Monday, January 26, 2009

If Thou Could'st Empty All Thyself of Self

by Sarah Albrecht

As a teenager, I first found this poem by Sir Robert Browne quoted in Madeleine l'Engle's young adult novel, A Ring of Endless Light. The poem resonated then and still does. It has helped me catch myself when I am "replete with very me"--full of myself?--and has served as the catalyst over and over for a needed shift in perspective.

If Thou Could'st Empty All Thyself of Self

If thou could`st empty all thyself of self,
Like to a shell dishabited,
Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf,
And say, `This is not dead`,
And fill thee with Himself instead.

But thou art all replete with very thou
And hast such shrewd activity,
That when He comes, He says,
`This is enow
Unto itself - `twere better let it be,
It is so small and full, there is no room for me.`

--Sir Thomas Browne


Valerie Ipson said...

This is really quite a striking poem. Thanks for sharing.

Kari Pike said...

Wow...I love that poem. I am going to share it with my RS and with my kids. Thanks, Sarah!