Saturday, 5 January 2013

'My hill was further'

This season, towards Epiphany, makes me think about poems of journeying and pilgrimage, such as John Masefield's 'The Seekers', or Rupert Brooke's 'The Song of the Pilgrims'. So this is George Herbert's poem 'The Pilgrimage'.

I travell'd on, seeing the hill, where lay
My expectation.
A long it was and weary way.
The gloomy cave of Desperation
I left on th'one, and on the other side
The rock of Pride.

And so I came to Phansies medow strow'd
With many a flower:
Fair would I here have made abode,
But I was quicken'd by my houre.
So to Cares cops I came, and there got through
With much ado.

That led me to the wilde of Passion, which
Some call the wold;
A wasted place, but sometimes rich.
Here I was robb'd of all my gold,
Save one good Angell, which a friend had ti'd
Close to my side.

At length I got unto the gladsome hill,
Where lay my hope,
Where lay my heart; and climbing still,
When I had gain'd the brow and top,
A lake of brackish waters on the ground
Was all I found.

With that abash'd and struck with many a sting
Of swarming fears,
I fell, and cry'd, Alas my King;
Can both the way and end be tears?
Yet taking heart I rose, and then perceiv'd
I was deceiv'd:

My hill was further: so I flung away,
Yet heard a crie
Just as I went, None goes that way
And lives: If that be all, said I,
After so foul a journey death is fair,
And but a chair.

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