Come… Give us Breath

Image from ggia.berkeley.edu

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:

by George Herbert

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a way as gives us breath;
Such a truth as ends all strife,
Such a life as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a light as shows a feast,
Such a feast as mends in length,
Such a strength as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a joy as none can move,
Such a love as none can part,
Such a heart as joys in love.


Brother Curtis Almquist writes:

“How Herbert’s life ended is not how it began. The combination of his family’s tremendous wealth and privilege, his keen mind, his excellent education, his charismatic oratorical skills, his internal drive to be fabulous, and who knows what else, had brought him to the top of the heap. By age 30, he was counsellor to two kings and a member of Parliament.

He had gained the whole world so to speak, but had not found his own soul. By his mid-30’s he realized his life was empty. Almost at the same time, he also found he had “contracted tuberculosis, which had no known cure. He knew his days were numbered, and that had a kind of rarifying effect on how he lived and what he offered of himself, while God gave him breath. His life took on two practices: as priest and as poet.”

“As a priest, where he served a tiny rural parish near Salisbury, it is as if he had been born again.  Gone was his pompous sense of privilege. He was revered by his parishioners for his humility, kindness, and tender care; for his tender ministry to the sick, and for his generous care for the poor.

As a poet, he described his writings as ‘a picture of spiritual conflicts between God and my soul before I could subject my will to Jesus, my Master; in whose service I have found perfect freedom’.”

By the end of his short life (age 39) he was a man who was literally losing his breath to tuberculosis, and so the words of this first stanza have double meaning:

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a way as gives us breath;
Such a truth as ends all strife,
Such a life as killeth death.

By Brother Curtis Almquist  found in the “Kolbe Times.”


See the effect of a George Herbert poem on the spiritual awakening of Simone Weil who also died early by tuberculosis in “Quia Amaste Me..

About R.H. (Rusty) Foerger

As I enter the third third of life, I am becoming aware of the role of elders today “to enlarge spiritual vision, being devoted to prayer, living in the face of death, as a living curriculum of the Christian life” (Dr. James M. Houston). I am a life long and life wide learner who seeks to: *decipher the enigma of our worth *rescue from the agony of prayerlessness *integrate spiritual friendship.
This entry was posted in Poems, Prayers and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Come… Give us Breath

  1. What a beautiful, poignant poem. Thank you for sharing it! How tragic that his life was so short.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.