How should I praise thee, Lord! how should my rhymes
     Gladly engrave thy love in steel,
     If what my soul doth feel sometimes,
My soul might ever feel!

Although there were some forty heavens, or more.
     Sometimes I peer above them all;
     Sometimes I hardly reach a score,
          Sometimes to hell I fall.

O rack me not to such a vast extent;
     Those distances belong to thee:
     The world's too little for thy tent,
          A grave too big for me

Wilt thou meet arms with man, that thou dost stretch
     A crumb of dust from heaven to hell?
     Will great God measure with a wretch?
          Shall he thy stature spell?

O let me, when thy roof my soul hath hid,
     O let me roost and nestle there:
     Then of a sinner thou art rid,
          And I of hope and fear.

Yet take thy way; for sure thy way is best:
     Stretch or contract me thy poor debtor:
     This is but tuning of my breast,
          To make the music better.

Whether I fly with angels, fall with dust,
     Thy hands made both, and I am there.
     Thy power and love, my love and trust,
          Make one place every where.

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

Previous | Contents | Next