Saturday, November 20, 2010

Soul's Joy

How do we know when God's sweet presence is with us? We have talked about that this week, and it was profitable for my soul. Last night before retiring I read this poem by George Herbert which meditates on that very conundrum. Herbert's artistic wit is at work here, by the way, for this poem is a parody of a secular love poem. By means of a parody, Herbert shows up the shallowness of simpering love poetry when compared to the deep and profound oceans of the soul's relationship with God. Hence, this poem is entitled "A Parody." There are no fluffy feelings here, no racing pulse, no burning in the bosom. No, this is art which helps us to understand our relationship with God rightly, truly, and faithfully. I commend it for your meditation.

Soul's joy, when thou art gone,
     And I alone,
     Which cannot be,
Because thou dost abide with me,
     And I depend on thee;

Yet when thou dost suppress
     The cheerfulness
     Of thy abode,
And in my powers not stir abroad,
     But leave me to my load:


O what a damp and shade
     Doth me invade!
     No stormy night
Can so afflict or so affright,
     As thy eclipsed light.


Ah Lord! do not withdraw,
     Lest want of awe
     Make sin appear,
And when thou dost but shine less clear,
     Say, that thou art not here.


And then what life I have,
     While Sin doth rave,
     And falsely boast,
That I may seek, but thou art lost;
     Thou and alone thou know'st.


O what a deadly cold
     Doth me enfold!
     I half believe,
That Sin says true: but while I grieve
     Thou com'st and dost relieve.

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