Man

Original Text: 
George Herbert, The temple. Sacred poems and private ejaculations, edited by N. Ferrar (Cambridge: T. Buck and R. Daniel, 1633). STC 13183. Facs. edn. Menston: Scolar Press, 1968. PR 3507 T45 1633A. Also The Bodleian Manuscript of George Herbert's Poems: A Facsimile of Tanner 307, Introduced by Amy M. Charles and Mario A. Di Cesare. Delmar: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1984. PR 3507 T45 1984 ROBA.
2That none doth build a stately habitation
3      But he that means to dwell therein.
4      What house more stately hath there been,
5Or can be, than is man, to whose creation
6           All things are in decay?
8And more: he is a tree, yet bears more fruit;
9      A beast, yet is, or should be, more;
11Parrots may thank us if they are not mute,
13           Man is all symmetry,
14Full of proportions, one limb to another,
16      Each part may call the furthest brother,
17For head with foot hath private amity,
18           And both with moons and tides.
19           Nothing hath got so far
20But man hath caught and kept it as his prey;
21      His eyes dismount the highest star;
24           Find their acquaintance there.
25           For us the winds do blow,
26The earth doth rest, heav'n move, and fountains flow.
27      Nothing we see but means our good,
28      As our delight, or as our treasure;
29The whole is either our cupboard of food,
30           Or cabinet of pleasure.
31           The stars have us to bed;
32Night draws the curtain, which the sun withdraws;
33      Music and light attend our head;
34      All things unto our flesh are kind
35In their descent and being; to our mind
36           In their ascent and cause.
37           Each thing is full of duty;
38Waters united are our navigation;
39      Distinguished, our habitation;
40      Below, our drink; above, our meat;
42           Then how are all things neat!
43           More servants wait on man
45      He treads down that which doth befriend him,
46      When sickness makes him pale and wan.
47Oh mighty love! Man is one world, and hath
48           Another to attend him.
49           Since then, my God, thou hast
50So brave a palace built, O dwell in it,
51      That it may dwell with thee at last!
52      Till then, afford us so much wit,
53That, as the world serves us, we may serve thee,
54           And both thy servants be.

Notes

1] this day: perhaps in the Church lesson for the day. Back to Line
7] an elaboration of the idea of man as a microcosm, or little world, compared to the great world of the universe. Back to Line
10] we only: only we. Back to Line
12] go upon the score: are in debt. Back to Line
15] See note on Vaughan's "The Star," line 5. Back to Line
22] the sphere: the universe. Back to Line
23] a reference to the doctrine of "correspondences"as applied in medicine. Back to Line
41] Hath one: i.e., why not other elements also. Back to Line
44] neat: ingenious, exquisite. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1633
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.213-14.
Rhyme: