MacMillan's Reading Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 236 pages of information about MacMillan's Reading Books.

          Since, then, My God, Thou hast
       So brave a palace built, O dwell in it,
          That it may dwell with Thee at last! 
          Till then afford us so much wit
       That, as the world serves us, we may serve Thee,
          And both thy servants be.

GEORGE HERBERT.

[Notes:  George Herbert (1593-1632).  A clergyman of the Church of England, the author of many religious works in prose and poetry.  His poetry is overfull of conceits, but in spite of these is eminently graceful and rich with fancy.

The stars have its to led, i.e., conduct, or show us to bed.

All things unto our flesh are kind, &c., i.e., as they minister to the needs of our body here below, so they minister to the mind by leading us to think of the Higher Cause that brings them into being.  The words descent and accent are not to be pressed; they are rather balanced one against the other, according to the fashion of the day.]

* * * * *

VIRTUE.

Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky,
The dew shall weep thy fall to-night;

                        For thou must die.

Sweet rose, whose hue, angry and brave,
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,
Thy root is ever in its grave,

                        And thou must die.

Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie,
My music shows ye have your closes,

                        And all must die.

Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
Like seasoned timber, never gives;
But though the whole world turn to coal,

                        Then chiefly lives.

GEORGE HERBERT.

[Note:——­The bridal of the earth and sky, i.e., in which all the beauties of sky and earth are united.]

* * * * *

DEATH THE CONQUEROR.

The glories of our blood and state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against fate: 
Death lays his icy hand on kings: 
Sceptre and crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.

Some men with swords may reap the field,
And plant fresh laurels where they kill;
But their strong nerves at last must yield,
They tame but one another still. 
Early or late
They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath,
When they, pale captives, creep to death.

The garlands wither on your brow,
Then boast no more your mighty deeds;
Upon death’s purple altar now
See, where the victor-victim bleeds;
All heads must come
To the cold tomb,
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet, and blossom in their dust.

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MacMillan's Reading Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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