Making drudgery divine?

The elixir

Teach me, my God and King, In all things thee to see,

And what I do in any thing, To do it as for thee:

Not rudely, as a beast,

To run into an action;

But still to make thee prepossessed [put first],

And give it his perfection.

A man that looks on glass,

On it may stay [keep] his eye; Or if he pleases, through it pass,

And then the heaven espy [see].

All may of thee partake:

Nothing can be so mean, Which with this tincture (for thy sake)[1]

Will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause

Makes drudgery divine:

Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,

Makes that and the action fine.

This is the famous stone

That turneth all to gold:

For that which God doth touch and own

Cannot for less be told.

The collar

I struck the board [table], and cried, “No more. I will abroad.

What? shall I ever sigh and pine?

My lines and life are free; free as the road,

Loose as the wind, as large as store. Shall I be still in suit?

Have I no harvest but a thorn

To let me blood, and not restore What I have lost with cordial fruit?

Sure there was wine Before my sighs did dry it: there was corn

Before my tears did drown it. Is the year only lost to me?

Have I no bays [gatherings of flowers] to crown it? No flowers, no garlands gay? all blasted?

All wasted? Not so, my heart: but there is fruit,

And thou hast hands. Recover all thy sigh-blown age

On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute Of what is fit, and not. Forsake thy cage,

Thy rope of sands,

Which petty thoughts have made, and made to thee

Good cable [rope], to enforce and draw, And be thy law,

While thou didst wink and wouldst not see. Away; take heed:

I will abroad.

Call in thy death’s head there: tie up thy fears.

He that forbears To suit and serve his need, Deserves his load.”

But as I raved and grew more fierce and wild At every word,

Me thoughts I heard one calling, Child: And I replied, My Lord.

From The Temple (1633). Spelling and punctuation modernized.

[1 A “tincture” is a small amount that is added to affect the whole.]

By George Herbert

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #110 in 2014]

Geroge Herbert was an Anglican priest and poet.
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