Easter Wings Summary
George Herbert begins "Easter Wings" by referring to Adam's fall from glory in the initial chapters of Genesis. Although Adam was given much "wealth and store," he, like all of mankind, was "foolish" and "lost the same." The next few lines are as follows:
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
Most poore . . .
Because of Adam's original sin, his previously glorious life, in which everything he needed was provided for him, was taken away; humankind as a whole began to suffer and "decay," becoming "most poore."
In line 6, the speaker shifts the poem to include himself. As he does so, the lines begin to shift in tone, becoming more hopeful and ecstatic. The speaker wants to move past the struggles and sufferings of the world; he implores God,
O let me rise
As larks, harmoniously.
The verb "rise" is reminiscent of Easter, the day on which Christ defeated death and rose into the eternal life he promises to believers. The speaker calls out to his Creator to allow him to rise in order to proclaim God's "victories"—both historically, reflecting the beginnings of this stanza, and personally. Thus, God redeems the fall of man by providing a way to eternal life for the speaker: "Then shall the fall further the flight in me."
In the second stanza, the speaker notes that, because of original sin, he himself was born into "sicknesses and shame." This sin affects his life until he is punished until he is "thinne" both physically and spiritually. Using the exact same words as line 6—"With thee"—line 16 shifts in tone again, becoming emblematic of ultimate union with God. The speaker wants to grow closer to God in order to become victorious over the sins of human life. He desires to utilize his current struggles for God's glory, and to do so, the speaker asks that God allow him to "imp my wing on thine." To imp is to affix something to a falcon's wing in order to repair it; thus, in Herbert's metaphor, the speaker is as the broken wing and needs God to restore his ability for flight. Ultimately, God has the power to help the speaker overcome the struggles associated with sin; if He helps the speaker,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.