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


¶    Vanitie. (I)

                   THe fleet Astronomer can bore,
And thred the spheres with his quick-piercing minde:
He views their stations, walks from doore to doore,
                   Surveys, as if he had design’d
To make a purchase there: he sees their dances,
                                And knoweth long before
Both their full-ey’d aspects, and secret glances.

                   The nimble Diver with his side
Cuts through the working waves, that he may fetch
His dearely-earned pearl, which God did hide
                   On purpose from the ventrous wretch:
That he might save his life, and also hers,
                                Who with excessive pride
Her own destruction and his danger wears.

                   The subtil Chymick can devest
And strip the creature naked, till he finde
The callow principles within their nest:
                   There he imparts to them his minde,
Admitted to their bed-chamber, before
                                They appeare trim and drest
To ordinarie suitours at the doore.

                   What hath not man sought out and found,
But his deare God?  who yet his glorious law
Embosomes in us, mellowing the ground
                   With showres and frosts, with love & aw,
So that we need not say, Where’s this command?
                                Poore man, thou searchest round
To finde out death, but missest life at hand.

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