Wing and a Prayer

We’re on holidays in Byron Bay! A poetical destination – quite a lot of the streets near where we are staying are named after poets. This is weird because after having worked constantly for several days on an essay the only thing I felt like reading was poetry. Poetry requires a different, less violent, mode of reading. I’ve been slowly working through an anthology edited by Harold Bloom and I’m up to a section on George Herbert. Herbert was one of the handful of genuinely great English devotional poets. This is a sonnet called ‘Prayer’ that I read on the aeroplane:

PRAYER the Church’s banquet, Angels’ age,
God’s breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heaven and earth;
Engine against the Almightie, sinners’ tower,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-day’s-world transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well dressed,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood,
The land of spices; something understood.

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