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
He makes thy gifts occasion more,
And says, If he in this be crossed,
All thou hast given him heretofore
But thou didst reckon, when at first
Thy word our hearts and hands did crave,
What it would come to at the worst
Perpetual knockings at thy door,
Tears sullying thy transparent rooms,
Gift upon gift, much would have more,
This not withstanding, thou wenst on,
And didst allow us all our noise:
Nay thou hast made a sigh and groan
Not that thou hast not still above
Much better tunes, than groans can make;
But that these country-airs thy love
Wherefore I cry, and cry again;
And in no quiet canst thou be,
Till I a thankful heart obtain
Not thankful, when it pleaseth me;
As if thy blessings had spare days:
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
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.
In 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.