Tag Archives: Jean-François Millet

Jordan [I]

The Church of Greville. Jean-François Millet.


Jordan [I]

George Herbert


Who says that fictions only and false hair

Become a verse? Is there in truth no beauty?

Is all good structure in a winding stair?

May no lines pass, except they do their duty

Not to a true, but painted chair?


Is it not verse, except enchanted groves

And sudden arbors shadow coarse-spun lines?

Must purling streams refresh a lover’s loves?

Must all be veil’d, while he that reads divines,

Catching the sense at two removes?


Shepherds are honest people; let them sing:

Riddle who list, for me, and pull for Prime:

I envy no man’s nightingale or spring;

Nor let them punish me with loss of rhyme,

Who plainly say, My God, My King.


Metaphysical poet George Herbert questions the idea that poetry must be a beautiful fiction—as C.S. Lewis phrased it, “breathing lies through silver.” The stanzas Herbert writes in honor of his God find their poetic beauty in truth and directness. Compare and contrast this poem with the Emily Dickinson poem that begins “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant,” featured yesterday on Wrestle with the Angel.

El pan

Woman Baking bread. Jean-François Millet. 1854.


El pan

from Platero y Yo

Juan Ramón Jiménez, 1914


Te he dicho, Platero, que el alma de Moguer es el vino, ¿verdad? No; el alma de Moguer es el pan. Moguer es igual que un pan de trigo, blanco por dentro, como el migajón, y dorado en torno—¡oh sol moreno!—como la blanda corteza.

A mediodía, cuando el sol querna más, el pueblo entero empieza de humear y a oler a pino y a pan calentito. A todo el pueblo se le abre la boca. Es como una gran boca que come un gran pan. El pan se entra en todo: en el aceite, en el gazpacho, el queso y la uva, para dar sabor a beso, en el vino, en el caldo, en el jamón, en él mismo, pan con pan. También solo, como la esperanza, o con una ilusión…

Los panaderos llegan trotando en sus caballos, se paran en cada puerta entornada, tocan las palmas y gritan: “¡El panaderooo!”… Se oye el duro ruido tierno de los cuarterones que, al caer en los canastos que brazos desnudos levantan, chocan con los bollos, de las hogazas con las roscas…

Y los niños pobres llaman, al punto, a las campanillas de la cancelas o a los picaportes de los portones, y lloran largamente cancelas o a los picaportes de los portones, y lloran largamente hacia adentro: ¡Un poquiiito paaan!…


This Spanish poem is featured on Wrestle with the Angel in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15-October 15.

“El pan” (“The Bread”) is the thirty-eighth chapter in the poetic book Platero y Yo. In it, the poet sings the praises of fresh bread, which he describes as the “soul of Moguer” (the Spanish village in which he and his donkey Platero live). He describes its wonderful smell, texture, color, and even its sound. He describes many delicious pairings with bread—wine, grapes, cheese, ham—or “with the same, bread with bread.”


The Angelus. Jean-François Millet. 1859.



George Herbert


Thou hast given so much to me;

Give one thing more—a grateful heart.

See how thy beggar works on thee

By art.


He makes thy gifts occasion more,

And says, If he be in this crossed,

All thou hast giv’n him heretofore

Is lost.


But thou didst reckon, when at first

Thy word our hearts and hands did crave,

What it would come to at the worst

To save:


Perpetual knockings at thy door,

Tears sullying thy transparent rooms,

Gift upon gift. Much would have more

And comes.


This notwithstanding, thou wenst on

And didst allow us all our noise;

Nay, thou hast made a sigh and groan

Thy joys.


Not that thou hadst not still above

Much better tunes than groans can make,

But that these country-airs thy love

Did take.


Wherefore I cry and cry again,

And in no quiet thou canst be,

Till I a thankful heart obtain

Of thee—


Not thankful when it pleaseth me

(As if thy blessings had spare days),

But such a heart whose pulse may be

Thy praise.