Herbert's Poems

ENGL 520

Dr. Fike


Everyone should prepare "the Collar," "The Altar," and "Love (III)" (the poem that ends "The Church")—379:  how is this an appropriate poem for the end of "The Church"?  We will end our discussion with this poem.


I will assign one of the following numbered questions to each person/group.  Read all of Herbert’s poems in the anthology.  Study the poems in your numbered question.  Then you (or you and your group) should decide how to make a brief presentation to class:  either a detailed commentary on one poem or a more synthetic and general reflection on two or more.


It is very appropriate to write response papers about your work.


  1. What do the following six poems teach us about Herbert’s vocation and life as a priest?



  1. Along the way, Herbert had a lot of health issues.  What do these five poems suggest about the relationship between the body/physical health and spirituality?


·        Affliction (I)—364

·        The Pulley—376

·        Church-monuments—366

·        Life—371

·        The Flower—377


  1. The poet records other obstacles as well.  What impediments to spiritual growth do these four poems describe?


·        Affliction (I)—364

·        Vanity I—368

·        The Pearl. Matth. 13:45—369

·        The Pilgrimage—375


  1. Yet there are also high points.  What means of spiritual growth are present in the following five poems?


·        Redemption—363

·        The H. Scriptures I and II—366

·        Virtue—369

·        Paradise--375


  1. In poems, form can sometimes be meaning.  How do the formal elements of the following poems contribute to our understanding of their meaning?


·        The Altar—363

·        Easter Wings—364 

·        Prayer I—365

·        Denial—367 


  1. What do these seven poems suggest about language and poetry itself, especially as regards religious faith?


·        The H. Scriptures I and II—366

·        Denial—367

·        Jordan I and II—366 and 371

·        The Quip—371

·        NB: poetic pride vs. opposition to rhetorical qualities