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Bliss Carman, et al., eds. The World’s Best Poetry. 1904.

VI. Human Experience

A True Lent

Robert Herrick (1591–1674)

IS this a fast,—to keep

The larder lean,

And clean

From fat of veals and sheep?

Is it to quit the dish

Of flesh, yet still

To fill

The platter high with fish?

Is it to fast an hour,

Or ragg’d to go,

Or show

A downcast look, and sour?

No! ’t is a fast to dole

Thy sheaf of wheat,

And meat,

Unto the hungry soul.

It is to fast from strife,

From old debate

And hate,—

To circumcise thy life.

To show a heart grief-rent;

To starve thy sin,

Not bin,—

And that ’s to keep thy Lent.