Harke, despair away

Nativity, Marc Chagall, 1950. Galerie Art Chrudim.

Away despair! my gracious Lord doth heare. Though windes and waves assault my keel, He doth preserve it: he doth steer, Ev’n when the boat seems most to reel. Storms are the triumph of his art: Well may he close his eyes, but not his heart. Hast thou not heard, that my Lord Jesus di’d? Then let me tell thee a strange storie. The God of power, as he did ride In his majestic robes of glorie, Reserv’d to light; and so one day He did descend, undressing all the way. The starres his tire of light and rings obtain’d, The cloud his bow, the fire his spear, The sky his azure mantle gain’d. And when they ask’d, what he would wear; He smil’d and said as he did go,He had new clothes a making here below. When he was come, as travellers are wont, He did repair unto an inne. Both then, and after, many a brunt He did endure to cancell sinne: And having giv’n the rest before,Here he gave up his life to pay our score. But as he was returning, there came one That ran upon him with a spear. He, who came hither all alone, Bringing nor man, nor arms, nor fear, Receiv’d the blow upon his side,And straight he turn’d, and to his brethren cry’d, If ye have any thing to send or write, I have no bag, but here is room: Unto my Fathers hands and sight, Beleeve me, it shall safely come. That I shall minde, what you impart;Look, you may put it very neare my heart. Or if hereafter any of my friends Will use me in this kinde, the doore Shall still be open; what he sends I will present, and somewhat more, Not to his hurt.  Sighs will conveyAny thing to me.  Harke, Despair away.

– “The Bag” from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert

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