George Herbert (1593-1633) was an English poet born in Wales. He was strongly influenced by his mother's dear friend, John Donne, who led him not only to poetry but to the Church. While he only lived 39 years, his life as an Anglican minister at St. Andrew's Church in the village of Bemerton near Salisbury in the county of Wiltshire in southern England was a happy one. He was loved by his parishioners for his poetry, singing, and music. His one prose work was entitled The Country Parson. All of his poems were published posthumously as The Temple. His captivating poem The Pulley offers a basic truth about our relation with God.


When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by -
"Let us," said he, "pour on him all we can;
Let the world's riches, which dispersed lie,
Contract into a span."

So strength first made a way,
Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honor, pleasure
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure,
Rest in the bottom lay.

"For if I should," said he,
"Bestow this jewel also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts instead of me,
And rest in nature, not the God of nature:
So both should losers be.

"Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessness;
Let him be rich and weary, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to my breast."

George Herbert