendthrift sigh
That hurts by easing.
Herbert, George. The Works of George Herbert in Prose and Verse.
New York: John Wurtele Lovell, 1881. 158-159.
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