Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store
      Though foolishly he lost the same,
           Decaying more and more,
                   Till he became
                       Most poor:
                       With thee
                    O let me rise
            As larks, harmoniously,
      And sing this day thy victories
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.
 

In this stunning poem, Herbert approaches the beauty of cyclical ‘spiritual progress’ – the cycles of consolation and desolation by which the Spirit moves in us. The spacially expansive first lines recalls humanity’s original glory, which narrows in the Fall (line 2), which continues to constrict into the emotionally bound and powerless place of utter poverty and abjectness – “most poor.” And yet it is here, in death to self that mimics Christ’s crucifixion, that the presence of God comes (“With thee”). With God’s newly realized presence we rise again like birds, ascending emotionally and spiritually to praise – and yet, like Babel or Icarus or Saul or any other ascent of man, we must fall back down into our natural sinfulness. The last line, however, is perhaps Herbert’s most brilliant of the poem: the final expansiveness, the structural resting place of fullness in the poem, is the place of our fall from moments of proximity to God into further sin, powerlessness, honesty, limitation, and dependence upon God which, in time, will ultimately “further the flight in me.” Amen!