George Herbert


MAN.           

                MY God, I heard this day,
      That none doth build a stately habitation
              But he that means to dwell therein.
              What house more stately hath there been,
      Or can be, then is Man ?  to whose creation
                      All things are in decay.
     
                      For Man is evíry thing,
      And more :  He is a tree, yet bears no fruit ;
              A beast, yet is, or should be more :
              Reason and speech we onely bring.
      Parrats may thank us, if they are not mute,
                      They go upon the score.
     
                      Man is all symmetrie,
      Full of proportions, one limbe to another,
              And all to all the world besides :
              Each part may call the farthest, brother :
      And head with foot hath private amitie,
                      And both with moons and tides.
     
                      Nothing hath got so farre,
      But Man hath caught and kept it, as his prey.
              His eyes dismount the highest starre :
              He is in little all the sphere.
      Herbs gladly cure our flesh, because that they
                      Finde their acquaintance there.
     
                      For us the windes do blow ;
      The earth doth rest, heavín move, and fountains flow.
              Nothing we see, but means our good,
              As our delight, or as our treasure :
      The whole is either our cupboard of food,
                      Or cabinet of pleasure.
     
                      The starres have us to bed ;
      Night draws the curtain, which the sunne withdraws :
              Musick and light attend our head.
              All things unto our flesh are kinde
      In their descent and being ;  to our minde
                      In their ascent and cause.
     
      Steel Engraving
     
                      Each thing is full of dutie :
      Waters united are our navigation ;
              Distinguished, our habitation ;
              Below, our drink ;  above, our meat ;
      Both are our cleanlinesse.  Hath one such beautie ?
                      Then how are all things neat !
     
                      More servants wait on Man,
      Then heíl take notice of :  in evíry path
              He treads down that which doth befriend him,
              When sicknesse makes him pale and wan.
      Oh mightie love !  Man is one world, and hath
                      Another to attend him.
     
                      Since then, my God, thou hast
      So brave a Palace built ;  O dwell in it,
              That it may dwell with thee at last !
              Till then, afford us so much wit ;
      That, as the world serves us, we may serve thee,
                      And both thy servants be.



Source:
Herbert, George. The Poetical Works of George Herbert.
New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1857. 114-117.

Engraving designed by Birket Foster ; engraved by Edmund Evans.


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