Content (George Herbert)

I’ve an old edition of George Herbert’s poems. It belonged to a great-aunt and she marked this poem – was it seventy or eighty years ago? So this is a mark of remembrance, as well as a poem for today….

It’s a cold and frosty morning, just one day of the old year left beyond today, when the winter has imposed its frozen quiet on the landscape, and you would wish to be at peace within as the world is without. George Herbert’s poem, Content, is one for this morning. The muttering thoughts are there, and maybe they won’t go away. For bed, read chair as we look out on a wintry land, or we may take a well-wrapped walk passing hoar-frosted hedgerows, en route to no destination. We till our own ground, follow our own path, no longer do we  ‘importune’ our friends, or ourselves.

Peace mutt’ring thoughts, and do not grudge to keep
    Within the walls of your own breast:
Who cannot on his own bed sweetly sleep,
   Can on anothers hardly rest.


Then cease discoursing soul, till thine own ground,
   Do not thy self or friends importune.
He that by seeking hath himself once found,
   Hath ever found a happie fortune.



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