Poem: “The Elixir”

The Elixir

Teach me, my God and King,
In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in anything
To do it as for Thee.

Not rudely, as a beast,
To run into an action;
But still to make Thee prepossest,
And give it his perfection.

A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye;
Or it he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heav’n espy.

All may of Thee partake:
Nothing can be so mean,
Which with his tincture—”for Thy sake”—
Will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine:
Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,
Makes that and th’ action fine.

This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold;
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for less be told.

George Herbert

George Herbert was born in Mongomery, Wales to a noble family in 1593. He was a poet, an orator, and an Anglican priest. As rector in Bemerton near Salisbury, he was known for the care he gave his parishioners, bringing the sacraments to them when they were ill, and providing food and clothing for those in need.  Near death, he asked a close friend to publish his poems if he thought they might be helpful to "any dejected poor soul." He died in 1633 at the age of 40. Herbert's poems are known for their deep religious devotion and metrical liveliness. He is considered one of the great Metaphysical poets.