Keeping Your Faith Strong In George Herbert’s Poem The Flower

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'The Flower' by George Herbert is an enthusiastic, jubilant poem in which a special picture of the metaphysical life is broaden with peace of mind and sophistication that easily come into sight. Herbert’s poem reflects his own relationship with God that is repeatedly unsettled, many times ecstatic; not thinking of himself or his own prominence too much, in spite of never questioning God’s devotion, affection, and competence. Herbert uses a flower to correlate his belief adventure and to grant the reader into his personal life. Herbert’s message in his poem is keeping your faith strong throughout all of the good and bad times in your life. The Flower in George Herbert’s display the themes of the viewpoint on life and maintaining a good relationship with God, pleasant imagery, joyful and uplifting tone, interesting vocabulary, and literary criticism.

“George Herbert was born in Montgomery, Wales, the fifth son of Richard and Magdalen Newport Herbert. His father died in 1596, and Herbert was educated by his mother, a woman known for her piety as well as her patronage of John Donne, among other writers. Herbert attended Westminster School in London and went on to receive both bachelor's and master's degrees from Cambridge University. He subsequently taught at Cambridge and was appointed to the prestigious post of public orator for the university. This could easily have led to a political career, but he gave up secular ambition to study for the priesthood; he was ordained in 1630. Herbert took over the church at Bemerton, near Salisbury, England, in 1630. He began to rebuild the decaying church with his own hands and, mostly, his own funds. Herbert had been writing poetry, in English and Latin, since his university days. During his life, however, he published only a few poems. But his priestly career was short-lived, as he contracted and died of tuberculosis. The majority of Herbert's writings were published after his death.” (Hager).

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Herbert comprises the viewpoint on life and maintaining a good relationship with God are the two themes in this poem. “These are thy wonders, Lord of power, / Killing and quickening, bringing down to hell / And up to heaven in an hour, / Making a chiming of a passing-bell' (ln. 15-18). The speaker recognizes the power of God, the passing-bell was destined to signify the death of a parishioner and the chiming of a bell offers pleasant diversity. The concept of the flower’s feelings to make known clearly about the killing frosts: “The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring” (ln. 4). The flower loves the return of spring but frightened of a late frost and convinced that the harsh winter will in the course of time come again, lengthy for the lasting spring of “Paradise, where no flower can wither” (ln. 23) The flower’s selfishness and sinfulness it is watered and tries to seize heaven by its own growth and such vanity must then be penalized by God’s anger that is more rigid than frost. “But while I grow in a straight line, / Still upwards bent, as if heaven were mine own, / Thy anger comes, and I decline” (ln. 29-31). The speaker wants seemingly to reach God by climbing to heaven, just like a flower tries to reach towards for the sun.

Herbert veil of pleasant imagery in this poem. The poem begins from the outlook, view of a flower. While at first the flower may be regard as unconventional technique to writing about God however it is literally this ludicrous style that creates this poem compelling. “How fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean / Are thy returns! even as the flowers in spring” (ln. 1-2). You can imagine the flowers blooming in springtime and the speaker is in a triumphal mood over the seasons changing from winter to spring. The flower acknowledges that the Lord does in verifiable truth control the seasons, in nature, and its life. “I once more smell the dew and rain, / And relish versing” (ln. 38-39). The speaker can smell the after-rain, dew and relish.

Herbert uses joyful and uplifting as the tone in his poem. The tone is one of wonderment at how simple and natural is when “Grief melts away / Like snow in May, / As if there were no such cold thing” (ln. 5-7). The poem relates the ups and downs of a character’s spiritual experience to the seasonal changes in the life of a flower. In the third stanza of 'The Flower,' Herbert gives voice to an editorial of faith which is itself a statement of the action taking place: “We say amiss / This or that is: / Thy word is all, if we could spell” (ln. 19-21). A man’s joy is to be found in doing the decent, appointed obligation, still soaring or modest, which he has taken from God. The reward is marvelous from God, “hast a garden for us where to bide; / Who would be more, / Swelling through store, / Forfeit their Paradise by their pride” (ln. 46-49). Once the fit of uncertainty in faith has move onward, it is awfully difficult to recall ever having lack confidence in at all. “It cannot be / That I am he / On whom thy tempests fell all night” (ln. 40-42). The work of God can be understood once we the people have generally agreed upon our mortality, and bend like flowers, to the will of God, then we the people also will see that he caters and supports the most remarkable garden for any kind of flower to live in.

Interesting vocabulary that Herbert uses in his poem. “Demesne” (ln. 3), meaning is domain and demeanor. “Shriveled heart” (ln. 8), meaning are the sorrows that seem to fade into the past. “Greenness” (ln. 9), meaning is to revive. “Spell” (ln. 21), meaning is to read. “Offering” (ln. 25), meaning is aiming. “Shower” (ln. 27), meaning is the tears of contrition. “Bent” (ln. 30), meaning is being directed. “Glide” (ln. 44), meaning is to slip silently away. “Prove” (ln. 45), meaning is having experience.

Literary criticism in The Flower by George Herbert. “The syntactical structures of this poem are no more successful at discerning or distinguishing than are the monuments they so unclearly present. Indeed, the forms of both (syntax and monuments) collapse simultaneously before the reader's eye, and with them collapses the illusion they together perpetuate, the illusion that the world of time and space” (Fish). “Confronted with a poem of Herrick's, a critic has something of a problem. Although he can easily murmur about poetic gems, or say, such comments are not completely satisfying. Perhaps for that reason Herrick's poems have not, in this century, received the attention they deserve. Too often they have been either accepted as conventionally important, and thus not discussed seriously, or else dismissed scornfully as trivial and sentimental” (Whitaker). “The writer is not content with the obvious properties of natural objects but delights in discovering abstruser relations between them and the subject of his thought... It has been justly said of Herbert that if his thought is often recondite and far fetched yet the language is always simple and chaste... Language is an organ on which men play with unequal skill and each man with different skill at different hours. The man who stammers when he is afraid or when he is indifferent, will be fluent when he is angry, and eloquent when his intellect is active” (Emerson).

The Flower by George Herbert is an enthusiastic, jubilant poem in which a specific picture of the metaphysical life is broaden with peace of mind and sophistication that easily come into sight. Herbert’s poem reflects his own relationship with God that is repeatedly unsettled, many times ecstatic; not thinking of himself or his own prominence too much, in spite of never questioning God’s devotion, affection, and competence. Herbert uses a flower to correlate his belief adventure and to grant the reader into his personal life. Herbert’s message in his poem is keeping your faith strong throughout all of the good and bad times in your life. In conclusion; the themes of the viewpoint on life and maintaining a good relationship with God, pleasant imagery, joyful and uplifting tone, interesting vocabulary, and literary criticism for George Herbert’s The Flower.

Works Cited

  1. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “On the Poetry of George Herbert.” John Donne and the Metaphysical Poets, Chelsea House, 2008. Bloom's Literature, online.infobase.com/Auth/Index?aid=104863&itemid=WE54&articleId=21247. Accessed 2 Oct. 2019.
  2. Fish, Stanley Eugene. “Letting Go: The Dialectic of the Self in Herbert's Poetry.” John Donne & the 17th-Century Poets, Original Edition, Chelsea House, 2017. Bloom's Literature, online.infobase.com/Auth/Index?aid=104863&itemid=WE54&articleId=504486. Accessed 25 Sept. 2019.
  3. Hager, Alan. “Herbert, George.” Encyclopedia of British Writers, 16th and 17th Centuries,
  4. Facts On File, 2005. Bloom's Literature, online.infobase.com/Auth/Index?aid=104863&itemid=WE54&articleId=32203. Accessed 21 Sept. 2019.
  5. Herbert, George. “The Flower”, English Literature, Tenth Edition, edited by Stephen Greenblatt, Volume B, 2018. pp. 1271-1273
  6. Whitaker, Thomas R. “Herrick and the Fruits of the Garden.” John Donne & the 17th-Century Poets, Original Edition, Chelsea House, 2017. Bloom's Literature, online.infobase.com/Auth/Index?aid=104863&itemid=WE54&articleId=504569. Accessed 28 Sept. 2019.
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Keeping Your Faith Strong In George Herbert’s Poem The Flower. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 19, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/keeping-your-faith-strong-in-george-herberts-poem-the-flower/
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