Tag Archives: Jan Steen

His Content in the Country

Meal. Jane Steen. 1650.


His Content in the Country

Robert Herrick


Here, here I live with what my board

Can with the smallest cost afford;

Though ne’er so mean the viands be,

They well content my Prue and me:

Or pea or bean, or wort or beet,

Whatever comes, Content makes sweet.

Here we rejoice, because no rent

We pay for our poor tenement;

Wherein we rest, and never fear

The landlord or the usurer.

The quarter-day does ne’er affright

Our peaceful slumbers in the night:

We eat our own, and batten more,

Because we feed on no man’s score;

But pity those whose flanks grow great,

Swell’d with the lard of other’s meat.

We bless our fortunes, when we see

Our own beloved privacy;

And like our living, where we’re known

To very few, or else to none.


Prew was Herrick’s housemaid Prewdence Baldwin.

‘Viands’ is food. A ‘usurer’ is one who lends money at an unreasonable rate of interest. The ‘quarter-day’ was one of four days of the year regarded as the beginning of a new season or quarter; quarterly payments were due then. A ‘score’ is a running account. ‘Lard’ is ‘fat,’ specifically of pork.

Prayer [I]

Prayer Before Meal. Jan Steen. 1660.


Prayer [I]

George Herbert


Prayer the church’s banquet, angel’s age,

God’s breath in man returning to his birth,

The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,

The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth,

Engine against th’Almighty, sinner’s tow’r,

Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,

The six-days world transposing in an hour,

A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;

Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,

Exalted manna, gladness of the best,

Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,

The milky way, the bird of Paradise,

Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood,

The land of spices; something understood.


A Little Poetry—My birthday falls on a Sunday this year, and I am celebrating with a favorite poem by a favorite religious poet. George Herbert presents in this poem an almost rhapsodic cascade of images—sometimes startling—of Christian prayer; human language is overwhelmed by divine plenitude.

Malcolm Guite shares on his blog an excellent excerpt about Herbert’s sonnet, from the book Faith, Hope, and Poetry. <http://malcolmguite.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/george-herbert-and-the-insights-of-prayer/>

A ‘plummet’ is a plumb line, used for measuring depth. An ‘engine’ is a mechanical device used in warfare.

Psalm 128

Prayer Before Meal. Jan Steen. 1665.


Psalm 128

(King James Version)


A Song of Decrees


Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.

For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.

Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.

Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.

The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.

Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.


A Psalm designated as a “Song of Decrees” was written to be sung by pilgrims on the road to the holy city of Jerusalem.

When the word LORD appears in the biblical translation in all capital letters, it indicates that God’s Holy Name—YHVH—is used in the original text.