The trivial round road.

We need not bid, for cloistered cell,
Our neighbor and our work farewell,
Nor strive to wind ourselves too high
For sinful man beneath the sky:
The trivial round, the common task,
Would furnish all we ought to ask;
Room to deny ourselves; a road
To bring us, daily, nearer God.

-John Keble, from The Christian Year: Morning, 1827

GL John_Keble

10 thoughts on “The trivial round road.

  1. I think the image “wind ourselves too high” sounds very contemporary. It caught my attention. I can’t tell exactly what picture Mr. Keble was painting with the expression, but I’m thinking of wind-up toys. That fits for persons whose plans, decisions, schedules, actions are determined by their work. It also sounds like the popular, “I get all wound up about . . .”

    These two interpretations do not really get at the first meaning of the poem. I understand that the author is saying that the simple everyday life can bring us just as close to God as extreme forms of asceticism or “holiness” ; nevertheless as an extended meaning the “wind up” image could describe how sometimes even our efforts at following our vocation get us wound up or carried away, and thus become obstacles rather than achievements.

    On second thought, the phrases “too high” and “beneath the sky” make me wonder if “wind” isn’t really the noun (used now as a verb, through “poetic license” ?? 😎 hhhmmm) referring to the movement of air, as if to say “Like an unwanted strong wind, we blow ourselves too high– from pride.🤔

    (See how easy it is to get “wound up” over few words and turn oneself into a wind bag, rather than just enjoying the whole poem by simply reading it, and then saving it for rereading ! It was a temptation, and I succumbed.)


  2. I’ve always loved that the Church has designated the time between Pentecost and Advent as “ordinary time.” Without the ordinary, the extraordinary would be unrecognizable.


  3. Yes. ! Nothing trivial about it. 🙂 What I am drawn to in the monastic life (Benedictine) is the way their days are ordered, and how they fit everything else around that. And their reverence and appreciation of their surroundings – nature.


  4. This is so assuring! Especially to me at the stage in my life where I treasure nothing better than a nice ordinary day, a rut even. I wish you would follow this up with your thoughts on the lines you posted because I know you live it, I just know.


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