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Monday, April 24, 2017


Short and  Sweet

I made a posy, while the day ran by: 
“Here will I smell my remnant out, and tie 
                           My life within this band.” 
But Time did beckon to the flowers, and they 
By noon most cunningly did steal away, 
                           And withered in my hand. 

My hand was next to them, and then my heart; 
I took, without more thinking, in good part 
                           Time’s gentle admonition; 
Who did so sweetly death’s sad taste convey, 
Making my mind to smell my fatal day, 
                           Yet, sug’ring the suspicion. 

Farewell dear flowers, sweetly your time ye spent, 
Fit, while ye lived, for smell or ornament, 
                           And after death for cures. 
I follow straight without complaints or grief, 
Since, if my scent be good, I care not if 
                           It be as short as you. —George Herbert
   
Carolyn “made a posy” the other day—a spray of flowers that she placed on an antique carpenter’s bench that stands in front of our window on the world. It lasted a day or two and then was spent: the leaves wilted and the blossoms withered away.

Herbert’s poem, “Life,” came to mind. In it he mentions a posey he gathered and placed where he could catch its fragrance throughout the day. But “time did beckon to the flowers” and they withered away. 

The death of his flowers caused Herbert to think of his fatal day, but their lingering fragrance—an aroma that lasted long after their dying— “sug’red” (sweetened) that thought. He concludes: 

I follow straight (to my fatal day) without complaints or grief, 
Since if my scent be good, I care not, if
It (his life span) be as short as you (the flowers).

May we take "time's gentle admonition:" May our days, however short, be spent “sweetly”—a fragrance of Christ to God and to others (2 Corinthians 2:14). And may His fragrance linger long after our fatal day.

David Roper
4.24.17

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