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


¶   H. Baptisme. (I)

AS he that sees a dark and shadie grove,
        Stays not, but looks beyond it on the skie;
        So when I view my sinnes, mine eyes remove
More backward still, and to that water flie,

Which is above the heav’ns, whose spring and vent
        Is in my deare Redeemers pierced side.
        O blessed streams! either ye do prevent
And stop our sinnes from growing thick and wide,

Or else give tears to drown them, as they grow.
        In you Redemption measures all my time,
        And spreads the plaister equall to the crime.
You taught the Book of Life my name, that so

        What ever future sinnes should me miscall,
        Your first acquaintance might discredit all.

Modern version


¶   H. Baptisme. ( II )

                                          SInce, Lord, to thee
                       A narrow way and little gate
Is all the passage, on my infancie
                       Thou didst lay hold, and antedate
                                          My faith in me.

                                          O let me still
                       Write thee great God, and me a childe:
Let me be soft and supple to thy will,
                       Small to my self, to others milde,
                                          Behither1 ill.

                                          Although by stealth
                       My flesh get on, yet let her sister
My soul bid nothing, but preserve her wealth:
                       The growth of flesh is but a blister;
                                          Childhood is health.

1 behither. short of; barring; save. [This line quoted in Oxford English Dictionary .] [ Return ]

Compare and Contrast with Wordsworth’s Ode on Intimations of Immortality .

Editor’s note: In the 1633 edition, both these poems are on the same page with titles and horizontal rule as above, without numbering.

Note on Sonnet form and organization.

1633 Poem Index George Herbert & The Temple Home Page