George Herbert – 2

(George Herbert’s) “Prayer” – Well, there’s only just one great line in that, but we’ll read the whole thing anyway. Anybody want to try and read Herbert? – [to Student] -Scott? (sic)

Student: (Scott) (I don’t have the poem in the book)

AG: Oh you don’t have the book. Anybody enjoy reading aloud? –  [to Student] – Have you done it before?

Student: Yes

AG: Who hasn’t? Who hasn’t read aloud here? Who hasn’t exercised their vocal chords? –  [to Student] – You haven’t have you? – Just… Yeah Okay, why don’t you try reading it “ – Who’s religious? ..Who’s religious? Who believes in God? Somebody that… This is a prayer, lets get someone who can really get with it – Come on, Mike (sic), get with it. Come on! You know, not religious but it’s got you God, or something….

Student (Mike) reads George Herbert’s poem,  “Prayer”:

“Prayer the church’s banquet, angel’s age,/God’s breath in man returning to his birth,/The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,/The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth/Engine against th’ Almighty, sinner’s tow’r,/Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,/The sixty day world…”

AG: The six days..

Student (Mike): Oh…[continues] – “The six-days world transposing in an hour,/A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;/Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,/ Exalted manna, gladness of the best,/Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,/The milky way, the bird of Paradise,/  Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood,/The land of spices; something understood.”

AG: That’s really nice. Staccato. A lot of it seems like Emily Dickinson almost, particularly the end – “The land of spices; something understood “– Great! – Infra-sound, beyond hearing. The line I like though – there’s one great line here that’s sort of Miltonic – “Engine against th’ Almighty” – prayer as an “Engine against th’ Almighty”  (“Engine” meaning, I guess, a weapon. or engine, to reach the Almighty, an engine to bend the Almighty to our own heart) – “Engine against th’ Almighty”,

There’s a couple of nice things in it, though –  the “God’s breath in man” “Reversed thunder” – “A kind of tune” is nice – (prayer is “A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear”) – “Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,” – (prayer is man well drest,”) – “The milky way, the bird of Paradise,” – “Church-bells beyond the stars heard”, “the soul’s blood”, “The land of spices”, and then, “something understood” – That’s kind of neat, it’s a neat sonnet.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately four-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately seven-and-a-quarter minutes in]

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