1 Are You There God?

It¶s Me, George: A Meditation on Herbert¶s Style and Music When approaching the work of 17th century devotionalist poet George Herbert, we find an array of formal innovations and a continual tide of religious feeling in spiritual conflict with the Judeo-Christian God. How does a secular reader in the twenty-first century approach this work? The critic Helen Vendler has drawn attention to the way critics (from Coleridge to Auden) have emphasized the necessity of understanding the Christian allusions and framework in order to fully enjoy the work (4). Vendler also notes that perhaps the ideal reader for Herbert¶s work is the reader with the secular background (4). In some ways, Herbert anticipates the secular viewpoint, writing ³How hath man parcel¶d out thy glorious name, And thrown it on that dust which thou has made, While mortall love doth all the title gain! Which siding with invention, they together Bear all the sway, possessing heart and brain, (Thy workmanship) and give thee share in neither´ (³Love I,´ 3-8)

But if Herbert so firmly decries secular poetry that gives all the title to mortal love rather than God¶s glory, his work can still be appreciated by the secular reader as it confronts stylistic problems of how the self that is woven ³into the sense´ tries to write toward God (Jordon [II], 14). Our goal here is to learn how to let the poems teach us to how to read them, so that through the problem of plain/elaborate writing and the use of earthly/divine music, we might understand just what Herbert means by ³God,´ and what he means by ³man,´²the recurring ³Thou´ and ³I´ relationship²and what Herbert means in representing this relationship, and what representation itself can mean as both a problem and a solution. If style indicates world-view, Herbert¶s preoccupation with style allows the secular reader into the world of his speaker¶s heavenly and earthly conflict.

and to the material of poetry.´ who abandon him. but instead. The first confrontation with the possibility of losing language occurs in the first stanza where the speaker trembles to think of how the harbingers of death ³behold´ his ³head. and ³disimpark/ those sparkling notions´²but even deprived of these notions. Church. concludes with a surprisingly self-mocking couplet about God¶s pleasure/satisfaction with ³that ditty´ (11). a poet. ungratefully.´ i.´ and ³have´ his ³brain. The order of words is odd. 24). Here we see that the language the poet chooses must retain a certain elevation . this poem rests on its ³sparkling notions´ with ³sweet phrases´ and ³lovely metaphors´ that are ultimately seen through as what they are: elaborate language acts that ³hurt thy self and him that sings thy note´ (4. though: we would think that perhaps if he wrote ³fine and witty´ it might ³please´ God. addressing the harbingers directly. The speaker.2 ³The Forerunners´ emerges not only as a powerful production of the stakes involved in much of the plainspoken humility of Herbert¶s speakers but also as a dramatic invocation of contradictory attitudes toward language.´ his ³lovely metaphors. Unlike some of Herbert¶s µplainer¶ verses. the poet¶s faith still resides in his God (1-6)./ Honey of roses´ (19-20). a respectful and appropriate level of language to the occasion of attending Church. embellishment rises to our view. 13. evidenced in this witty couplet (11-12). as he gives himself over to a sugaring and misting of his precious ³lovely enchanting language.e. The poet becomes a semi-father figure to his ³sweet phrases. even though he has devoted himself to bringing them to God¶s house. But this levity towards writing unfolds into a solemn renunciation of ³sparkling notions´ and ³fine and witty´ workings. to the harbingers of Death. senility) in a series of addresses to God. sugar-cane. alternately read. the effect of pleasing God is given as a retroactive cause of the fineness and wittiness of his writing. situates his confrontation with approaching death (or. ³well-dressed and clad. The fourth stanza reveals another shift. The second stanza.

in context.´ We should be suspicious by the forceful declaration of where ³true beauty´ dwells (notice that verticality is the rubric here: it must be on high.´ we realize. how are we to read. But the fifth stanza problematizes the prior claims when the speaker makes a seemingly pocketable truisim about beauty that. I pass not´ (31).3 appropriate to ³Church´ and above the plainness of ³a sty´ (24-25). and these lines themselves demonstrate the level of desired diction. ³Yet. if you go. quickly takes on ambivalence: ³True beauty dwells on high. Ours is a flame/ But borrowed thence to light us thither.´ it can lead one to one¶s ³bane.´ because we can feel ³how much of a stake [we] have in the extenuating justifications´ of language rehearsed here (220). as well as firmness and playfulness.´ so that one ³soil[s]´ ³thy broidered coat´ and ³hurt[s] thy self and him´ (Christ. stepping back. who ³sings thy note´ on your behalf).´ Can we take this at face-value? Critic Stanley Fisher explicates this difficult moment by noting how on an initial reading (and perhaps on subsequent reads) the poem¶s consistenty of convincing argument up until this point makes us ready to believe this confirmation of ³art and language. this declarative moment against the fragility and tenderness. tonally. ³Beauty and beauteous words should go together. The danger of elaborate language is that like a lover. and made to tilt in the direction of go away when we read it in the terms of the beginning of the next stanza. who can enchant with ³sugar-cane´ and ³honey of roses. as opposed to resting on the soil of the earth) and what exactly true beauty is. But when the speaker declares ³Beauty and beauteous words should go together. Herbert almost satirizes the ease with which one can . that the ³go´ is ambiguous. which starts. Speak too sweetly and find yourself in ³folly´ (27)./ Beauty and beautuous words should go together. of earlier lines? What kind of presumption is in this seemingly triumphant declaration? This definitional concern over true beauty and this question of reading the declarative give way to the problem posed by the conclusion.

and so his reader in his readerresponse theorizing is not quite the reader we¶re thinking of here. pressed to the point of 1 We can also see Herbert¶s emphasis on rereading in Coloss. The first requires reading a diagonally italicized line (one word italicized in each line so that when you read all the italicized words you find a sentence which must be reread in context of the nonitalicized lines).´ in 1) a sudden dramatic appreciation of life when death is so near. We might say the white chalk on the door represents a plainness of language at its bleakest and palest. where the speaker consents to ³let a bleak paleness chalk the door/ so all within be livelier than before´ (35-6)1. then. The second main way we can read the conclusion is as an allegory of attitude towards language. Stanley Fish¶s reading of the line-to-line syntactic strangulations and erosions is particularly interesting because it highlights this performativeness and situates this performativeness within the context of how the reader experiences word-by-word this performance (Fish 167). The second poem carries out its own destruction through disrupted syntax that begs multiple rereading attempts.4 offer such a truism by performing the difficulty of it in a poem that feels. and we can feel how the heaviness of the earlier ³enchanting language´ has lifted. . Implicit in this poem. This self-referential if sly performance of everlasting life is hinted at in the final line of the poem. We see here a confirmation of Herbert¶s belief in the burial of meaning that must be excavated through multiple rereadings. 3. Fish assumes the reader has a greater understanding of the Bible than a secular reader might. and in its wake. is an indictment not only of the act of writing but of the act of reading. as its density and syntax requires us to.3 and The Church Monuments. more like ³an embroidered coat´ than the simple garb of his other poems. Against the seeming silence of the poem¶s end the poem comes alive each time we reread it. the most sincere representation of a language that contains its honest doubts and anxieties about the proximity of death. in its variety of imagery and complexity. The plain language the speaker arrives at and uses derives from the fact of the circumstance. We can read this conclusion in mulitple ways. The first reading acknowledges the presence of death through its mark on the entrance to one¶s living space. 2) a vision of the ³livelier´ afterlife. a mark made ³so [that] all within´ the house ³be livelier than before.

particularly the second section which uses a similar framework of ³Farewell´ as well as a white color palette. Take your way´ (31)2. the speaker can only shortly and plainly declare: ³Yet. These extended explication I¶ve conducted so far demonstrates how the secular reader can follow Herbert¶s spiritual conflicts with God and debate on how to write because they point to each other. The sweet phrases and lovely metaphors appear with a certain weight of selfreferentiality that we no longer feel by the time we are letting ³winter have his fee. the silencing of the voice. nothing like Love III which we will discuss later. a form of liveliness. the emphasis rests on God in the outside world and in the mind. The level of language (plain or ³embellished´) coincides with the speaker¶s understanding not only of his own consciousness but the way in which his consciousness must approach not only Death but also God²in other poems. but to do so would miss the staging in the poem of the plainness of the language against (or over) the complexity of the metaphoric thought. The question of how to write towards God involves an exploration of the self and its complex relationship not only towards God but towards oneself and the multiple stages the self moves through in dismantling the barriers between the self and God. a difference in prepositionality indicates a different relationship to farewell because of a different relationship to the fading object./ Thou did I wash you with my tears: and more/ Brought you to Church well dressed and clad´ (14-18). This comparison is one of many we could make between Herbert and 20th century Englishlanguage poets if we were to stake out a lineage of possible influence.5 no return. Although a crucial difference is that Stevens writes ³Farewell to an idea«´ [emphasis mine].3 We see then that one of the central stylistic questions posed in this poem is the level of elaborateness in the language one uses. I pass not. 3 We might compare ³The Forerunners. The language contains within its ambiguities the necessity of mulitple rereadings. highly self-referential. how to write is silkily intertwined with what to write.´ even though the final lines are. We could chalk this up to mere syntactic variety. too (³The harbingers are come.´ with Wallace Stevens¶ The Auroras of Autumn. the emotional weight has increased and we feel the absence of the heavier syntactic constructions of ³When ye before/ Of stews and brothers only knew the doors. This is all to say that the level of the language here is not consistently plain. against the death and silence implied by the closure of the poem. . and the 2 The speaker begins the poem with declaratives. But that we have to reread to note the self-referentiality indicates its depth. See. see their mark. if you go.´) but by the time they recur in the final stanza. on a closer look. since God¶s presence together with the speaker¶s ³love and trust´ ³make[s] one place everywhere´ (27-8).

the other a confirmation of Life. like myself) might not know the Bible the same way Herbert did. My God My king4. such as to the river Jordan. of barriers. if all the speaker is saying is ³My God. The presence of footnotes can only do so much for throwing into light some aspects of the Biblical. the inclusion of faithful utterances (Thou art my god. I have done as much. My King. Does the presence of footnotes contradict Vendler¶s insistence that one need not know the religious framework if the poem is very good? I don¶t think so.´ and that ³painted chairs. presumably of items one might not know. (Wallace Stevens would clearly have a day of fields with these lines). passed over) to be evident by a typological reading between the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. she may or may not take it upon herself to research the biblical references and grounding. Certainly the typological reading enriches our understanding of the poem. But how are we to respond to this seeming affirmation of the pastoral tradition.´ are to be overturned. That we don¶t need to consult the Bible to understand the work can be read as an affirmation of the work¶s strength.W. etc) prevents us from missing the way the faith matters to Herbert5. The poem ³Prayer [1]´ performs the difficulty of easy understanding (we will look at Prayer [I] later). in expectation that the audience (undergraduate readers. 5 In his reading of ³The Forerunners. but it is also valuable.Norton anthology which includes Herbert¶s work. I primarily used the W. where the speaker decries ³fictions onely and false hair´ that pass as ³verse´ and insists that not ³all good structure´ resides ³in a winding stair. as a way to access 4 The plainness of these utterances²³My God. He notes the ambiguity of the final stanza by establishing that ambiguity between the interpretations of the harbingers¶ marks on the door (one a sign of soon-to-arrive Death. one sees many little numbers at the bottom with little sentences. I suppose that I am also implying that as the reader becomes more fascinated with Herbert¶s work. rather than providing a steady glow of background understanding which illuminates other poems more clearly religious in detail like ³The British Church. Throughout my work on Herbert. this affirmation of the shepherd as an ideal figure? Does it still make compelling poetry to a secular reader. and other allusions. This assumption about knowledge tells us much but most relevant here is the attitude this creates in the reader in how. that verse must not be ³enchanted groves/ and sudden arbours´ that ³shadow course-spunne lines´ and that all must not ³be vail¶d´²the reader does not need to read and always ³divine. but it¶s not necessary for a preliminary understanding and appreciation for the tones Herbert strikes.6 barriers are made of words and the words are made of perceptions and understandings that participate in a system of relations./ Catching the sense at two removes´ (1-15). looking up ³The Passion´ for example. but can accrue in moments of perception and feeling. My king´? What interests me here at least is the way the speaker rebukes the overelaborate style of fiction and turns to a plainness of faith as a solution. This way of reading Herbert is valuable to those secular readers approaching Herbert for the first time and seeing what strikes their fancy.´ where lovely language chants and enchants. but the question lifts itself: how much work one should or needs to do to ³understand´ a poem? I will say that understanding does not have to (nor does it often) happen in a humongous dazzling all-atonceness.´ unfolds within the rhetorical argumentation of Jordan I.´ . and in this anthology the editors included many helpful annotations.´ Fish relies greatly on biblical knowledge and assumptions of the familiarity of that knowledge. This is not to say that one can or even wants to overlook the central agency of faith in these poems²indeed. while this plainness of faith as solution loses its surefooting in ³The Forerunners. when looking at the page with a column of words centered on it.

´ and so gives God permission (as if God needed it) to ³stretch or contract me. Writing at all becomes a difficult act when. in the second-to-last stanza. This recognition of needing to make this permission known (to any force or form of life not immediately the speaker¶s own consciousness) immediately finds connection to the form in which he is working. and here we can see such burial in ³a grave too big for me. In ³The Temper. as the speaker in ³The Flower´ notes in addressing God.. because here the suffering is made legible and fresh. Herbert buries meaning in this ³grave´ so that it must be reread multiple times to be apprehended./ Those distances belong to thee. association. but constantly toward an outward state manifested by the speaker¶s perceptions of God. one of which is his ability to sympathetically render the relationship between God and the speaker. In other words.7 Herbert¶s particular lyrical strengths. metonymy. the speaker cries out: ³O rack me not to such a vast extent. thy poor debtor´ (21-24). but in Herbert this rhetorical ploy is almost seemless because no coordinating conjunctions indicate a shift in thought. First.´ How do we jump from God having a ³tent´ to that tent becoming a ³grave´ that¶s ³too big for me´? We recognize here a strategy of rhetorical complexity that we often call ³merely´ density of languge. the poem: ³This [struggle of you stretching and contracting me] is but tuning of my breast/ To make the music better´ (23-24)7./ The world¶s too little for thy tent. etc. the speaker¶s resistance in this painful struggle gives way to an acknowledgment of God¶s ³way´ which he is sure is ³best. ³Thy word is all´ (21). Notice that the poem begins with 6 We previously identified Herbert¶s burial of meaning. Then. 7 Here we see a vision of the artist suffering for his art. two poles established between which much abounds and elastically shifts. an absence of Herbert¶s that Vendler identifies as common and a great contributor to shallow readings of the work (3). if thy word is all. . then what could my word be? In what space does my word exist if thy word is all? The ³I´ and the ³thou´ here represent the tensions Herbert understands and represents to be constantly at play./ A grave too big for me´6 (9-13). A central element in this problem of style is the perceived or known omniptence of God and God¶s relationship to the word.´ the ³I´ and the ³thou´ struggle is composed of painful distances that nonetheless transform through the speaker¶s understanding of his own agency. but it has none of the self-indulgent tremblings we might see elsewhere.

both. rather. the free-floating quality of music finds corresponding imagery in ³whether´ the speaker ³fl[ies] with angels. ³something understood. fall.´ which thwarts our expectation (which so many of his other poems reward) of finding a tidy epiphanic conclusion (14). because he was writing in the 17th century). its self-sufficiency. and I am there´ (25-26).´ in many works by modern writers. The adequacy of this claim is of course up to debate. love.´ the poem presents its own tightly-rendered vagueness as. lack of transcendence´ (80). I would say that a number of his poems can find aspects that can correspond to what Owens identifies as typical of the postmodern.8 wondering ³how to praise thee Lord´ and thinks of itself as an engraving of ³thy love in steel. insufficiency. thy./ Thy hands made both. .´ since we can find these concern with ³activity of reference´ and ³ambition that must be perpetually deferred. angels. as do alternate aspects of this stanza. it is no longer to proclaim its autonomy. with. Indeed. there. it is to narrate its own contingency. fall with dust. the ³e´ sound 8 In ³The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism. Rather than trying to argue that Herbert is ³a postmodern poet. Herbert packs the lines that end in an abab rhyme scheme with strings of alliterative and assonantial echoes: the ³th´ of whether. he is constantly in reference to God: ³thy power and love´ coexists with ³my love and trust´ (26) and the lack of µand¶ between them means that both ³thy power and love. still intrigues me. the poem represents itself not as a steel engraving but as music. maybe the music is mine. ³When the postmodernist work speaks of itself. If God¶s word is all. its transcendence.´ whereas right before the finish of the poem. my love and trust´ collapse together into the oneness (of agency? Of place? Both?) described in the ³one place ev¶ry where´ (28)8. the ³l´ of fly. thy. In ³Prayer [1].´ (which he clearly can¶t be. which.´ Craig Owens proposes that postmodernism concerns itself with the activity of reference. And this music issues not from the voice (which is connected to the production of inadequate speech) but from the instrument of his ³breast´ which needs ³tuning´ (24). relies on music. a floating unfolding sequence of auditory signs that has. whether or not this is what postmodernism will be understood to be in a hundred years. love. And this collapse. in the final line. more power to represent the tone and struggle of the speaker by transcending the inadequacy of the written word. The speaker emphasizes that wherever he is physically. as are all claims that try to distinguish between Modernism and ³Postmodernism. it seems.

´ Herbert performs the inadequacy of speech under the guise of a list of somewhat recognizable religious images that seem to try to ³paraphrase´ a specific understanding of prayer (3). remember. the bird of Paradise´ and in a move that questions the distinction I¶ve made between man well dressed and the milky way. rather than a series of metaphors. and if so. and with them come the complications of making both musical sounds and (unfortunately.9 that starts and ends the stanza in ³whether´ and ³everywhere.´ suggesting a contained place that includes all positions (flying and falling) the stanza itself describes in the last line. Formally. In ³Prayer [1]. we suddenly behold an image that combines both levels: the music of ³Church-bells beyond the stars heard. the working parts are still words. Herbert envisions the Biblical creation of the world as a divine melody which has a unique power for life forms with consciousness: ³The six-days¶ world transposing in an hour. Music frequently occurs as an image as well as strategy in Herbert¶s work. then. This turn to music as a metaphor unlocks a sequence of abstract nouns of great tingling feeling: ³Softness and peace and joy and love and bliss´ that settles down to ³man well dressed. is that all we need to know? The juxtaposition of these stanzas suggests that after one acknowledges first that God¶s way is best.´ which is punctuated with a colon to . the local and the cosmic. in ³The Forerunners´) before jumping up the cosmic scale to ³the milky way. but however musical the effects of his work. perhaps) of being woven into sense. the poem uses the framework of a sonnet but as a whole it seems to refute the way a sonnet allows an argument to build in clear stages. become the way to write towards God. and then having understood oneself to be using music rather than ³engraved steel´ to ³praise thee Lord. Does music./ A kind of tune which all things hear and fear´ (6-7).´ finally we arrive at the revelation wherein the initial task of praise finally circles around in a sudden adequate articulation. After the first six lines.´ (a similar image appears.

In moving from image to image as well as allusion to allusion. a ³Land of Spices.´ which breaks the line to behold. the writer is suggesting a certain ³inexhaustibility´ not only of the divine but of the writer¶s power to make images in order to relate to the divine9 (Shullenberger 110).10 implicate ³the soul¶s blood. however. . almost alienated by the experience the language has made possible as much as tantalized by the suggestiveness. that the b sound of ³bells´ repeats in the nearby ³bliss. The role of the reader is implicated in the fact of having read these vague phrases whose ability to be ³understood´ is called into question (is it necessary to understand?) but so is the writer.´ and ³blood. The passive voice in the final phrase is significant because it positions the agent of understanding²the reader.´ which rhymes with the final word of the poem. recognizing the transformations of and in and with the physical world.´ and the plainness of ³softness and peace and joy and love and bliss. crying out to the hierarchy of angels. the person performing the prayer²as outside the picture. to see who can hear him. and das Leere: the Void. uses prepositions (the famous Rilkean beyond of the arrow gathered in the snap of release against the pounding Rilkean interiority of huge strange thoughts boarding within you) to implicate the distance between himself and what he imagines himself to address: God. instead. Both Herbert and Rilke navigate this writing toward God (³the awful rowing toward God. In the Duino Elegies. felt. The primary effect of this dizzying derangement of scale for a secular reader might be simply that we feel ³something´ has been ³understood´ at best and at the very least. all of a sudden. we might say Prayer [I] is a necessary stage for Herbert for the withholding of meaning as triumphant and stable connection with God.´ ³best. Herbert uses the soil of the Earth as the horizontal axis to base his upward gaze. ³understood´) (11).´ where we are situated against ³something understood.´ ³bird´ ³bells. the seventh elegy marks the turning point from looking toward the angels for transcendence to. And the language of the poem is that of ³Heaven in everyday. too. the angels. In this way.´ is linked to the plainness with which we can readily identify 9 Aren¶t prepositions the most elegiac of the parts of speech? We might think of the twentieth century German poet Rainer Marie Rilke¶s ³Duino Elegies.´ as American confessional poet Anne Sexton wrote).´ as if the understanding were the landing-place of the music of the bells (notice.´ in which the speaker. a place.

love. when a ³friend´ (God? Jesus?) whispers to him that commonsense is better sense yet: ³how wide is all this long pretence!´ Furthermore the friend notes the readiness of the poet¶s subject. Herbert¶s awareness of writing and music is grounded in his understanding of speech and sense. Implicit then is the inadequacy of speech that merely relies on sense. ³Plainness makes sublimity possible.´ ³speech alone/ Doth vanish like a flaring thing/ And in the ear not conscience ring´ (252). As William Shullenberger writes.11 these feelings when they occur in us. also must guide the poetic work. But this sense gets overturned again. Herbert performs the psychic struggle within the act. These flames take on the intertwining power of how the poet can declare: ³I weave my self into the sense. and how its sweetness ³ready penned. so that all the poet has to do is ³copy out that´ (13). Jordan [II] articulates the stages of a poet¶s thinking through how to write without ³decking the sense.´ how to ³clothe the sun´ and the joys that ³trample on [the sun¶s] head´ (5. 11-12).´ (111). The burden falls to the senses to apprehend all this teeming information. providence. It seems that Herbert¶s rendering of sense and poetry here undermines the agency he elsewhere ascribes to the poet. for the passage evocatively combines and mingles what we readily understand²food. As he writes in ³The Windows. as if it were to sell. If we expected prayer to be a form of three hail-mary¶s.´ (14). but is it not also the landing-place of music? Speech. not merely rhetorical. stars. Is he denigrating the ear as a receiving space? He points out the ear as a target for speech. for Herbert. in Herbert¶s use of the word. unless it is animated by a poetic principle. but sense. only the ear. and the quickness of the poet¶s thoughts correspond in the last stanza to ³flames´ that ³do work and wind when they ascend. then we thought wrong. Paradise. does not reach the conscience.´ almost writes itself. that³dost him afford/ This glorious and transcendent place´ (34). But . church-bells²with what we usually only faintly and fitfully apprehend²Heaven.´ a direction pointing toward God.

the tip behind the lower teeth)). the poem epitomizes the resolution of the issues we¶ve considered here: speech and sense and music and style. questioning. as Vendler well knows.´ in response to which Love reassures him that ³Who made the eyes but I?´ No music references appear in the poem. The soul who has come before God speaks plainly and within the realm of basic sense and denigrates himself as unworthy. it¶s clear that Hebert has defined a range of tones to work in when confronting the problem of how to write. ³unkinde. the poem is ³clearly a response to St. then Herbert¶s most famous poem. but the music of the poem itself is extraordinarily welltuned (notice the perfect scattering of ³n´s in the first stanza in sinne. For however appealing are the ³luster´ of the lines he writes in which he mentions ³heav¶nly joys. as we noted before.´ where all humor has evaporated in the steam of approaching death. so that the tongue making the ³ng´ sound almost bows in supplication in the mouth (middle of tongue against the roof of the mouth. nearer. At the same time. And yet if. My King´ but does not rely on the same structure of rhetorical questions of Jordan I which lends to that poem an air of pride that . in. But as Helen Vendler notes. God¶s word is All and His.´ Herbert directs himself to a plain approach more befitting the seriousness and degree of the task at hand. Love (III) offers a different view of a welcoming and gracious God in the form of Love. ungratefull. any. thing. Love III resides in the same hall as the cry of ³My God. isn¶t necessary to an apprehension of this rather elegant poem. as The Flower suggested. Paul. observing.12 there¶s a lightness to this admonition that prevents us from treating it as seriously as we do ³The Forerunners. Paul¶s definition of Charity´ whereby we are expected to be able to place this poem in the context of St. But the metaphor of writing appears nowhere in this poem and the surface of the poem is so undisturbed (so contrary to ³Prayer [1]´!) that I almost decided not to discuss it at all. but doing so. entrance. In many ways.

author of this great frame. where the heart is faced with a variety of lights. . Clearly. move beyond the ³something understood´ (itself a valuable state) into a deeper regard for the sensitivity of the work and its surprising freshness. III suggests the success Love III held for Herbert. not always in that order) to the given order of the words (158).10 Herbert¶s poetry is in part remarkable because it seemingly effortlessly guides us across multiple stanzas into a ³satisfying´ (does this mean conventional?) conclusion where it seems God¶s ultimate oneness rules and the speaker¶s self has been tested and µresolved¶. surprise.13 becomes the grace of sitting down to eat in Love III. But my analysis. for the secular reader. 14). the poem¶s moods of humility. II.´ of Love I who is so involved in ³all the sway´ of wit and beauty and the game of singing praise and the task of writing ³of love´ (1. For the calm. humorous temperament. Stanley Fish¶s criticism is helpful in noting the stages of ³letting go´ and complicating those stages by conducting highly sensitive performative readings that enact from moment to moment how the reader responds (mute assent. I believe. But it is through the tracing of stylistic registers that we appreciate the magnitude of Herbert¶s understated achievements. though agreeing with some of the bigger end-game points as it regards the final vision the poems find themselves in. it is so. whatever our theological background. selfcriticism and humor are inflected by the religious discourse but are not produced entirely by them: the emotional issues struggle very much in the air outside the glass windows of the church. confusion. If the calmness that concludes the poem² the soothed soul. smiling. hestitation. departs from his²I¶ve emphasized a secular readership who can. the appeased supplicant²is so powerful. in part of because it stands in utter contrast to the stylistic battles Herbert fought in order to achieve this winning gracefulness and affable. 10 The fact that Love III closes The Temple and is the final poem in the sequence of poems entitled Love I. welcoming Love of Love III is not the ³immortal Love.

"The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism. Columbia: University of Missouri." "Bright Shootes of Everlastingnesse": the Seventeenth-century Religious Lyric. "The Dialectic of the Self in Herbert's Poetry. Print. Print. Helen Hennessy. Owens. 1975. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth.14 Works Cited Fish. 1998. Criticism. Cambridge. John P. William. Print. Stanley Eugene.P. Ed. "George Herbert. Shullenberger. MA: Harvard U. Print.W. Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP. 1987. ." Seventeenth-century British Poetry: 1603-1660: Authoritative Texts.. Rumrich and Gregory Chaplin." October 12 (1980): 67-86. "Ars Praedicandi in George Herbert's Poetry. Vendler. 2006." Self-consuming Artifacts: the Experience of Seventeenth Century Literature. 2011. Web. By Claude J. The Poetry of George Herbert. Norton. JSTOR. 15 Oct. New York: W. Craig.

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