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from The Temple
by George Herbert
(first published 1633)


Prayer (I)
PRAYER the Churches banquet, Angels age, 
        Gods breath in man returning to his birth, 
        The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage, 
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth ; 

Engine against th’ Almightie, sinner's towre, 
        Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear, 
        The six daies world-transposing in an houre, 
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear ; 

Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse, 
        Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best, 
        Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest, 
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise, 

        Church-bels beyond the stars heard, the souls bloud, 
        The land of spices, something understood. 

                        Prayer (II)

OF what an easie quick accesse, 
My blessed Lord, art thou !  how suddenly 
            May our requests thine eare invade ! 
To shew that state dislikes not easinesse, 
If I but lift mine eyes, my suit is made : 
Thou canst no more not heare, than thou canst die. 

            Of what supreme almightie power 
Is thy great arm which spans the east and west, 
            And tacks the centre to the sphere ! 
By it do all things live their measur’d houre : 
We cannot ask the thing, which is not there, 
Blaming the shallownesse of our request. 

            Of what unmeasurable love 
Art thou possest, who, when thou couldst not die, 
            Wert fain to take our flesh and curse, 
And for our sakes in person sinne reprove ; 
That by destroying that which ty’d thy purse, 
Thou mightst make way for liberalitie ! 

            Since then these three wait on thy throne, 
Ease, Power, and Love ;  I value prayer so, 
            That were I to leave all but one, 
Wealth, fame, endowments, vertues, all should go ; 
I and deare prayer would together dwell, 
And quickly gain, for each inch lost, an ell.