Easter Wings Poem by George Herbert Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English for Students


George Herbert’s ‘Easter Wings’ is a straightforward but profound Christian poem on the fall of man and the speaker’s desire to ascend. The poet highlights the speaker’s experience of falling and rising by utilising the form of a bird’s wings. The speaker of the poem opens by talking about Adam’s creation and the creation of humanity as a whole. He talks about the man’s stupidity and how he wasted all that God had given him. This person’s decision is the reason the speaker is suffering now. He’s not content to remain that way, though. Throughout the entire poem, he begs God to let him emerge from the shadows and into the light. 

About the Poet 

George Herbert was a complex man who had a profound impact on Christian philosophy and English literature. He was born in 1593 and sadly died in 1633. Poetry by Herbert struck a chord with both readers and other poets. Poets like T.S. Eliot and Gerard Manley Hopkins were impacted by him centuries later, as were people like Henry Vaughan and Richard Crashaw. He is regarded as one of the greatest English-language devotional poets. 


George Herbert’s poem “Easter Wings” is a two-stanza shape, with each stanza structured so that the words make a different shape. When the two ten-line stanzas were first published, they took the form of two sets of wings and were arranged horizontally on the page. The poem is now typically read backward, making the stanzas resemble two hourglasses. 


Stanza 1

Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,

      Though foolishly he lost the same,

            Decaying more and more,

                  Till he became

                        Most poore:

                        With thee

                  O let me rise

            As larks, harmoniously,

      And sing this day thy victories:

Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

The speaker of “Easter Wings” addresses the Christian God as “Lord” at the opening of the first verse. “Man in wealth and store” is what this deity created. Everything Adam, the very first man, could require was present when he was formed. He had everything he should have been happy with food, shelter, and comfort. In the following lines, Herbert makes a subtle allusion to the Fall. He skips over the specifics of Adam and Eve along with the forbidden fruit. Rather, Jesus immediately addresses humanity’s “foolishness” and the loss of all that God has made for them. Things started to “more and more” deteriorate till “man” was “poore.”

The joyful and upbeat vision decreases as the lines do. The poem’s shortest lines are its darkest. Then, when they grow, everything brightens up again.

The speaker inserts themself into the poetry in the second part of this verse. He speaks to God, pleading with him to let him “rise” like a “lark.” In this analogy, the speaker is compared to a bird that is exalted beyond human folly. The speaker wants to overcome Adam’s decisions. Additionally, the speaker adds the Easter motif at this point in the poem. His desire is to rise with “thee.” This alludes to the occasion that is customarily observed to commemorate Christ’s resurrection. He requests permission to “sing” of his achievements and to climb to the extent that mankind was brought down in the final lines of the stanza. 

Stanza 2

My tender age in sorrow did beginne

      And still with sicknesses and shame.

            Thou didst so punish sinne,

                  That I became

                        Most thinne.

                        With thee

                  Let me combine,

            And feel thy victorie:

         For, if I imp my wing on thine,

Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

The speaker of “Easter Wings” keeps using first-person pronouns in the second stanza. He claims that because of the previous man’s decisions, he grew up into “sorrow.” The actions of Adam and Eve continue to affect him. The vision grows increasingly melancholic as the lines get thinner. He talks about the sin, the illness, and the gloom in his own life. It seems impossible to escape until the lines begin to widen once more. In the middle of the second stanza, the poem reverses course and emphasises how the speaker will rise “With thee,” or with God. The speaker acknowledges his dependence on God for flight. He will therefore “imp,” or support himself, by using the feathers on God’s wings. The speaker hopes to overcome the sin that is the foundation of the human race in this way.


With a direct approach to “Lord,” the first stanza bemoans the state of humanity. By calling Adam “foolish,” “weak,” and “betray’d,” it alludes to Adam’s fall from grace and emphasises the weight of inherited sin as well as the loss of pristine innocence. The speaker feels “bound,” unable to “reach” the divine, as a result of this fallen existence.

The poem does, however, take a more upbeat tone in the second stanza. By saying, “With thee,” the speaker alludes to dependence on God’s favour while acknowledging the power of Christ’s resurrection. By attempting to “imp” his wings with “a feather of thine,” he is alluding to the divine for assistance and vigour. This “imping” represents a longing to rise above the constraints of sin and death.

The repeated cry, “LIFT me up,” deepens the speaker’s longing. Acknowledging his frailty, he says he cannot “rise” without God’s help. The concept of “wings” now denotes both metamorphosis and ascent. The speaker aims to transform and obtain the spiritual wings required for flight by taking feathers from God’s wings.

The poem ends with a stirring proclamation of hope and trust. The speaker declares, “I shall then praise,” implying that he will overcome sin and arrive at a place of adoration and praise with God’s assistance. The last words, “I have a hope that thou wilt take pleasure in my flight,” reaffirm his faith that his ascent and participation in the everlasting celebration of Easter’s victory. “Easter Wings” is essentially a contemplative prayer on how Christ’s sacrifice has redeemed humanity. It shows the battle with sin, the desire for spiritual ascent, and the final reliance on God’s grace to accomplish real spiritual flight and give thanks to Him in everlasting delight. Despite its short length, the poem leaves a deep impression on the reader with its stirring message of transformation and optimism.