GOOD FRIDAY

        O my chief good,
How shall I measure out thy blood ?
How shall I count what thee befell,
        And each grief tell?

        Shall I thy woes
Number according to thy foes ?
Or, since one star show'd thy first breath,
        Shall all thy death ?

        Or shall each leaf,
Which falls in Autumn, score a grief?
Or cannot leaves, but fruit, be sign,
        Of the true vine ?

        Then let each hour
Of my whole life one grief devour;
That thy distress through all may run,
        And be my sun.

        Or rather let
My several sins their sorrows get;
That, as each beast his cure doth know,
        Each sin may so.

Since blood is fittest, Lord, to write
Thy sorrows in, and bloody fight;
My heart hath store; write there, where in
One box doth lie both ink and sin :

That when Sin spies so many foes,
Thy whips, thy nails, thy wounds, thy woes,
All come to lodge there, Sin may say,
No room for me, and fly away.

Sin being gone, O fill the place,
And keep possession with thy grace;
Lest sin take courage and return,
And all the writings blot or burn.


by George Herbert 1593-1633
source: The Poetical Works Of George Herbert, ed. George Gilfillan. Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1853

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