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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Elizabethan Verse. 1907.

The Flower

George Herbert (1593–1633)

HOW fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean

Are thy returns! Ev’n as the flowers in Spring,

To which, besides their own demean,

The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring;

Grief melts away

Like snow in May,

As if there were no such cold thing.

Who would have thought my shrivell’d heart

Could have recover’d greenness? It was gone

Quite under ground; as flowers depart

To see their mother-root, when they have blown,

Where they together

All the hard weather,

Dead to the world, keep house unknown.

These are Thy wonders, Lord of power,

Killing and quick’ning, bringing down to Hell

And up to Heaven in an hour;

Making a chiming of a passing bell.

We say amiss

This or that is;

Thy word is all, if we could spell.

O that I once past changing were,

Fast in thy Paradise where no flower can wither!

Many a Spring I shoot up fair,

Off’ring at Heaven, growing and groaning thither;

Nor doth my flower

Want a Spring shower,

My sins and I joining together.

But while I grow in a straight line,

Still upwards bent, as if Heaven were mine own,

Thy anger comes, and I decline;

What frost to that? What pole is not the zone

Where all things burn,

When Thou dost turn,

And the least frown of Thine is shown?

And now in age I bud again,

After so many deaths I live and write;

I once more smell the dew and rain,

And relish versing: O my only Light!

—It cannot be

That I am he

On whom Thy tempests fell all night.

These are Thy wonders, Lord of love,

To make us see we are but flowers that glide;

Which when we once can find and prove,

Thou hast a garden for us where to bide.

Who would be more,

Swelling through store,

Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.