On February 27th the Church of England keeps the feast and celebrates the memory of George Herbert, the gentle poet priest whose book the Temple, published posthumously in 1633 by his friend Nicholas Ferrar has done so much to help and inspire Christians ever since. In an earlier blog post I gave a talk on George Herbert and the Insights of Prayer, today, on his Feast Day, I offer this sonnet, part of a sequence called ‘Clouds of Witness” in my poetry book The Singing Bowl. The sequence is a celebration of the saints, intended to complement my sequence Sounding the Seasons.
You can get this book in the UK by ordering it from your local bookshop, or via Amazon
I will also take this opportunity to announce that earlier this year I signed the contract for my next poetry book with Canterbury Press and it should be out this October. It will be called ‘After Prayer’ and it’s centrepiece will be an entirely new sequence responding to George Herbert’s seminal poem ‘Prayer’. I have taken each of the 27 images in that poem as the seed or starting point for a new poem and written a sequence of 27 sonnets. In the next few weeks I shall be posting one or two of them on this blog as ‘tasters’ of the forthcoming book. Meanwhile here is the sonnet I wrote in appreciation of Herbert himself:
As always you can hear me read the sonnet by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button.
Gentle exemplar, help us in our trials,
With all that passed between you and your Lord,
That intimate exchange of frowns and smiles
Which chronicled your love-match with the Word.
Your manuscript, entrusted to a friend,
Has been entrusted now to every soul,
We make a new beginning in your end
And find your broken heart has made us whole.
Time has transplanted you, and you take root,
Past changing in the paradise of Love,
Help me to trace your temple, tune your lute,
And listen for an echo from above,
Open the window, let me hear you sing,
And see the Word with you in everything.