[The Temple Court]from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert:


¶   Confession.

                  O What a cunning guest
Is this same grief! within my heart I made
      Closets; and in them many a chest;
      And, like a master in my trade,
In those chests, boxes; in each box, a till:
Yet grief knows all, and enters when he will.

                  No scrue, no piercer can
Into a piece of timber work and winde,
      As Gods afflictions into man,
      When he a torture hath design’d.
They are too subtill for the subt’llest hearts;
And fall, like rheumes,1 upon the tendrest parts.

                  We are the earth; and they,
Like moles within us, heave, and cast about:
      And till they foot and clutch their prey,
      They never cool, much lesse give out.
No smith can make such locks but they have keyes:
Closets are halls to them; and hearts, high-wayes.

                  Onely an open breast
Doth shut them out, so that they cannot enter;
      Or, if they enter, cannot rest,
      But quickly seek some new adventure.
Smooth open hearts no fastning have; but fiction
Doth give a hold and handle to affliction.

                  Wherefore my faults and sinnes,
Lord, I acknowledge; take thy plagues away:
      For since confession pardon winnes,
      I challenge here the brightest day,
The clearest diamond: let them do their best,
They shall be thick and cloudie to my breast.

1 rheumes. watery matter from eyes, nose, ears, etc.; said to cause disease. (Oxford English Dictionary) One of the Outlandish Proverbs #475 reads: "Wealth is like rheume, it falles on the weakest parts." [Return]

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