The Visions of England eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 127 pages of information about The Visions of England.

AT BEMERTON

1630-1633

Sick with the strife of tongues, the blustering hate
Of frantic Party raving o’er the realm,
Sonorous insincerities of debate,
And jealous factions snatching at the helm,
And Out o’er-bidding In with graceless strife,
Selling the State for votes:—­O happy fields,
I cried, where Herbert, by the world misprized,
   Found in his day the life
That no unrest or disappointment yields,
Vergilian vision here best realized!

His memory is Peace:  and peace is here;—­
The eternal lullaby of the level brook,
With bird-like chirpings mingled, glassy-clear;
The narrow pathway to the yew-clipp’d nook;
Trim lawn, familiar to the pensive feet;
The long gray walls he raised:—­A household nest
Where Hope and firm-eyed Faith and heavenly Love
   Made human love more sweet;
While,—­earth’s rare visitant from the choirs above,—­
Urania’s holy steps the cottage blest.

Peace there:—­and peace upon the house of God,
The little road-side church that room-like stands
Crouching entrench’d in slopes of daisy sod,
And duly deck’d by Herbert-honouring hands:—­
Cell of detachment!  Shrine to which the heart
Withdraws, and all the roar of life is still;
Then sinks into herself, and finds a shrine
   Within the shrine apart: 
Alone with God, as on the Arabian hill
Man knelt in vision to the All-divine!

—­Thrice happy they,—­and know their happiness,—­
Who read the soul’s star-orbit Heaven-ward clear;
Not roving comet-like through doubt and guess,
But ’neath their feet tread nescient pride and fear;
Scan the unseen with sober certainty,
God’s hill above Himalah;—­Love green earth
With deeper, truer love, because the blue
   Of Heaven around they see;—­
Who in the death-gasp hail man’s second birth,
And yield their loved ones with a brief adieu!

—­Thee, too, esteem I happy in thy death,
Poet! while yet peace was, and thou might’st live
Unvex’d in thy sweet reasonable faith,
The gracious creed that knows how to forgive:—­
Not narrowing God to self,—­the common bane
Of sects, each man his own small oracle;
Not losing innerness in external rite;
   A worship pure and plain,
Yet liberal to man’s heaven-imbreathed delight
In all that sound can hint, or beauty tell.

A golden moderation!—­which the wise
Then highest rate, when fury-factions roar,
And folly’s choicest fools the most despise:—­
—­O happy Poet! laid in peace before
Rival intolerants each ’gainst other flamed,
And flames were slaked in blood, and all the grace
Of life before that sad illiterate gloom
   Puritan, fled ashamed: 
While, as the red moon lifts her turbid face,
Titanic features on the horizon loom!

George Herbert’s brief career as a parish priest was passed at Bemerton, a pretty village near Salisbury in the vale of the Avon.  His parsonage, with its garden running down to the stream, and the little church across the road in which he lies buried, remain comparatively unchanged (March 26, 1880) since he lived and mused and wrote his Poems within these precincts.  The justly-famous Temple was published shortly after his death by his friend Nicholas Ferrar.

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Project Gutenberg
The Visions of England from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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