Thursday, April 11, 2013

Let us tune our instruments - George Herbert

My new-found bookish and poetic friend has just posted this on facebook, so I am sharing. It is from Isaak Walton's The Life of George Herbert. I am quite the fan of George Herbert's poetry, and this little story reminded me also of a verse of John Donne's which I shall post below:
'On another walk to Salisbury, he saw a poor man with a poorer horse, that was fallen under his load: they were both in distress, and needed present help; which Mr. Herbert perceiving, put off his canonical coat, and helped the poor man to unload, and after to load, his horse. The poor man blessed him for it, and he blessed the poor man; and was so like the Good Samaritan, that he gave him money to refresh both himself and his horse; and told him, "That if he loved himself he should be merciful to his beast." Thus he left the poor man; and at his coming to his musical friends at Salisbury, they began to wonder that Mr. George Herbert, which used to be so trim and clean, came into that company so soiled and discomposed: but he told them the occasion. And when one of the company told him, "He had disparaged himself by so dirty an employment," his answer was, "That the thought of what he had done would prove music to him at midnight; and that the omission of it would have upbraided and made discord in his conscience, whensoever he should pass by that place: for if I be bound to pray for all that be in distress, I am sure that I am bound, so far as it is in my power, to practice what I pray for. And though I do not wish for the like occasion every day, yet let me tell you, I wou1d not willingly pass one day of my life without comforting a sad soul, or shewing mercy; and I praise God for this occasion. And now let’s tune our instruments."'
Picture from here.

And here is the John Donne poetry it called to mind. This is from Hymne to GOD my GOD, in my sicknesse:

SINCE I am comming to that Holy roome,
   Where, with thy Quire of Saints for evermore,
I shall be made thy Musique; As I come
   I tune the Instrument here at the dore,
   And what I must doe then, thinke here before.

John Donne

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