Friday, March 26, 2010


The second poem defined the topic of this post. Mine isn't one of my favorites, but I really liked it when I wrote it. I suppose it's a snapshot of me, so OK to share. I do really like the development of George Herbert's image and its sudden resolution that is only a beginning.

“Neither did their own arms save them”
            Psalm 44:3

Fatigued, my arms had let me fall and then
They picked me up and climbed and fell again.
My mind then tired and asked my arms if still,
In their fatigue and hurt, they had the will
To reach the top? Or was there happiness
In doing good below with tiredness
Less great, if also strength was less? For arms
Unspent still more can give than wasted arms.

In wisdom arms of parents took new hold
Of my young life that they had let unfold
A bit alone, and stood me up and said,
“You know you want to climb. With lifted head
You’ll climb to reach the top, but you must do
Good works along the way and seek what’s true.
And even if you never reach the top
You have to love the climb and never stop.”

Then life returned and I began to climb
And work and share and do some good, and time
Began to make me smile and lose some pride;
No longer did I seek a place to hide,
But seek to climb and not concern my mind
With how high was the top and who would find
That I was so far down and climbing slow
With hardly strength of will to even go.

But then I found a friend and strength to pull
As I thought more of her than of the role
I wasn’t playing as I thought I should.
There, climbing up to her, the climb was good.
She offered me her arms as I came near
And gave me strength and hope, and took my fear
That made me fall, and held me with kind care.
When I could climb no more, I rested there.

Then it was time to climb again alone.
I left my friend and parents and my home.
I had to help some others farther down,
But still I felt the lifting arms surround
And help me climb to places I would not
Have reached, for by myself not strength nor thought
Were great enough.  I also felt a part
Of them. With them I opened up my heart.

Then all changed. The lifting arms were gone,
And all my strength was asked to just hang on.

Our Father then uncovered his strong arm,
Which through all things protected me from harm,
And picked me up and said, "You want to reach
The top, but you must help to climb, and teach,
And love to learn from all that you will know.
For all alone the way’s too hard to go.
To two together I will give my hand
And in your climb lift you to higher land.


Having been tenant long to a rich Lord,
Not thriving, I resolved to be bold,
And make a suit unto Him, to afford
A new small-rented lease, and cancel th’ old.
In heaven at His manor I Him sought:
They told me there, that He was lately gone
About some land, which He had dearly bought
Long since on Earth, to take possession.
I straight returned, and knowing His great birth,
Sought Him accordingly in great resorts—
In cities, theatres, gardens, parks, and courts:
At length I heard a ragged noise and mirth
   Of thieves and murderers; there I Him espied,
   Who straight, “Your suit is granted,” said, and died.

        George Herbert 1593-1633

1 comment:

  1. Your poem may not be one of your favorites, but you will have to go a long way to write a poem that would be more touching to your father.