[Third Temple Courts, Model]from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert:






¶    The Temper. (I)

HOw should I praise thee, Lord! how should my rymes
       Gladly engrave thy love in steel,
       If what my soul doth feel sometimes,
	             My soul might ever feel!

Although there were some fortie heav’ns, or more,
       Sometimes I peere above them all;
       Sometimes I hardly reach a score,
	             Sometimes to hell I fall.

O rack me not to such a vast extent;
       Those distances belong to thee:
       The world’s too little for thy tent,
	             A grave too big for me.

Wilt thou meet arms with man, that thou dost stretch
       A crumme of dust from heav’n to hell?
       Will great God measure with a wretch?
	             Shall he thy stature spell?

O let me, when thy roof my soul hath hid,
       O let me roost and nestle there:
       Then of a sinner thou art rid,
	             And I of hope and fear.

Yet take thy way; for sure thy way is best:
       Stretch or contract me, thy poore debter:
       This is but tuning of my breast,
	             To make the musick better.

Whether I flie with angels, fall with dust,
       Thy hands made both, and I am there:
       Thy power and love, my love and trust
	             Make one place ev’ry where.

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, English), "Weep No More Sad Fountains"

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