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Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store, Though foolishly he lost the same, Decaying more and more, Till he became Most poore: With thee Oh let me rise As larks, harmoniously, And sing this day thy victories: Then shall the fall further the flight in me. My tender age in sorrow did beginne: And still with sicknesses and shame Thou didst so punish sinne, That I became Most thinne. With thee Let me combine And feel this day thy victorie: For, if I imp my wing on thine Affliction shall advance the flight in me.
—-George Herbert, Easter Wings from The Temple (1633)
George Herbert’s older brother was Edward Lord Herbert of Cherbury, a well-known philosopher and writer of the Elizabethan and early Stuart era probably best known to posterity as an important collector of music–the celebrated Lute Book of Lord Herbert of Cherbury. The Herbert Lute Book was recently recorded by Paul O’Dette on this Harmonia Mundi CD. Be sure to listen to the beautiful and rarely recorded Sarabande of Jacob le Polonais near the end of the recording.
Listen to Ralph Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending (1914). Vaughan Williams says he was inspired by George Meredith’s poem of the same name, but his imagery is filled with the English countryside in the early Spring, and it makes a perfect accompaniment to Herbert’s poem as well.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”