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


¶    The Pilgrimage.

I Travell’d on, seeing the hill, where lay
                                         My expectation.
                 A long it was and weary way.
                 The gloomy cave of Desperation
I left on th’ one, and on the other side
                                         The rock of Pride.

And so I came to phancies medow strow’d
                                         With many a flower:
                 Fain would I here have made abode,
                 But I was quicken’d by my houre.
So to cares cops1 I came, and there got through
                                         With much ado.

That led me to the wilde of Passion, which
                                         Some call the wold;
                 A wasted place, but sometimes rich.
                 Here I was robb’d of all my gold,
Save one good Angell,2 which a friend had ti’d
                                         Close to my side.

At length I got unto the gladsome hill,
                                         Where lay my hope,
                 Where lay my heart; and climbing still,
                 When I had gain’d the brow and top,
A lake of brackish waters on the ground
                                         Was all I found.

With that abash’d and struck with many a sting
                                         Of swarming fears,
                 I fell, and cry’d, Alas my King!
                 Can both the way and end be tears?
Yet taking heart I rose, and then perceiv’d
                                         I was deceiv’d:

My hill was further: so I flung away,
                                         Yet heard a crie
                 Just as I went, None goes that way
                 And lives: If that be all, said I,
After so foul a journey death is fair,
                                         And but a chair.

An Angel1 cops (copse). The underwood of a wood or forest. (This line from Herbert is cited in Oxford English Dictionary.)  [Return]
2 Angel - Also an Elizabethan coin with a figure of St. Michael fighting the dragon. [See graphic at right. Return]

See John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Stage Three:

I beheld then, that they all went on till they came to the foot of the hill Difficulty, at the bottom of which there was a spring. There were also in the same place two other ways besides that which came straight from the gate: one turned to the left hand, and the other to the right, at the bottom of the hill; but the narrow way lay right up the hill, and the name of the going up the side of the hill is called Difficulty. Christian now went to the spring, (Isa. 49:10), and drank thereof to refresh himself, and then began to go up the hill, saying,
‘The hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend;
For I perceive the way to life lies here:
Come, pluck up heart, let’s neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.’

See also: "Christian Allegory in the Seventeenth Century: A Comparison of George Herbert and John Bunyan" by Rebecca Branham Dimon

Music Interpretation:

  • "Unfinished Tone Poem: Pilgrimage" by Red Dragon  Open music in an other program.
  • "Pilgrimage" in G minor, for tenor and guitar by Red Dragon  Open music in an other program.

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