[Wailing Wall,
  Jerusalem]George Herbert: "The Church-porch"

Day 12: Morning


Look to thy mouth; diseases enter there.

Thou hast two sconses, if thy stomach call;

Carve, or discourse; do not a famine fear.

Who carves, is kind to two; who talks, to all.

   Look on meat, think it dirt, then eat a bit;

   And say withall, Earth to earth I commit.

     Look to your mouth; diseases enter there. You have two tubes, if your hunger arises; food and conversation; do not fear a famine. Who serves food is kind to two people; who talks is kind to all who hear. Look on meat, think it dirt, then eat a bit; and say, as you eat, "Earth to earth I commit."

     A sconce is a candlestick or the tube that holds the candle. Herbert sees the mouth as two empty candlesticks, one to be filled with food giving light to two people, the cook and the diner, and a second receptacle to receive communication and give off light in conversation to all who can hear. There is no question which is more important. Conversation administers kindness to everyone. The mutual humanity of dialogue helps the understanding of several people. It unites them in effort and appreciation. Conversation and working together form the most lasting bonds of friendship. This sort of communication is not the self concerned or self serving type. This is the better use for the mouth.

     The less preferred sconce is eating. See the meat, and food in general, as dirt; once it was alive, but now it is dead. After you have conceived it as dirt, then eat a little. If you have truly seen the food as dirt, you will not want much. To go even farther, consider the meal a funeral rite, a proof of your mortality and a renewal of your spiritual awareness. Say: "Earth to earth I commit" for your grace before meals.

© 1997 J. R. Arner

Go To Next Stanza

Go Back To the Index:

By Day

By Subject

Go To George Herbert: "The Church-porch", Introduction

Go To George Herbert & The Temple Home Page