George Herbert, Three Poems on Love

Love I.

Immortal Love, author of this great frame,
   Sprung from that beauty which can never fade;
   How hath man parcel’d out thy glorious name,
And thrown it on that dust which thou hast made,

While mortal love doth all the title gain!
   Which siding with invention, they together
   Bear all the sway, possessing heart and brain,
(Thy workmanship) and give thee share in neither.

Wit fancies beauty, beauty raiseth wit:
   The world is theirs; they two play out the game,
   Thou standing by: and though thy glorious name
Wrought our deliverance from th’ infernal pit,

   Who sings thy praise? only a scarf or glove
   Doth warm our hands, and make them write of love

 

Love II.

Immortal Heat, O let thy greater flame
   Attract the lesser to it: Let those fires,
   Which shall consume the world, first make it tame;
And kindle in our hearts such true desires,

As may consume our lusts, and make thee way.
   Then shall our hearts pant thee; then shall our brain
   All her invention on thine Altar lay,
And there in hymns send back thy fire again:

Our eyes shall see thee, which before saw dust;
   Dust blown by wit, till that they both were blind:
   Thou shalt recover all thy goods in kind,
Who wert disseized by usurping lust:

   All knees shall bow to thee; all wits shall rise,
   And praise him who did make and mend our eyes.

Love III

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
                    Guilty of dust and sinne.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
                    From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
                    If I lack’d any thing.

A guest, I answer’d, worthy to be here:
                    Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungratefull?  Ah my dear,
                    I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
                    Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame
                    Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
                    My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
                    So I did sit and eat.

"All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." -- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding