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Rise heart ; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise :
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more just.
Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.
Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long :
Or since all music is but three parts vied,
And multiplied ;
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.
I got me flowers to straw thy way ;
I got me boughs off many a tree :
But thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.
The Sunne arising in the East,
Though he give light, and th’ East perfume ;
If they should offer to contest
With thy arising, they presume.
Can there be any day but this,
Though many sunnes to shine endeavour ?
We count three hundred, but we misse :
There is but one, and that one ever.
–George Herbert, Easter first published in The Temple (1633) from The Poetical Works of George Herbert pp. 236-38 (1857).
This is a complex poem, in two parts, and there is good reason to believe that the second, less formal part is actually intended to be sung to the accompaniment of a lute. George Herbert, in any event, was an accomplished lutenist and a great fan of the works of John Dowland. If that is so, then Dowland’s The Most Sacred Queen Elizabeth, Her Galliard (from Varietie of Lute Lessons (1610) prepared by his son Robert Dowland) perfectly matches the meter and rhyme scheme of this poem and may well have been intended as the music to which it was to have been sung.
The first part of the poem is, however, more dramatic and triumphant. Herbert invokes his lute, but the words call for more of an orchestral setting. Listen to a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantata “Der Himmel lacht!, die Erde jubilieret” composed for Easter Sunday, BWV 31 (ca. 1715), in a performance by The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir, Ton Koopman, conductor:
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.”