Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Poem for Tuesday in Holy Week

I'm posting a poem and a picture for each day of Holy Week this year. Today's poem is very long, so I'm posting only a selection of the stanzas. You can read the whole thing here.

from The Sacrifice
by George Herbert

Oh all ye, who pass by, whose eyes and mind
To worldly things are sharp, but to me blind;
To me, who took eyes that I might you find:
                                             Was ever grief like mine?

...Arise, arise, they come. Look how they run.
Alas! what haste they make to be undone!
How with their lanterns do they seek the sun!
                                             Was ever grief like mine?
With clubs and staves they seek me, as a thief,
Who am the way of truth, the true relief;
Most true to those, who are my greatest grief:
                                            Was ever grief like mine?
Judas, dost thou betray me with a kiss?
Canst thou find hell about my lips? and miss
Of life, just at the gates of life and bliss?
                                          Was ever grief like mine?

...Then they accuse me of great blasphemy,
That I did thrust into the Deity,
Who never thought that any robbery:
                                          Was ever grief like mine?
Some said, that I the Temple to the floor
In three days raz’d, and raised as before.
Why, he that built the world can do much more:
                                         Was ever grief like mine?
Then they condemn me all with that same breath,
Which I do give them daily, unto death.
Thus Adam my first breathing rendereth:
                                        Was ever grief like mine?

....They buffet me, and box me as they list,
Who grasp the earth and heaven with my fist,
And never yet, whom I would punish, miss’d:
                                       Was ever grief like mine?
Behold, they spit on me in scornful wise,
Who by my spittle gave the blind man eyes,
Leaving his blindness to mine enemies:
                                        Was ever grief like mine?
My face they cover, though it be divine.
As Moses’ face was veiled, so is mine,
Lest on their double-dark souls either shine:
                                       Was ever grief like mine?

....O all ye who pass by, behold and see;
Man stole the fruit, but I must climb the tree;
The tree of life to all, but only me:
                                      Was ever grief like mine?
Lo, here I hang, charg’d with a world of sin,
The greater world o’ th’ two; for that came in
By words, but this by sorrow I must win:
                                    Was ever grief like mine?
Such sorrow, as if sinful man could feel,
Or feel his part, he would not cease to kneel,
Till all were melted, though he were all steel:
                                     Was ever grief like mine?
But, O my God, my God! why leav’st thou me,
The son, in whom thou dost delight to be?
My God, my God –---
                                       Never was grief like mine.


Anonymous said...

Jessica, your series this Holy Week has been lovely. Great idea. I especially love the stanza about the veils- Moses' and Jesus'- so powerful. Blessings on you this Triduum! Annie

Jessica Snell said...

Annie, thank you so much! I can't tell you how much fun it's been to pull out my poetry books and leaf through them, looking for just the right poem each day. (Well, maybe "fun" is the wrong word when it comes to this *particular* poem, but you see what I mean.) I'm grateful to hear it's been a blessing to you.