Poetry for Lent: “Repentance” by George Herbert

Today is the commemoration of the Anglican priest and poet, George Herbert, who died on February 27, 1633

Repentance

Lord, I confess my sin is great;
Great is my sin. Oh! gently treat
With thy quick flow’r, thy momentany bloom;
Whose life still pressing
Is one undressing,
A steady aiming at a tomb.

Man’s age is two hours’ work, or three:
Each day doth round about us see.
Thus are we to delights: but we are all
To sorrows old,
If life be told
From what life feeleth, Adam’s fall.

O let thy height of mercy then
Compassionate short-breathed men.
Cut me not off for my most foul transgression:
I do confess
My foolishness;
My God, accept of my confession.

Sweeten at length this bitter bowl,
Which thou hast pour’d into my soul;
Thy wormwood turn to health, winds to fair weather:
For if thou stay,
I and this day,
As we did rise, we die together.

When thou for sin rebukest man,
Forthwith he waxeth woe and wan:
Bitterness fills our bowels; all our hearts
Pine, and decay,
And dropp away,
And carry with them th’other parts.

But thou wilt sin and grief destroy;
That so the broken bones may joy,
And tune together in a well-set song,
Full of his praises,
Who dead men raises;
Fractures well cur’d make us more strong.

 

 

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