Sunday, March 07, 2010

Love Bade Me Welcome

George Herbert (1593-1633) was a younger contemporary of Shakespeare. Educated at Cambridge, he was public orator there from 1619 to 1627. Unable (or unwilling) to realize his ambition for preferment at Court, he turned to the Anglican priesthood and was Rector of Bremerton for the last three years of his life. Herbert was a metaphysical poet concerned with resolving fundamental religious conflicts between the spiritual and physical nature of Man.

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.

A guest, I answer'd, worthy to be here:
Love said, you shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful: Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marr'd them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.

You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat.
So I did sit and eat.

VIDEO: From Vaughan Williams' Five Mystical Songs, David Frieze, baritone, The First Church Choir with the volunteer Singing Society, Paul Cienniwa, conducting (Easter morning at First Church of Boston).

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