Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sweet rose, whose hue angry and brave

Today I post George Herbert's poem, "Virtue." The poem was written in 1633. I'm posting it in the original English, but if that bothers you, Google another version. What strikes me the most is how, centuries after it is written, I can find so much to relate to it. My favorite stanza is the second, which, pulled aside from the rest of the poem, has had various meanings for me throughout the year. The "sweet rose" has to me been dream colleges I know I'll never be able to attend, flings doomed from the get go, and ambitions too lofty to ever accomplish. I think that is part of what makes poetry, poetry. No matter how specific or personal the topic, others can relate to it on a hundred different levels. Each stanza in turn has come to fit into wherever in my life I may be. "Sweet spring" is to me those perfect days when all is right with the world, the first stages of love, and beauty at it's finest. All things must come to an end, yet above it rises human virtue. Beautiful!

¶ Vertue.

George Herbert

Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridall of the earth and skie:
The dew shall weep thy fall to night;
For thou must die.
Sweet rose, whose hue angrie and brave
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye:
Thy root is ever in its grave
And thou must die.
Sweet spring, full of sweet dayes and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie;
My musick shows ye have your closes,1
And all must die.
Onely a sweet and vertuous soul,
Like season’d timber, never gives;
But though the whole world turn to coal,
Then chiefly lives.