Easter Wings

Original Text: 
George Herbert, The Temple. Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations (Cambridge: by Thomas Buck and Roger Daniel, printers to the University, 1633): 34-35.
2    Though foolishly he lost the same,
3        Decaying more and more,
4            Till he became
6                With thee
7            O let me rise
8        As larks, harmoniously,
9    And sing this day thy victories:
11My tender age in sorrow did beginne
12    And still with sicknesses and shame.
13        Thou didst so punish sinne,
14            That I became
15                Most thinne.
16                With thee
17            Let me combine,
20Affliction shall advance the flight in me.


1] store: ample goods, abundance. Back to Line
5] The length of the lines decreases to reflect their content, diminished man. Back to Line
10] Herbert alludes to the paradox of the "fortunate fall" or felix culpa. Only by sinning with Eve, and being cast out of the Garden of Eden into a world of labour, pain, and death, did Adam enable the second Adam, Christ, to redeem man and show a love and forgiveness that otherwise could never have been. Back to Line
18] feel: "feel this day" in 1633. The two added words disturb the clear metrical scheme (which has six syllables in lines 3, 8, and 13) and are not found in the manuscript of the poem. Back to Line
19] imp: Herbert suggests that if he adds his feathers to God's wings, he will fly the higher because of God's might. Sometimes feathers were grafted or imped into a falcon's wing to increase the power of its flight. Note that this metaphor suggests that the wing-like stanza on one page represents Herbert's wings, and the wing-stanza on the facing page represents God's. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1999.