O king of grief! (a title strange, yet true,
To thee of all kings only due)
O King of wounds! how shall I grieve for thee,
Who in all grief preventest me ?
Shall I weep blood ? why, thou hast wept such store,
That all thy body was one door.
Shall I be scourged, flouted, boxed, sold ?
'Tis but to tell the tale is told.
My God, my God, why dost thou part from me ?
Was such a grief as cannot be.
Shall I then sing, skipping, thy doleful story,
And side with thy triumphant glory ?
Shall thy strokes be my stroking 1 thorns, my flower ?
Thy rod, my posie ? cross, my bower ?
But how then shall I imitate thee, and
Copy thy fair, though bloody hand ?
Surely I will revenge me on thy love,
And try who shall victorious prove.
If thou dost give me wealth; I will restore
All back unto thee by the poor.
If thou dost give me honour; men shall see,
The honour doth belong to thee.
I will not marry ; or, if she be mine,
She and her children shall be thine.
My bosom-friend, if he blaspheme thy name,
I will tear thence his love and fame.
One half of me being gone, the rest I give
Unto some Chapel, die or live.
As for thy passion—but of that anon,
When with the other I have done.
For thy predestination, I'll contrive,
That three years hence, if I survive,
I'll build a spital, or mend common ways,
But mend my own without delays.
Then I will use the works of thy creation,
As if I used them but for fashion.
The world and I will quarrel; and the year
Shall not perceive, that I am here.
My music shall find thee, and every string
Shall have his attribute to sing;
That altogether may accord in thee,
And prove one God, one harmony.
If thou shalt give me wit, it shall appear,
If thou hast given it me, 'tis here.
Nay, I will read thy book, and never move
Till I have found therein thy love;
Thy art of love, which I'll turn back on thee,
O my dear Saviour, Victory!
Then for thy passion—I will do for that—
Alas ! my God, I know not what.
by George Herbert 1593-1633
source: The Poetical Works Of George Herbert, ed. George Gilfillan. Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1853
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