Home  »  Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse  »  The Pilgrimage

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

By George Herbert (1593–1633)

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        5
                The rock of Pride.
And so I came to Fancy’s meadow strow’d
                With many a flower:
        Fain would I here have made abode,
        But I was quicken’d by my hour.        10
So to Care’s copse I came, and there got through
                With much ado.
That led me to the wild of Passion, which
                Some call the wold; 1
        A wasted place, but sometimes rich.        15
        Here I was robb’d of all my gold,
Save one good Angel, which a friend had tied
                Close to my side.
At length I got unto the gladsome hill,
                Where lay my hope,        20
        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        25
                Of swarming fears,
        I fell, and cried, Alas, my King;
        Can both the way and end be tears?
Yet taking heart I rose, and then perceived
                I was deceived:        30
My hill was further; so I flung away,
                Yet heard a cry
        Just as I went, None goes that way
        And lives. If that be all, said I,
After so foul a journey death is fair,        35
                And but a chair. 2
Note 1. Line 14.—Which some call the wold. Why Herbert adds this is not clear: it can hardly be only for rhyme’s sake. A friend suggests that there is a pun on “would.” He probably had in his mind Salisbury Plain, which in some parts of England, such as Lincolnshire, would no doubt have been called a “wold.” The play on angel, and the coin so called, is perhaps obvious. [back]
Note 2. Line 36.—A chair; our more luxurious generation might say, a couch. [back]