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

By George Herbert (1593–1633)

The Collar

  I STRUCK 1 the board, and cry’d, No more.
                    I will abroad.
  What? shall I ever sigh and pine?
My lines and life are free; free as the road,
  Loose as the wind, as large as store.        5
        Shall I be still in suit?
  Have I no harvest but a thorn
  To let me blood, and not restore
What I have lost with cordial fruit?
                Sure there was wine        10
    Before my sighs did dry it: there was corn
        Before my tears did drown it.
  Is the year only lost to me?
        Have I no bays to crown it?
No flowers, no garlands gay? all blasted?        15
                    All wasted?
  Not so, my heart: but there is fruit,
                And thou hast hands.
        Recover all thy sigh-blown age
  On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute        20
  Of what is fit and not: forsake thy cage,
                Thy rope of sands,
Which petty thoughts have made, and made to thee
        Good cable, to enforce and draw,
                And be thy law,        25
        While thou didst wink 2 and wouldst not see.
                Away; take heed:
                I will abroad.
Call in thy death’s head there: tie up thy fears.
                He that forbears,        30
            To suit and serve his need,
                Deserves his load.
But as I raved and grew more fierce and wild
                At every word,
        Methought I heard one calling, Child:        35
            And I replied, My Lord.
Note 1. “The Collar” is, of course, conscience, the sense of duty, which in certain moods seems to be only an irritating restraint, self-imposed for no sufficient reason. [back]
Note 2. Shut eyes. [back]