This Sunday in Mass we hear the wonderful story of the Road to Emmaus. I was reminded of the much-loved poem called ‘Love III’ by George Herbert, the great 17th century poet, born in Montgomery in Wales. Like the disciples, the poet is drawn in by love/God/Jesus until the truth is revealed through a meal. In this season we are drawn from Easter through the Ascension to Pentecost and beyond to Corpus Christi, the feast of the Eucharist. Take time with the poem – it’s 400 years old – and put yourself into it as the ‘I’ or ‘me’… If you like it, try Herbert’s ‘The Collar’.
And by the way, if you find yourself in Salisbury perhaps to visit the cathedral, I recommend a stroll across the water-meadows, painted so often by Constable, to the little village church at Bemerton, where Herbert was vicar.
Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked any thing.
A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?
Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.