Sweet Peace, where dost thou dwell? I humbly crave,
               Let me once know.
          I sought thee in a secret cave,
          And ask’d, if Peace were there.
A hollow wind did seem to answer, No:
               Go seek elsewhere.

I did; and going did a rainbow note:
               Surely, thought I,
          This is the lace of Peace’s coat:
          I will search out the matter.
But while I look’t, the clouds immediately
               Did break and scatter.

Then went I to a garden, and did spy
               A gallant flower,
          The crown Imperial: Sure, said I,
          Peace at the root must dwell.
But when I digg’d, I saw a worm devour
               What show’d so well.

At length I met a rev’rend good old man,
               Whom when for Peace
          I did demand; he thus began:
          There was a Prince of old
At Salem dwelt, who liv’d with good increase
               Of flock and fold.

He sweetly liv’d; yet sweetness did not save
               His life from foes.
     But after death out of his grave
          There sprang twelve stalks of wheat:
Which many wondring at, got some of those
               To plant and set.

It prosper’d strangely, and did soon disperse
               Through all the earth:
     For they that taste it do rehearse
          That virtue lies therein,
A secret virtue bringing peace and mirth
               By flight of sin.

Take of this grain, which in my garden grows,
               And grows for you;
     Make bread of it: and that repose
          And peace which ev’ry where
With so much earnestness you do pursue,
               Is only there.

George Herbert 1633

The structure of this poem is unusual: a parable within a parable. The strangely prospering grain, of course, ends up as the bread of communion. In that sense, this poem is rather trite. Yet it is interesting to note here with regards to that communion-bread connection that harvest, threshing, grinding, leavening, and baking of the grain are elided by ‘Make bread of it.’ Gone is the metaphoric suffering (shared with the wine of communion): an agricultural seed-bearing pod is violently abased, and then ferments, becoming something new. The abasement and fermentation of the plants, like the suffering and inspiration of the people, lead to new entirely new things which they could not have become without experiencing trauma, new things which are considered intrinsically more valuable. Here, Herbert has more of a prosperity gospel thing going on: the wheat grows easily, doesn’t suffer, is made into bread, and brings peace. Yes, the ‘Make bread of it’ would require the same as the perhaps more violently produced bread above, yet eliding over the metaphorical value of the ‘suffering’ is all the more striking in its absence with the presence of another metaphor there.

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