[The Temple Colonnade, Detail of Model]from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert:


¶   Assurance.

        O Spiteful bitter thought!
Bitterly spitefull thought!  Couldst thou invent
So high a torture:  Is such poyson bought?
Doubtlesse, but in the way of punishment.
    When wit contrives to meet with thee,
    No such rank poyson can there be.

        Thou said’st but even now,
That all was not so fair, as I conceiv’d,
Betwixt my God and me; that I allow
And coin large hopes, but that I was deceiv’d:
    Either the league was broke, or neare it;
    And, that I had great cause to fear it.

        And what to this? what more
Could poyson, if it had a tongue, expresse?
What is thy aim? wouldst thou unlock the doore
To cold despairs, and gnawing pensivenesse?
    Wouldst thou raise devils?  I see, I know,
    I writ thy purpose long ago.

        But I will to my Father,
Who heard thee say it.  O most gracious Lord,
If all the hope and comfort that I gather,
Were from my self, I had not half a word,
    Not half a letter to oppose
    What is objected by my foes.

        But thou art my desert:1
And in this league, which now my foes invade,
Thou art not onely to perform thy part,
But also mine; as when the league was made
    Thou didst at once thy self indite,
    And hold my hand, while I did write.

        Wherefore if thou canst fail,
Then can thy truth and I: but while rocks stand,
And rivers stirre, thou canst not shrink or quail:
Yea, when both rocks and all things shall disband,
    Then shalt thou be my rock and tower,
    And make their ruine praise thy power.

        Now foolish thought go on,
Spin out thy thread, and make thereof a coat
To hide thy shame: for thou hast cast a bone
Which bounds on thee, and will not down thy throat:
    What for it self love once began,
    Now love and truth will end in man.

1 desert. dessert, what one deserves. [Not "desert," barren place. This is one argument for standardized spelling, or mental flexability.] [Return]

Modern version
1633 Poem Index George Herbert & The Temple Home Page