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Henry Charles Beeching, ed. (1859–1919). Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse. 1903.

By George Herbert (1593–1633)

Man’s Medley

        HARK, 1 how the birds do sing,
            And woods do ring.
All creatures have their joy: and man hath his.
        Yet if we rightly measure,
            Man’s joy and pleasure        5
Rather hereafter, than in present, is.
        To this life things of sense
            Make their pretence;
In th’ other angels have a right by birth:
        Man ties them both alone,        10
            And makes them one,
With th’ one hand touching heav’n, with th’ other earth.
        In soul he mounts and flies,
            In flesh he dies,
He wears a stuff whose thread is coarse and round,        15
        But trimm’d with curious lace,
            And should take place,
After the trimming not the stuff and ground.
        Not that he may not here
            Taste of the cheer,        20
But as birds drink, and straight lift up their head,
        So must he sip and think
            Of better drink
He may attain to after he is dead.
        But as his joys are double,        25
            So is his trouble.
He hath two winters, other things but one;
        Both frosts and thoughts do nip,
            And bite his lip;
And he of all things fears two deaths alone.        30
        Yet ev’n the greatest griefs
            May be reliefs,
Could he but take them right, and in their ways.
        Happy is he, whose heart
            Hath found the art        35
To turn his double pains to double praise.
Note 1. The thought in this poem is clearer than the expression. Man has double joys and sorrows answering to his double nature, but the soul’s joys are to be preferred as lasting into the world beyond. [back]