Easter Wings—George Herbert

Painting by Patrick Murphy

George Herbert (1593 – 1633) was a Welsh poet and Anglican priest. He is one of the “metaphysical poets,” whose ranks include John Donne. The metaphysical poets are so named because their poems often took up spiritual themes and meditations.

Several of Herberts poems are favorites of mine. Below is his poem, “Easter Wings.” The structure is, clearly, unique. Without talking it to death, I’ll just point out something I noticed for the first time during my last reading. Where the lines grow shorter in the first section, Herbert talks about man’s fall. Where the lines grow longer again, he prays to experience Christ’s resurrection. He compares this to a lark that rises into the sky, singing. Here, the miseries of the fall only make new life more glorious.

In the second section, he talks about his personal experience with sin as the lines narrow. As the lines broaden again, he prays to experience Christ’s victory by joining his wing to Christ’s; this dependence allows him to soar where he is unable.

A joyous Easter to everyone! I pray we will all know Christ’s life within more clearly—and soar!

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