The Pearl

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.
3What reason hath from nature borrowed,
4Or of itself, like a good huswife, spun
7Both th'old discoveries and the new-found seas,
9All these stand open, or I have the keys:
10      Yet I love thee.
11I know the ways of honour; what maintains
14When glory swells the heart and moldeth it
15To all expressions both of hand and eye,
17And bear the bundle wheresoe'er it goes;
18How many drams of spirit there must be
19To sell my life unto my friends or foes:
20      Yet I love thee.
21I know the ways of pleasure; the sweet strains
22The lullings and the relishes of it;
23The propositions of hot blood and brains;
24What mirth and music mean; what love and wit
25Have done these twenty hundred years and more;
26I know the projects of unbridled store;
27My stuff is flesh, not brass; my senses live,
28And grumble oft that they have more in me
29Than he that curbs them, being but one to five:
30      Yet I love thee.
31I know all these and have them in my hand;
33I fly to thee, and fully understand
35And at what rate and price I have thy love,
36With all the circumstances that may move.
37Yet through the labyrinths, not my grovelling wit,
38But thy silk twist let down from heav'n to me
39Did both conduct and teach me how by it
40      To climb to thee.


1] The title is from Matthew 13:45 (the one pearl of great price).
head: source. Back to Line
2] press: printing press and/or wine press. Back to Line
5] policy: statecraft.
stars conspire: i.e., astrological knowledge. Back to Line
6] forc'd by fire: i.e., through alchemy. Back to Line
8] stock and surplus: "the learning which we inherit, and that which we add to it" (Beeching). Back to Line
12] returns: replies, retorts. Back to Line
13] vies: rivalries.
whether: which. Back to Line
16] unbridled store: abundance. Back to Line
32] seeled: closed; the eyes of young hawks were sewn up during part of their training. Back to Line
34] full terms of the sale, including the advantages. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.212-13.