Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader



Happy New Year, friends! Here’s a poem/prayer by George Herbert to start the year, either reverent or irreverent – you decide –


Ah my dear angry Lord
Since those dost love, yet strike;
Cast down, yet help afford;
Sure I will do the like.

I will complain, yet praise;
I will bewail, approve:
And all my sour-sweet days
I will lament, and love.


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On George Herbert (1593-1633), from

“What of his poetry?

Thankfully for posterity, Ferrar chose to publish them and they appeared, as The Temple, in 1633, shortly after Herbert’s death. The volume contains the now rather unfortunate subtitle Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations, but it’s a succinct description of Herbert’s curious mixture – like the poetry of his contemporary, John Donne – of complex metaphors combined with plain-speaking. We feel, when reading a George Herbert poem, as though we are being personally addressed – even though, in many of his greatest poems, Herbert addresses himself not to us, but to God….

Herbert’s The Temple was the book that King Charles I read in his final hours, for consolation. Indeed, despite his short life and relatively small body of work, George Herbert remains a major poet of his own or any era in English literature.


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Photo by Jack Barnwell at Lake Tillery

(All other photos by JHP)


  1. Loved the poem, Jenifer. If it was good enough for Charles I, It’s good enough for me.

  2. Charles I was not a very good king and certainly not a wise one but at least he appreciated good poetry.

  3. Jennifer-
    What a beautiful post-both poem and photographs-And interesting literature is such a wonderful site-
    Thank you for starting the year with such lovely gifts-And a Happy and Healthy 2021 to you,Gus and the girls-
    Love and hugs-

    • Hi Barbara! I’m so delighted to hear from you! I have just discovered the interesting literature site… it does look great! I hope and trust the new year will bring us all comfort and cheer… especially sending love and hugs to you and Eric… xoxo

  4. Sorry to admit that until reading your post today I hadn’t heard of George Herbert, the poet. Read the poem and thought he was 19th c. writer and had done a lovely job capturing in only a few lines the challenge of loving God who can deliver crap with the sublime. Was shocked to see he lived early 17th c. and expressed these thoughts.
    With only the one poem by him, I admire him. His simpler language and structure, his more personalized God and his acceptance of his love for God from whom comes both good and bad strike me as far outside the 17th c. church. I’m not surprised Charles the First read this in his final hours. I find it comforting, too.
    Thank you so much for sharing what you find meaningful.

  5. Happy New Year Jennifer! What lovely flowers and words to start 2021~ Perhaps the bitterness is behind us and we have now sweetness to look forward to~

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