Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
The Church Porch
By George Herbert (1593–1633)
 
THOU whose sweet youth and early hopes enhance
Thy rate and price, and mark thee for a treasure,
Hearken unto a Verser, who may chance
Rhyme thee to good, and make a bait of pleasure:
    A verse may find him who a sermon flies        5
    And turn delight into a sacrifice.
 
When thou dost purpose aught (within thy power),
Be sure to doe it, though it be but small;
Constancie knits the bones, and makes us stowre,
When wanton pleasures beckon us to thrall.        10
    Who breaks his own bond, forfeiteth himself:
    What nature made a ship, he makes a shelf.
 
By all means use sometimes to be alone.
Salute thyself: see what thy soul doth wear.
Dare to look in thy chest; for ’tis thine own:        15
And tumble up and down what thou find’st there.
    Who cannot rest till he good fellows finde,
    He breaks up house, turns out of doores his minde.
 
In clothes, cheap handsomenesse doth bear the bell,
Wisdome’s a trimmer thing than shop e’er gave.        20
Say not then, this with that lace will do well;
But, this with my discretion will be brave.
    Much curiousnesse is a perpetual wooing,
    Nothing with labor, folly long a doing.
 
Entice all neatly to what they know best;        25
For so thou dost thyself and him a pleasure:
(But a proud ignorance will lose his rest,
Rather than show his cards) steal from his treasure
    What to ask further. Doubts well raised do lock
    The speaker to thee, and preserve thy stock.        30
 
When once thy foot enters the church, be bare.
God is more there than thou; for thou art there
Only by his permission. Then beware,
And make thyself all reverence and fear.
    Kneeling ne’er spoiled silk stockings; quit thy state;        35
    All equal are within the churches’ gate.
 
Resort to sermons, but to prayers most:
Praying’s the end of preaching. O be drest;
Stay not for th’ other pin: why thou hast lost
A joy for it worth worlds. Thus hell doth jest        40
    Away thy blessings, and extremely flout thee,
    Thy clothes being fast, but thy soul loose about thee.
 
Judge not the preacher; for he is thy judge:
If thou mislike him, thou conceiv’st him not.
God calleth preaching folly. Do not grudge        45
To pick out treasures from an earthen pot.
    The worst speak something good: if all want sense,
    God takes a text, and preacheth patience.
 
 
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