This poem by George Herbert (1593-1633) seemed to speak to me.
George Herbert, who had known ambition and tasted fame as Public Orator of his university (Cambridge), withdrew from a public career to find fulfillment and serenity as the rector of a small country parish. His poetry, entirely on religious themes, has a lyrical quality that reflects his pervasive sense of God’s holiness and love. Highly sensitive to the interrelationship of feeling and form in poetry, he tried to make the pattern of each poem uniquely expressive and devised a remarkable amount of stanzaic forms, even experimenting with visual effects, as in “The Altar.”
Sweet Peace, where dost thou dwell? I humbly crave,
Let me know.
I sought thee in a secret cave,
And asked if Peace were there..
A hollow wind did seem to answer, “No,
Go seek elsewhere.”
I did, and going did a rainbow note.
“Surely, I thought I,
“This is the lace of Peace’s coat;
I will search out the matter.”
But while I looked, the clouds immediately
Did break and scatter.
Then went I to a garden, and did spy
A gallant flower,
The crown imperial. “Sure”, said I,
“Peace at the root must dwell.”
But when I digged, I saw a worm devour
What showed so well.
At length I met a reverend good old man,
Whom when for Peace
I did demand, he thus began:
“There was a Prince of old
At Salem dwelt, who lived with good increase
Of flock and fold.
“He sweetly lived; yet sweetness did not save
His life from foes.
But after death out of His grave
There sprang twelve stalks of wheat;
Which many wondering at, got some of those
To plant and set.
“It prospered strangely, and did soon disperse
Through all the earth;
For they that taste it do rehearse
That virtue lies therein,
A secret virtue bringing peace and mirth
By flight of sin.
“Take this grain, which in my garden grows,
And grows for you;
Make bread of it; and that repose
And peace which everywhere
With so much earnestness you do pursue
Is only there.”