This past weekend, my message at Eastbrook Church was entitled “The Hunger for Peace.” It was the latest installment of our “Hungry for God” series during Lent. As with many sermons, there are aspects of study and illustrations that never make it into the actual delivered message. As a lover of poetry, I couldn’t help but want to share these two poems on peace, one by 17th century poet and priest, George Herbert, and another by 19th century poet and priest, Gerard Manley Hopkins.
“Peace” by George Herbert
Sweet Peace, where dost thou dwell ? I humbly crave,
Let me once know.
I sought thee in a secret cave,
And ask’d, if Peace were there.
A hollow winde did seem to answer, No :
Go seek elsewhere.
I did ; and going did a rainbow note :
Surely, thought I,
This is the lace of Peaces coat :
I will search out the matter.
But while I lookt, the clouds immediately
Did break and scatter.
Then went I to a garden, and did spy
A gallant flower,
The crown Imperiall : Sure, said I,
Peace at the root must dwell.
But when I digg’d, I saw a worm devoure
What show’d so well.
At length I met a rev’rend good old man :
Whom when of Peace
I did demand, he thus began ;
There was a Prince of old
At Salem dwelt, who liv’d with good increase
Of flock and fold.
He sweetly liv’d ; yet sweetnesse did not save
His life from foes.
But after death out of his grave
There sprang twelve stalks of wheat :
Which many wondring at, got some of those
To plant and set.
It prosper’d strangely, and did soon disperse
Through all the earth :
For they that taste it do rehearse,
That vertue lies therein ;
A secret vertue bringing peace and mirth
By flight of sinne.
Take of this grain, which in my garden grows,
And grows for you ;
Make bread of it : and that repose
And peace, which ev’ry where
With so much earnestnesse you do pursue
Is onely there.
* * *
“Peace” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
When will you ever, Peace, wild wooddove, shy wings shut,
Your round me roaming end, and under be my boughs?
When, when, Peace, will you, Peace? I’ll not play hypocrite
To own my heart: I yield you do come sometimes; but
That piecemeal peace is poor peace. What pure peace allows
Alarms of wars, the daunting wars, the death of it?
O surely, reaving Peace, my Lord should leave in lieu
Some good! And so he does leave Patience exquisite,
That plumes to Peace thereafter. And when Peace here does house
He comes with work to do, he does not come to coo,
He comes to brood and sit.