Sunday Morning Poem: “The Agonie,” by George Herbert

This series could not continue long without featuring George Herbert…

                                The Agonie

     Philosophers have measur’d mountains,
Fathom’d the depths of seas, of states, and kings,
Walk’d with a staffe to heav’n, and traced fountains:
     But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove:
Yet few there are that sound them; Sinne and Love.

     Who would know Sinne, let him repair
Unto mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
     His skinne, his garments bloudie be.
Sinne is that presse and vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruell food through ev’ry vein.

     Who knows not Love, let him assay
And taste that juice, which on the crosse a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
     If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquour sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as bloud; but I, as wine.


  1. Jason K. says:

    When I discovered George Herbert for myself ten years ago, this is one of the first poems that really struck me. Still, because LDS don’t usually focus so much on the physical symbolism of Jesus’ sufferings, I’m curious to know your reactions to the baroque imagery here (especially since this series will eventually feature poetry by Richard Crashaw).

  2. Thanks, Jason. I spent most of Sacrament meeting chasing an (adorable) little boy around the building, so it was nice getting a poem-sized sermon to supplement the sacrament today.

  3. Thanks, Jason. Beautiful.

  4. I am undone. Wow. I’ve never seen this poem. Thank you. Also, if this poem is any measure, baroque is good.

  5. Jason K. says:

    Melody: That was my experience, too, and thus poem is early in the collection, so it kept me reading, which led to many more such experiences.

    Sam: I’ve been there, too. Glad the poem helped!

  6. So exquisitely bittersweet. Thanks for this (and the series; wonderful way to end a Sunday).

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