Friday, November 26, 2010

A Thanksgiving to God, For His House

Our "cell/wherin to dwell," after the Blizzard of '08

by Robert Herrick

Lord, Thou hast given me a cell
Wherein to dwell,
A little house, whose humble roof
Is weather-proof:
Under the spars of which I lie
Both soft, and dry;
Where Thou my chamber for to ward
Hast set a guard
Of harmless thoughts, to watch and keep
Me, while I sleep.
Low is my porch, as is my fate,
Both void of state;
And yet the threshold of my door
Is worn by th' poor,
Who thither come and freely get
Good words, or meat.
Like as my parlour, so my hall
And kitchen's small;
A little buttery, and therein
A little bin,
Which keeps my little loaf of bread
Unchipp'd, unflead;
Some brittle sticks of thorn or briar
Make me a fire,
Close by whose living coal I sit,
And glow like it.
Lord, I confess too, when I dine,
The pulse is Thine,
And all those other bits, that be
There plac'd by Thee;
The worts, the purslain, and the mess
Of water-cress,
Which of Thy kindness Thou hast sent;
And my content
Makes those, and my beloved beet,
To be more sweet.
'Tis Thou that crown'st my glittering hearth
With guiltless mirth;
And giv'st me wassail-bowls to drink,
Spic'd to the brink.
Lord, 'tis Thy plenty-dropping hand
That soils my land;
And giv'st me, for my bushel sown,
Twice ten for one;
Thou mak'st my teeming hen to lay
Her egg each day;
Besides my healthful ewes to bear
Me twins each year;
The while the conduits of my kine
Run cream, for wine.
All these, and better, Thou dost send
Me, to this end,
That I should render, for my part,
A thankful heart,
Which, fir'd with incense, I resign,
As wholly Thine;
But the acceptance, that must be,
My Christ, by Thee.

I'm reading and listening to ALCHEMY AND MEGGY SWANN by Karen Cushman. (If you follow the link and listen to the sample, you'll hear a description of the house in London where Meggy Swann finds herself delivered, but, unfortunately, you won't get to hear her say,"Ye toads and vipers!") Cushman's newest book is set in London in 1573 "Under the accession of Elizabeth I to the throne of England but afore London's first theater and Shakespeare." All of this is to tell you why, when I began my search for today's poem -- after realizing with a gasp that it is FRIDAY (an aside here about how mixed up I am about what day it is: I keep calling the third day of NCTE Wednesday, even though it was Sunday, just because Monday means "the start of it all" and therefore two days after the start must be Wednesday) ... where was I? Oh. Looking for a poem. So my search turned up the poem by  Robert Herrick and it felt like it had been GIVEN to me to share. Maybe even given to me by Meggy Swann herself.

Happy Thanksgiving, from my house to yours, and Happy Poetry Friday! Let's meet at Jone's "house" -- Check It Out -- for a feast of poetry!


  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, everyone!

    Beautiful poem. I am like that with days, too. Today feels like Saturday to me ; )

    Thankful for your wonderful blog!

  2. Happy Thanksgiving! Lovely poem.

  3. I love Herrick. He gave me one of my most favorite words: liquefaction.

    "Whenas in silks
    my Julia goes
    Then, then, methinks
    how sweetly flows
    That liquefaction of her clothes"

    (that's from memory, so the line breaks are probably wonky and I might have fluffed some of the words, too."

    Liquifaction, methinks it is a wonderful word.

    Meggy Swann is in my December to read pile. I'm even more excited about it now.

  4. What a lovely Thanksgiving poem, thank you!

    Mixed up about days...I am sure I take the prize on that one. I am glad to know someone else always feels it is Monday if it is the start of a new "event" ...oh, me.

  5. Oh, goodness--what a list of things to be thankful for, just named with humility and real gratitude: "a little buttery" "a little bin" "a little loaf of bread."

    I wanted much more of NCTE and hanging out with you (so appreciated, once I figured it out, that I could spot you by searching for purple), but I'm thankful for "a little."

    If you're enjoying Meggy and alchemy, read "Ghostwalk"--completely fascinating.

  6. Mary Lee,

    It was so great to finally meet you at NCTE this year. (Sorry we didn't connect in Phildelphia.) I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  7. I'm late in reading Friday's posts, but thank you for Herrick's poem. It sums up just what I've been feeling lately. The details are marvelous and encourage me to be intentional about why I do feel blessed.


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