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Home » » Discuss Herbert as a religious poet

George Herbert, in temperament and style of his writings, ranks among an outstanding group of poets known as the metaphysical, and by his faith in God and religion, he stands as the most distinguished Anglican poet among the group. His poetry is a record of strivings, failures, and victories in the practice of the Christian life. He gave up a life of worldly pleasures and worldly ambition to become a country priest and to devote himself to the service of God, both in the capacity of a poet and as a priest in practical life.

Herbert is a poet clergy who feels the supreme existence of the Creator in all living beings, and who realizes the endless outpouring of love and care of the Almighty God towards His creatures. His is the best type of meditative and devotional churchmanship. In the spiritual apprehension of the Divine Being through contemplation he is second to none.

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of existence, truth, and knowledge and this philosophy inspired Herbert to meditate upon the Divine Authority and discover the hidden truth that lies in our lives---why we have come to this earth and what is the goal of this life? Herbert's poetry is a sequence of religious poems, conceived and cast in the pattern of a morality play. The chief subjects of his poetry are the Incarnation, the Passion, and the Redemption. He talks of man's relation to God, of the body to the soul, and of life here to the life hereafter. In this relationship, he often shows rebellion, reconciliation, and final submission. His impression is that man is inadequate in his obedience and unseemly in his disobedience to God. He sees the things of daily life in direct relation to a supernatural order. Heavenly truths are indeed what he looks for in all his poems. He argues with himself, with God, and with other supposed audiences to arrive at some mystical reality of life.

Like all metaphysical, Herbert suffers from self-division, but he is sure of his ultimate success in reaching spiritual heaven. His poems, most of which are argumentative, depict a conflict between the worldly and the unworldly pleasures but at the end of each, he asserts his faith in the divine life of a Christian.

Herbert's poetry is metaphysical by its subject matter. His poem, "Easter Wings", is a reflection on the Resurrection of Christ. It conveys the philosophy of the realization of man's sinfulness, the miseries misfortunes, sorrows, sickness, and disappointments which are the very basis of his regeneration and resurrection.

There is also a fusion of thought and feeling in Herbert's poetry. For example, " The Collar" provides a blend of passion and thought. The poet here feels impatient with the restraints which have been imposed upon his freedom by his priestly vocation, and he gives expression to his impatience and the feeling of rebellion that has arisen in him against his servitude to the church and God. However, in the course of a long debate within, the poet hears a gentle rebuke from God, and all his anger subsides and he immediately becomes humble and submissive towards his Maker.

We can say that Herbert is a great metaphysical poet both in matter and method. In emotion and thought, he is a poet of the inner spirit. In style he is intellectual, in diction he is homely and graceful and in the construction of his poems, he is logical. In belief and faith, he is a perfect Christian.


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