Gratefulnesse by George Herbert


by George Herbert (1593- 1633)

Thou that hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, a grateful heart.
See how thy beggar works on thee
By art.

He makes thy gifts occasion more,
And says, If he in this be crossed,
All thou hast given him heretofore
Is lost.

But thou didst reckon, when at first
Thy word our hearts and hands did crave,
What it would come to at the worst
To save.

Perpetual knockings at thy door,
Tears sullying thy transparent rooms,
Gift upon gift, much would have more,
And comes.

This not withstanding, thou wenst on,
And didst allow us all our noise:
Nay thou hast made a sigh and groan
Thy joys.

Not that thou hast not still above
Much better tunes, than groans can make;
But that these country-airs thy love
Did take.

Wherefore I cry, and cry again;
And in no quiet canst thou be,
Till I a thankful heart obtain
Of thee:

Not thankful, when it pleaseth me;
As if thy blessings had spare days:
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
Thy praise.


This lovely poem is one of my favorites, and I think often of the last stanza. I very much enjoy George Herbert’s way of visually and aurally emphasizing important elements in his poems.

Poetry of George HerbertIn my beautiful old volume of Herbert’s poetry (left), a gift from my oldest son, the last line of each stanza is spaced flush right, so that it is emphasized. I tried very hard to make it appear this way in this post, but it doesn’t show up in all browsers, so you may just have to imagine it. Better yet, use the poem as copywork, and write it spaced this way, and both you and your students will have an increased appreciation of its beauty. Be sure to notice Herbert’s warm, intimate tone, as of a child speaking to a father.

With this, I wish you a joyous Thanksgiving!

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about George Herbert and his poetry, be sure to check out Working it Out, a wonderful book that is both a devotional and a model for a simple, helpful way of approaching poetry in general.

Apprenticeships and Skilled Trades Offer an Alternative to College

I often talk about college or entrepreneurial options for homeschool students because that is where most of my personal interest and experience lies. However, there are many other wonderful options to consider, including skilled work in hands-on fields such as construction, plumbing, manufacturing, and so on (often referred to as the trades).

I’m reminded of these opportunities now, as my third son, a kinesthetic learner who has always wanted to work in HVAC (heating and air conditioning), has just been accepted into a three-year paid apprenticeship in his chosen field. He found the opportunity in the classified ads of our local paper, but you can search online for similar programs. The application process was similar to a job application process, as he’s going to be working full-time while taking classes, so that at the end of the program, he will be a journeyman.

Remember tech school? Most high schools used to offer shop class, woodworking, machine shop, and other training for interesting blue-collar jobs. Now, with the current emphasis on college, many students aren’t even made aware of the opportunities that are available without a four-year degree. A skilled tradesman (tradesperson? whatever!) can often earn a yearly salary and benefits comparable to that of a college graduate. Read more

‘To Autumn’ by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.