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


¶   Easter wings.

Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
   Though foolishly he lost the same,
      Decaying more and more,
        Till he became
           Most poore:
           With  thee
        Oh let me rise
   As larks, harmoniously,
  And sing this day  thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My  tender  age  in  sorrow   did   beginne:
   And still with sicknesses and shame
      Thou  didst  so  punish  sinne,
         That  I  became
           Most thinne.
           With  thee
        Let me combine
      And feel this day thy victorie:
   For,  if  I  imp  my  wing  on  thine
Affliction shall  advance the  flight in  me.

Editor's note: The poem is usually printed in modern anthologies as seen above. In the 1633 edition. the poem is printed as seen in the scanned copy below, making it look more like its title.

'Easter-wings' from THE TEMPLE 1633

This is the Bodleian MS (also called MS Tanner) page 1 of "Easter-wings:

For a different placement see copies of the Williams Manuscript (also called MS. Jones B 62 in Dr. Williams Library):

[Easter Wings MS page1] [Easter Wings MS page 2]

Related Criticism:

Joseph Addison, in The Spectator, No. 58, Monday, May 7, 1711, argued against ancient Greek poems in the shape of eggs, &c. as false wit. He continued:

     Mr. Dryden hints at this obsolete kind of Wit [shaped poems] in one of the following Verses in his Mac Fleckno; which an English Reader cannot understand, who does not know that there are those little Poems abovementioned in the Shape of Wings and Altars.
       . . . Chuse for thy Command
Some peaceful Province in Acrostick Land;
There may'st thou Wings display, and Altars raise,
And torture one poor Word a thousand Ways.
     This Fashion of false Wit was revived by several Poets of the last Age, and in particular may be met with among Mr. Herbert's Poems; . . . .
    Professor's rebuttal (without degrading Addison's perception or gift for expression): When devices are dropped into/on to a work, they are just ornaments scattered on pseudo-art/kitsch (in this Addison rings true). When ornaments are integrated into the meaning of the work, they loose their ornamentation and become part of the meaning, working together in the poem. Herbert converted the use of popular devices and tricks of his day into his vision of the world, giving an understanding beyond the mundane. [In a similar way that God takes clay and makes something better out of it.] (JRA)
   Art Student's Addenda: This is the difference between Baroque and Classical Art. Baroque art is famous for its ornaments, but details support the concept of the work in Classical Art.
   Music Student's Coda: The history of music classes Bach as baroque, but his "ornaments" advance and echo the message of the piece and hold the entire work together. As Albert Schweitzer shows concerning the Preludes for Organ. In this way Bach was closer to the Classic Period than most give him credit.
The following is quoted "as is" from a University of Texas at Austin page no longer on the Internet:

Interchange 7 on
George Herbert

Herbert II

Leslie Barnett:
"Easter Wings"
"With thee
Let me combine,
And feel this day thy victories:
For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight on me."

Ifeel that this poem is saying that you can't just "create" someone then leave them on their own to grow. They will not grow into a strong person with good qualities. A person needs nurturing, love, and support before they can take "flight" on their own. the last line says this more directly, if he puts his wing just over the other persons then their strenght will push him to be strong and begin his own flight. The reference to the Lord's creation of man is only symbolic, I feel that he is speaking indirectly about parenting and society's affect on a person.

Cecile Coneway:
I do not understand what the last line ("Affliction shall advance the flight on me") is saying. How does affliction fit into it?

Todd Erickson:
Why is the reference to the Lord's creation only symbolic??

Colleen Ignacio:
Knowing Herbert, it was probably strictly about religion.

Leslie Barnett:
i think affliction means like friction, when the one wing moves and begins flight the other will recieve the initial push to do the same.

Todd Erickson:
Flight could have multiple meanings:
uplifting of spirit, or running away

Shannon Byrne:
I felt that he was talking about man and the creation. I thought he was saying that God created man and gave man everything, yet man "foolishly" lost what he gave and became more and more corrupt. The poet is asking for God to let him sing the Lord's praises and by so doing he will fall in the sight of others and this fall will enable him to be closer to God.

Todd Erickson:
Shannon why does he use 'fall'??? That sounds so counterproductive , when he's wanting to fly.

Alicia Lane Jones:
Correct me if I am wrong,however, if we look at the title, maybe THIS poem reflects the second coming of Christ - didn't that happen on Easter - or does easter refer to something else?

Kalisha James:
Affliction seems to mean some sort of punishment in this passage. It advancing the flight in me refers to punishment maybe leading the speaker to do right and therefore advancing his flight to heaven.

Shannon Byrne:
I thought affliction meant that if he is hurt by others because he is "flying" with God his "flight " will advance or his life will be happier.

Chad Dow:
I think that he is asking God to forgive him for all the wrong things he has done. He is simply wanting to be ackowledge by God and asking for help and strength to change and correct his life, so that he can sing wonderful praises up to God.

Jignesh Bhakta:
Alicia, you are right it is a poem of the second coming of Chrisr

Shannon Byrne:
I'm not really sure except maybe he means fall from the graces of society. Maybe he's thinking that if he follows God he will be persecuted.

Leslie Barnett:
another part that seems to support this interpretation would be:
"And still with sickness and shame
Thou didst so punish sinne,
That I became
Most thinne."
it seems to be refering to societies tedency to shy away from those that need help the most. when someone looks sickly we don't want to help and that only makes it worse. agood example would be the homeless.

Xavier Alfaro:
colleen ....i agree, it had to be about religion. he must be casting a sermon down. the wings will only protect you for so long. soon you must make choices. make the right one or else. what the else is, i do not know

Kalisha James:
Alicia, I think you're onto something. Easter is about the rising of Christ. It coould, in fact be speaking of the second rising of Christ.

Shannon Byrne:
I think your right.

Jignesh Bhakta:
What is the deal with the shape of the poem?

Alicia Lane Jones:
you know when you are born you don't have any memory of God - it may take a while to find him again. Maybe this is saying that at his tender age he was foolish and not looking in the right places, but now he has found God and wants to fly

Todd Erickson:
wings wings

Chad Dow:
I think it is to symbolize the wings and the uplifiting flight the guy is about to go on.

Leslie Barnett:
i feel that in both "redemption" and this poem i failed to see the religious connections/interpretations but what shannon said about this poem and what we discussed in class do make sense.

Shannon Byrne:
wha does That I became most thinne mean?

Xavier Alfaro:
Alicia....you are getting pretty deep. I kind of agree though

Kalisha James:
Jignesh, I think the shape resembles a bird, possibly a dove. A dove is used a lot in the Bible to symbolize some sort of overcoming or redemption, the title does also have the word "wings" in it.

Cecile Coneway:
I thought the quote "And still with sickness and shame\Thou didst so punish sinne,\That I became\Most thinne" is illustrating God's way of letting people deal with their sins and suffer their consequences regardless of their physical state.

Leslie Barnett:
looking at your interpretation i think maybe he became thin because sin was punished with sickness and he was sinning by not believing or following?

Kalisha James:
Shannon, I know you asked Alicia, but i think of "thinne" meaning a moral thinness. Obviously the speaker has done some wrongs in order to be punished.

Shannon Byrne:
Is "Thinne" thin or thine

Colleen Ignacio:
I think in his own personal way, he's renewing his vows with God. Easter probably had something to do with it. He says: "My tender age in sorrow did beginne. . .that I became most thinne." He's remembering what part God plays in his life and wants to continue down that path.

Cecile Coneway:
Shannon: I think it's thin.

Xavier Alfaro:
i do to

Cecile Coneway:
It's kind of neat the way the poem's shape becomes the narrowest when it says "Most thinne".

Shannon Byrne:
If its moral thinness what do the lines before it mean

Alicia Lane Jones:
Do you all think thinne refers to thin or thine?

Leslie Barnett:
what is thine?

Xavier Alfaro:
thin. what's thine

Jignesh Bhakta:

Leslie Barnett:
oh, maybe most his?

Kalisha James:
Alicia, Are you saying that before we are born we know God, but when we are born we forget Him?

Shannon Byrne:
thine means that this poet is God's

Cecile Coneway:
Most his?

Leslie Barnett:
thy, thine

Alicia Lane Jones:
thine means yours

Vocal arrangement of Easter Wings (White, Medium-high voice and piano, 430-411 For Sale.)

Background: song of a true lark
Optional music: Welsh folksong "Rising of the Lark" arranged by Red Dragon

Modern version
1633 Poem Index Links to Criticism George Herbert & The Temple Home Page