Posted here for Thanksgiving, today, is George Herbert’s “The Thanksgiving.” I have always loved the profound understanding in the poetry of this man. It was no mistake that we studied this very poem in Early British Literature the day we left for break (and I believe my teacher’s purposeful intention). It is worth posting for the holiday, and is far more eloquent than any expression I could ever give on such a day as this.
By George Herbert
Oh King of grief! (a title strange, yet true,
To you of all kings only due)
Oh King of wounds! how shall I grieve for thee,
Who in all grief preventest me?
Shall I weep blood? why, you have wept such store
That all your body was one door.
Shall I be scourged, flouted, boxed, sold?
‘Tis but to tell the tale is told.
My God, my God, why do you part from me?
Was such a grief as cannot be.
Shall I then sing, skipping your doleful story,
And side with your triumphant glory?
Shall thy strokes be my stroking? thorns, my flower?
Thy rod, my posie? cross, my bower?
But how then shall I imitate you, and
Copy your fair, though bloody hand?
Surely I will revenge me on your love,
And try who shall victorious prove.
If you do give me wealth, I will restore
All back unto you by the poor.
If you do give me honor, men shall see,
The honor does 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 your 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 your passion–But of that anon,
When with the other I have done.
For your predestination I’ll contrive,
That three years hence, if I survive,
I’ll build a hospice, or mend common ways,
And mend mine own without delays.
Then I will use the works of your 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 you, and every string
Shall have his attribute to sing;
That all together may accord in thee,
And prove one God, one harmony.
If you shall give me wit, it shall appear,
If you have given it me, ’tis here.
Nay, I will read your book, and never move
Till I have found therein your love,
Your art of love, which I’ll turn back on thee:
O my dear Savior, Victory!
Then for your passion—I will do for that—
Alas, my God, I know not what.