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


¶   Content.

PEace mutt’ring thoughts, and do not grudge to keep
                     Within the walls of your own breast:
Who cannot on his own bed sweetly sleep,
                     Can on anothers hardly rest.

Gad not abroad at ev’ry quest and call
                     Of an untrained hope or passion.
To court each place or fortune that doth fall,
                      Is wantonnesse in contemplation.

Mark how the fire in flints doth quiet lie,
                     Content and warm t’ it self alone:
But when it would appeare to others eye,
                     Without a knock it never shone.

Give me the pliant minde, whose gentle measure
                      Complies and suits with all estates;
Which can let loose to a crown, and yet with pleasure
                     Take up within a cloisters gates.

This soul doth span the world, and hang content
                     From either pole unto the centre:
Where in each room of the well-furnisht tent
                     He lies warm, and without adventure.

The brags of life are but a nine dayes wonder;
                     And after death the fumes that spring
From private bodies make as big a thunder,
                     As those which rise from a huge King.

Onely thy Chronicle is lost; and yet
                     Better by worms be all once spent,
Then to have hellish moths still knaw and fret
                     Thy name in books, which may not rent:

When all thy deeds, whose brunt thou feel’st alone,
                     Are chaw’d by others pens and tongue;
And as their wit is, their digestion,
                     Thy nourisht fame is weak or strong.

Then cease discoursing soul, till thine own ground,
                     Do not thy self or friends importune.
He that by seeking hath himself once found,
                     Hath ever found a happie fortune.

Editors Note: Stanza 2 comments on The Collar.

1633 Poem Index George Herbert & The Temple Home Page