Herbert Festivall Poetry — Love (III)

Love (III)

LOve bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guiltie of dust and sinne.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lack’d any thing.

A guest, I answer’d, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkinde, ungratefull? Ah my deare,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, sayes Love, who bore the blame?
My deare, then I will serve.
You must sit down, sayes Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.

Again and again, I have spoken with people who don’t understand why God should love them. “I have done terrible things!” they exclaim. Or “I didn’t pay enough attention to God.” But, of course, God is relentless in reaching out to us.

Herbert here captures beautifully the human quest for God and even more beautifully God’s quest for humanity. Our very desire to be loved by God is itself a gift from God. What is our proper response to our very desire to be loved by God? Why, to feast on God’s presence — on Christ in the sacraments of the church — and to delight in God’s presence in the people of God.

This poem is from The Temple (1633) and you can find it online here. The photo is by flickr user freephotouk.

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