People of the Book
A Blog about Book Publishing from a Catholic Perspective

To Keep A True Lent

February 21st, 2007

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 ragg’d to go,
                  Or show
A down-cast 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
     And 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.

Robert Herrick (1591-1674)


  1. Ana Braga-Henebry wrote,

    Hi– I enjoy your blog very much. I lead lit groups off and on and am always in search of Catholic literature titles to tackle. O’Connor, Waugh and Hansen are some of our bookshelves’ mainstays. Of course trying to instill a love for Flannery is sometimes an impossible if humbling task.
    Wondering today if I could have your permission to publish this gem of a poem in my own personal blog?

    Comment on February 22, 2007 @ 8:49 am

  2. Jim Manney wrote,

    Thank you Ana. The poem is firmly in the public domain. Publish away. My friend Paul Campbell, SJ brought it to my attention. It’s his favorite Lent poem, and mine as well.

    Comment on February 22, 2007 @ 1:22 pm

  3. Ana Braga-Henebry wrote,

    Thanks so much!

    Comment on February 22, 2007 @ 5:49 pm

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