Herrick's To Keep a True Fast

Is this a Fast, to keep
The Larder lean?
And clean
From fat of Veals and Sheep?

Is it to quit the dish
Of Flesh, yet still
To fill
The platter high with Fish?

Is it to fast an hour
Or rag'd to go,
Or show
A downcast look, and sour?

No; 'tis a Fast, to dole
Thy sheaf of wheat
And meat
Unto the hungry soul.

It is to fast from strife,
From old debate
And hate;
To circumcise thy life.

To show a heart grief-rent;
To starve thy sin,
Not Bin;
And that's to keep thy Lent.

From Celebrating the Seasons, p. 153

Robert Herrick (1591-1674) was a Cambridge educated priest in the Church of England. He served rural parishes. His only volume of poetry was published in 1648.

The cross above is from the Monastery of Lindisfarne. It was founded in AD 635 by St. Aidan on a small outcrop of land, now known as Holy Island, laying among the sands a mile and a half off the Northumberland coast.

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