Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
By George Herbert (1593–1633)
WHEN first Thou didst entice to Thee my heart,
    I thought the service brave;
So many joys I writ down for my part!
    Besides what I might have
Out of my stock of natural delights,        5
Augmented with Thy gracious benefits.
I lookèd on Thy furniture so fine,
    And made it fine to me.
Thy glorious household stuff did me intwine,
    And ’tice me unto Thee.        10
Such stars I counted mine: both heaven and earth
Paid me my wages in a world of mirth.
What pleasure could I want, whose King I served?
    Where joys my fellows were?
Thus argued into hopes, my thoughts reserved        15
    No place for grief or fear:
Therefore my sudden soul caught at the place,
And made her youth and fierceness seek Thy face.
At first Thou gav’st me milk and sweetnesses;
    I had my wish and way:        20
My days were strewed with flowers and happiness:
    There was no month but May:
But with my years sorrow did twist and grow,
And made a party unawares for woe.
Whereas my birth and spirit rather took        25
    The way that takes the town;
Thou didst betray me to a lingering book,
    And wrap me in a gown.
I was entangled in a world of strife,
Before I had the power to change my life.        30
Yet lest perchance I should too happy be
    In my unhappiness,
Turning my purge to food, Thou throwest me
    Into more sicknesses.
Thus does Thy power cross-bias me, not making        35
Thine own gift good, yet me from my ways taking.
Now I am here; what Thou wilt do with me,
    None of my books will show:
I read, and sigh, and wish I were a tree;
    For sure then I should grow        40
To fruit, or shade; at least some bird would trust
Her household to me, and I should be just.
Yet though Thou troublest me, I must be meek;
    In weakness must be stout.
Well, I will change the service, and go seek        45
    Some other master out.
Ah, my dear God! though I am clean forgot,
Let me not love Thee, if I love Thee not.

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