8 Feb 2024 | Grace of God | 0 comments

Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,

Guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack

From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,

     If I lacked anything.


‘A guest’, I answered, ‘worthy to be here.’

Love said, ‘You shall be he.’

‘I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,

I cannot look on thee.’

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,

     ‘Who made the eyes but I?’


‘Truth, Lord, but I have marred them; let my shame

Go where it doth deserve.’

‘And know you not’, says Love, ‘who bore the blame?’

‘My dear then I will serve.’

‘You must sit down’, says Love, ‘and taste my meat.’

     So I did sit and eat.


George Herbert (1593-1633), Love (III).

Notes from the Compiler

Simone Weil (1909-43), the philosopher and mystic, described this poem as 'the most beautiful poem in the world', when she came across it at a time when she was tormented by migraines and the gathering storm of war in Europe in 1938. In Herbert's recent biography (2013 p. 348), John Drury fastens on the climax, 'In the last verse this inherent dialogue between poet and Jesus melts into identity as the happiest feelings of the human heart are also the qualities of its indwelling divinity, Jesus. The reader has reached the heart of things - of everything - for Herbert, and the progression of the poem is revealed as a homecoming.' Tradition has it that there were two Valentines martyred in Rome in the third century. Neither of them seem to have had any connection with lovers or courting couples. However, the date of the practice of calling someone a 'Valentine' may go back to the time of Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400), when birds were believed to pair up on 14th February each year.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *