The Altar

George Herbert

Edited by Jack Lynch

Shape poems like this are almost impossible to format in web pages. What works on one screen often doesn’t work on others, so you’ll have to live with this rough approximation.

The copy-text is The Temple: Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations (London, 1633).

A  broken  AltarLord,  thy  servant  rears,
Made  of  a  heart  and  cemented  with  tears;
Whose  parts  are  as  thy  hand  did  frame;
No workman’s tool hath touch’d the same.
Heart  alone
Is  such  a  stone,
As  nothing  but
Thy pow’r doth cut.
Wherefore each part
Of  my  hard  heart
Meets in this frame
To praise thy name.
That  if  I  chance  to  hold  my  peace,
These stones to praise thee may not cease.
Oh,  let  thy  blessed  Sacrifice  be  mine,
And  sanctify  this  Altar  to  be  thine.


Builds up, constructs.