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Home » » Show Herbert as a lyric poet?

A lyric is a short poem uttered by a single speaker who expresses a state of mind or a process of perception, thought and feeling. A lyric seems to have come directly from the poet's heart, without any effort or labour on his part. The principal qualities of a lyric are: music or melody, strong emotion, personal revelation, spontaneity and imagination. Herbert is definitely a lyric poet, although he does not deal with the theme of love or passion as Donne does. The only love he knows is the love of God or the love of Jesus Christ, and the only passion he knows is the agony that Christ suffered for the sins of mankind. Herbert's poems are musical, simply, spontaneous, strongly emotional, highly imaginative and deeply personal. 

Music and melody are the remarkable qualities of Herbert's poetry. He produces music of his verses by means of such devices as alliteration, assonance and rhyme. From the technical point of view, Herbert is a versatile genius who employs a very large number of stanzaic forms in simple language. 

Herbert's lyrics possess a kind of emotional intensity that arise out of a deep religious devotion. The sincerity and depth of his devotion to God are unquestionable. He has rightly been called a saint among this metaphysical poets.

As Herbert is a poet of religious meditations, most of his lyrics are saturated with passion and devotion. This means there is a fusion of emotion and intellect, feelings and logical reasoning. The poem "Easter Wings" celebrates Christ's Resurrection. At the same time, it expresses the poet's earnest desire to fly upward like a lark in order to achieve spiritual elevation.

The pattern of the poem reminds us of the wings of a lark flying upwards. The poet wishes to fly upwards like a bird. He wants to fly upwards just as Christ ascended to heaven on the third day after the crucifixion. On the occasion of Easter is the festival celebrating Christ's ascension. On this occasion of Easter, the poet would like to fly upwards. The poet's fight is, of course, not a literal one but metaphorical in the sense of a spiritual elevation or regeneration. The pictorial device of the poem, its structure and detail give us a beautiful example of conceit which shows Herbert's faculty for blending emotion and intellect, feelings and logical arguments. 

Next we are to consider Herbert's personal and biographical character in his lyrics. Almost all his poems are deeply personal and expressive of his own feelings, emotions, thoughts, reasonings, doubts, conflicts, resolutions, reconciliation, consolations, etc. 

Further many of Herbert's lyrics are marked by dramatic quality, conceits, wits, etc. In "The Collar", the poet holds a conversation with himself and ultimately his revolutionary spirit leads to his complete surrender to God. For conceit we may refer to " Easter Wings " in which the poet makes a comparison between the upward flight of the lark and his spiritual upliftment.

To sum up, the religious poems of Herbert are the spontaneous outbursts of his feelings and love for God. They come directly from his heart and have the stamp of sincerity. That is why they are so much lyrical.

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