The Pulley

- 1593-1633
   When God at first made man, 
Having a glass of blessings standing by, 
   "Let us," said he, "pour on him all we can. 
Let the world's riches, which disperséd lie, 
   Contract into a span."

   So strength first made a way; 
Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honor, pleasure. 
   When almost all was out, God made a stay, 
Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure, 
   Rest in the bottom lay. 

   "For if I should," said he, 
"Bestow this jewel also on my creature, 
   He would adore my gifts instead of me, 
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature; 
   So both should losers be. 

   "Yet let him keep the rest, 
But keep them with repining restlessness. 
   Let him be rich and weary, that at least, 
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness 
   May toss him to my breast." 

More by George Herbert

The Collar

I struck the board, and cry'd, No more.
                 I will abroad.
     What? shall I ever sigh and pine?
My lines and life are free; free as the rode,
     Loose as the winde, as large as store.
        Shall I be still in suit?
     Have I no harvest but a thorn
     To let me bloud, and not restore
     What I have lost with cordiall fruit?
                  Sure there was wine
Before my sighs did drie it: there was corn
        Before my tears did drown it.
     Is the yeare onely lost to me?
        Have I no bayes to crown it?
No flowers, no garlands gay? all blasted?
                  All wasted?
     Not so, my heart: but there is fruit,
                  And thou hast hands.
     Recover all thy sigh-blown age
On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute
Of what is fit and not. Forsake thy cage,
                  Thy rope of sands,
Which pettie thoughts have made, and made to thee
     Good cable, to enforce and draw,
                  And be thy law,
     While thou didst wink and wouldst not see.
                  Away; take heed:
                  I will abroad.
Call in thy deaths head there: tie up thy fears.
                  He that forbears
        To suit and serve his need,
                  Deserves his load.
But as I rav'd and grew more fierce and wilde
                  At every word,
Me thoughts I heard one calling, Child!
                  And I reply'd, My Lord.

The World

Love built a stately house, where Fortune came,
And spinning fancies, she was heard to say
That her fine cobwebs did support the frame,
Whereas they were supported by the same;
But Wisdom quickly swept them all away.

The Pleasure came, who, liking not the fashion,
Began to make balconies, terraces,
Till she had weakened all by alteration;
But reverend laws, and many a proclomation
Reforméd all at length with menaces.

Then entered Sin, and with that sycamore
Whose leaves first sheltered man from drought and dew,
Working and winding slily evermore,
The inward walls and summers cleft and tore;
But Grace shored these, and cut that as it grew.

Then Sin combined with death in a firm band,
To raze the building to the very floor;
Which they effected,--none could them withstand;
But Love and Grace took Glory by the hand,
And built a braver palace than before.

Nature

Full of rebellion, I would die,
Or fight, or travell, or denie
That thou hast ought to do with me.
                          O tame my heart; 
                   It is thy highest art
To captivate strong holds to thee.

If thou shalt let this venome lurk,
And in suggestions fume and work,
My soul will turn to bubbles straight,
                          And thence by kinde
                   Vanish into a winde,
Making thy workmanship deceit.

O smooth my rugged heart, and there
Engrave thy rev’rend law and fear;
Or make a new one, since the old
                          Is saplesse grown,
                   And a much fitter stone
To hide my dust, then thee to hold.