Easter Wings

by George Herbert

Lord, Who createdst man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
Most poore:

With Thee
O let me rise,
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day Thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did beginne;
And still with sicknesses and shame
Thou didst so punish sinne,
That I became
Most thinne.

With Thee
Let me combine,
And feel this day Thy victorie;
For, if I imp my wing on Thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.



Lord Frederick Leighton


Easter Wings


Herbert, George






Carmen figuratum (Pattern or Shape poetry)








ababa; cdcdc

Things to Discuss:

What does the title suggest is the topic of the poem? How does Herbert use the length of the lines to reflect a diminished man? How does the poem exemplify the concept of the "felix culpa?" (from Genesis the fall from Eden} What do the words "Affliction shall advance the flight in me" suggest? Does the shape of the poem relate to the shape of wings or is there another symbolism attached to them?

About the Poem:

This poem appears in several middle school literature texts however, for the older student the following points should be discussed. In line ten Herbert alludes to the paradox of the "fortunate fall" or felix culpa. Only by sinning with Eve, and being cast out of the Garden of Eden into a world of labor, pain, and death, did Adam enable the second Adam, Christ, to redeem man and show a love and forgiveness that otherwise could never have been. Also in line 19, Herbert uses the word "imp" or "graft" to suggest that if the speaker adds his feathers to God's wings, he will fly all the higher because of God's might. Falconers were known to engage in grafting wings to increase the power of flight.

Shape poetry is of interest when introducing the younger student to writing poetry. However, Herbert uses shape to enhance the story being told.

About the Poet:

If ever you find yourself in London and happen upon Westminster Abbey look for the window dedicated to George Herbert.