Edward Herbert (1583-1648)

The Thought

If you do love as well as I,
Then every minute from your heart
       A thought doth part:
And wingèd with desire doth fly
Till it hath met, in a straight line,
       A thought of mine
So like to yours, we cannot know
Whether of both doth come, or go,
       Till we define
Which of us two that thought doth owe.

  I say then that your thoughts which pass,
Are not so much the thoughts you meant
       As those I sent:
For as my image in a glass
Belongs not to the glass you see
       But unto me,
So when your fancy is so clear
That you would think you saw me there,
       It needs must be
That it was I did first appear.

  Likewise, when I send forth a thought,
My reason tells me, ’tis the same
       Which from you came,
And which your beauteous image wrought.
Thus while our thoughts by turns do lead,
       None can precede ;
And thus, while in each other’s mind
Such interchangèd forms we find,
       Our loves may plead
To be of more than vulgar kind.

  May you then often think on me,
And by that thinking know ’tis true
       I thought on you ;
I in the same belief will be:
While, by this mutual address,
       We will possess
A love must live, when we do die,
Which rare and secret property
       You will confess,
If you do love as well as I.


Must I then see, alas, eternal night
Sitting upon those fairest eyes,
And closing all those beams, which once did rise
So radiant and bright
That light and heat in them to us did prove
Knowledge and love?

Oh, if you did delight no more to stay
Upon this low and earthly stage,
But rather chose an endless heritage,
Tell us at least, we pray,
Where all the beauties that those ashes ow’d
Are now bestow’d.

Doth the sun now his light with yours renew?
Have waves the curling of your hair?
Did you restore unto the sky and air
The red, and white, and blue?
Have you vouchsaf’d to flowers since your death
That sweetest breath?

Had not heav’n’s lights else in their houses slept,
Or to some private life retir’d?
Must not the sky and air have else conspir’d,
And in their regions wept?
Must not each flower else the earth could breed,
Have been a weed?

But thus enrich’d may we not yield some cause
Why they themselves lament no more?
That must have chang’d the course they held before,
And broke their proper laws,
Had not your beauties giv’n this second birth
To heaven and earth.

Tell us (for oracles must still ascend
For those that crave them at your tom ,
Tell us where are those beauties now become,
And what they now intend;
Tell us, alas, that cannot tell our grief,
Or hope relief.

A Meditation upon His Wax Candle Burning Out

While thy ambitious flame doth strive for height,
Yet burneth down, as clogged with the weight
Of earthly parts to which thou art combin’d,
Thou still dost grow more short of thy desire,
And dost in vain unto that place aspire
To which thy native powers seem inclin’d.

Yet when at last thou com’st to be dissolv’d,
And to thy proper principles resolv’d,
And all that made thee now is discompos’d,
Though thy terrestrial part in ashes lies,
Thy more sublime to higher regions flies,
The rest b’ing to the middle ways expos’d.

And while thou doest thyself each-where disperse,
Some parts of thee make up this universe,
Others a kind of dignity obtain,
Since thy pure wax, in its own flame consum’d,
Volumes of incense sends, in which perfum’d
Thy smoke mounts where thy fire could not attain.

Much more our souls then, when they go from hence,
And back unto the elements dispense
All that built up our frail and earthly frame,
Shall through each pore and passage make their breach,
Till they with all their faculties do reach
Unto that place from whence at first they came.

Nor need they fear thus to be thought unkind
To those poor carcases they leave behind,
Since, being in unequal parts commix’d,
Each in his element their place will get;
And who thought elements unhappy yet,
As long as they were in their stations fix’d?

Or if they salli’d forth, is there not light
And heat in some, and spirit prone to fight?
Keep they not, in the earth and air, the field?
Besides, have they not pow’r to generate,
When, more than meteors, they stars create,
Which while they last scarce to the brightest yield?

That so in them we more than once may live,
While these materials which here did give
Our bodies essence, and are most of use,
Quick’ned again by the world’s common soul,
Which in itself and in each part is whole,
Can various forms in divers kinds produce.

If then, at worst, this our condition be,
When to themselves our elements are free,
And each doth to its proper place revert,
What may we not hope from our part divine,
Which can this dross of elements refine,
And them unto a better state assert?

Or if as cloy’d upon this earthly stage,
Which represents nothing but change or age,
Our souls would all their burdens here divest,
They singly may that glorious state acquire,
Which fills alone their infinite desire
To be of perfect happiness possess’d.

And therefore I, who do not live and move
By outward sense so much as faith and love,
Which is not in inferior creatures found,
May unto some immortal state pretend,
Since by these wings I thither may ascend,
Where faithful loving souls with joys are crown’d.

Tears, Flow No More

Tears, flow no more, or if you needs must flow,
            Fall yet more slow,
        Do not the world invade,
From smaller springs than yours rivers have grown,
        And they again a Sea have made,
Brackish like you, and which like you hath flown.

Ebb to my heart, and on the burning fires
            Of my desires,
        O let your torrents fall,
From smaller heate than theirs such sparks arise
        As into flame converting all,
This world might be but my love’s sacrifice.

Yet if the tempests of my sighs so blow
            You both must flow,
        And my desires still burn,
Since that in vain all help my love requires,
    Why may not yet their rages turn
To dry those tears, and to blow out those fires ?