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.