George Herbert
by George Herbert

WHITHER, O whither art Thou fled,
My Lord, my Love ?
My searches are my daily bread,
                            Yet never prove.

My knees pierce the earth, mine eyes the sky ;              5 
                            And yet the sphere 
And centre both to me deny 
                            That Thou art there.

Yet can I mark how herbs below
                            Grow green and gay,                       10
As if to meet Thee they did know,
                            While I decay.

Yet can I mark how stars above
                            Simper and shine,
As having keys unto Thy love,                                     15
                            While poor I pine.

I sent a sigh to seek Thee out,
                            Deep drawn in pain,
Winged like an arrow ; but my scout
                            Returns in vain.                              20

I turned another—having store—
                            Into a groan,
Because the search was dumb before ;
                            But all was one.

Lord, dost Thou some new fabric mould                       25
                            Which favour wins,
And keeps Thee present ; leaving the old
                            Unto their sins ?

Where is my God ? what hidden place
                            Conceals Thee still ?                       30
What covert dare eclipse Thy face ?
                            Is it Thy will ?

O let not that of anything ;
                            Let rather brass,
Or steel, or mountains be Thy ring,                               35
                            And I will pass.

Thy will such an entrenching is,
                            As passeth thought :
To it all strength, all subtilties
                            Are things of nought.                       40

Thy will such a strange distance is, 
                            As that to it 
East and West touch, the poles do kiss, 
                            And parallels meet.

Since then my grief must be as large                            45
                            As is Thy space, 
Thy distance from me ; see my charge, 
                            Lord, see my case.

O take these bars, these lengths, away ; 
                            Turn, and restore me :                     50
“Be not Almighty,” let me say, 
                            “Against, but for me.”

When Thou dost turn, and wilt be near, 
                            What edge so keen, 
What point so piercing can appear                                55
                            To come between ?

For as Thy absence doth excel 
                            All distance known, 
So doth Thy nearenesse bear the bell, 
                            Making two one.                             60

Herbert, George. The Poems of George Herbert. Ernest Rhys, Ed.
London: Walter Scott, 1886. 167-169.

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