[The Inner and Outer Courts of the Temple, Detail of Model]from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert:


¶    Sighs and Grones.

                                      O Do not use me
After my sinnes! look not on my desert,
But on thy glorie! Then thou wilt reform
And not refuse me: for thou onely art
The mightie God, but I a sillie worm;
                                      O do not bruise me!

                                      O do not urge me!
For what account can thy ill steward make?
I have abus’d thy stock, destroy’d thy woods,
Suckt all thy magazens:1 my head did ake,
Till it found out how to consume thy goods:
                                      O do not scourge me!

                                      O do not blinde me!
I have deserv’d that an Egyptian night
Should thicken all my powers; because my lust
Hath still sow’d fig-leaves to exclude thy light:
But I am frailtie, and already dust;
                                      O do not grinde me!

                                      O do not fill me
With the turn’d viall of thy bitter wrath!
For thou hast other vessels full of bloud,
A part whereof my Saviour empti’d hath,
Ev’n unto death: since he di’d for my good,
                                      O do not kill me!

                                      But O reprieve me!
For thou hast life and death at thy command;
Thou art both Judge and Saviour, feast and rod,
Cordiall and Corrosive:  put not thy hand
Into the bitter box; but O my God,
                                      My God, relieve me!

1 magazens. storehouses. [Return]

Criticism: "Unstrung Conversations: Herbert's Negotiations with God" by Susannah B. Mintz. Philological Quarterly, Wntr 1998 v77 i1 p41(1). [Poems cited: "Prayer (I)," "Praise (II)," "Holdfast," "Longing," "The Collar," "Sighs and Groans," "Deniall," "Clasping of Hands," "Content," "Temper (I)."]

Music: John Dowland (c.1563-1626), "If That a Sinner’s Sighs."

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