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


¶   Businesse.

           CAnst be idle? canst thou play,
                    Foolish soul who sinn’d to day?

Rivers run, and  springs each one
Know their home, and get them gone:
Hast thou tears, or hast thou none?

If, poore soul, thou hast no tears,
Would thou hadst no faults or fears!
Who hath these, those ill forbears.

Windes still work: it is their plot,
Be the season cold, or hot:
Hast thou sighs, or hast thou not?

If thou hast no sighs or grones,
Would thou hadst no flesh and bones!
Lesser pains scape greater ones.

                    But if yet thou idle be,
                    Foolish soul, Who di’d for thee?

Who did leave his Fathers throne,
To assume thy flesh and bone;
Had he life, or had he none?

If he had not liv’d for thee,
Thou hadst di’d most wretchedly;
And two deaths had been thy fee.

He so farre thy good did plot,
That his own self he forgot.
Did he die, or did he not?

If he had not di’d for thee,
Thou hadst liv’d in miserie.
Two lives worse then ten deaths be.

                    And hath any space of breath
                    ’Twixt his sinnes and Saviours death?

He that loseth gold, though drosse,
Tells to all he meets, his crosse:
He that sinnes, hath he no losse?

He that findes a silver vein,
Thinks on it, and thinks again:
Brings thy Saviours death no gain?

                    Who in heart not ever kneels,
                    Neither sinne nor Saviour feels.

In the age before standardized spelling, the title may be either "Business" or "Busyness." Spiritually speaking they are the same thing unless you are about your Father's Business. [Luke 2:49]

Music Interpretation: "Businesse" in A Major, a failed rondo for SATB, by Red Dragon

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