George Herbert's poetry often expresses its willingness not to be. Some poems indict the propriety of writing any poetry at all,writing any words which might impinge on the divine Word; other poems worry that they might lead readers astray through improper teaching or improper attitudes; and still others are suspicious of their own existence, wondering to what extent they are poetic monuments to the self rather than to God. At the same time the poems continue to exist. They stand on the page vehemently pointing away from themselves, a compelling gesture which finally serves to draw our attention more fully to them.
The manner in which critics approach this problem usually reveals their approach to Herbert, and indeed, to literature. "Old" historicism has emphasized the sanction for Herbert's art inherent in the Christian humanist tradition; formalist, new critical readings of Herbert insist that Herbert's devaluations of poetry are artificial--compliments to the divine poet; the reader-response approach of Stanley Fish in particular solves the problem by asserting that Herbert's whole poetic endeavor is meant to be subsumed in the divine poet's endeavor as Herbert "lets go" of the poem; poststructuralist solutions to this problem center on the impossibility of distinguishing in any finally meaningful way between selves, texts, and audiences; recent historical, contextual criticism by Richard Strier is the first to take at face value Herbert's devaluations of his poetry. Strier places Herbert in the mainstream of Lutheran/Calvinist theology, and argues that this theology is the basis of Herbert's suspicion of any human activity that might be construed as meaning to establish personal merit.
This essay proposes another solution to the problem: Herbert continues to produce poetry of which he is highly suspicious, poetry whose worth he deeply distrusts, because he must. His view of his vocation as expressed in his works says that one must be true to one's calling "under pain of death," even when, perhaps especially when, that calling is fraught with the dangers of presumptuously rewriting the Word which has been revealed and recorded once and for all time, and with the dangers of misleading others, seeming to claim spiritual merit for oneself, or indulging in simple self-aggrandizement. Further, Herbert's bodying forth in poetry this struggle with his calling is itself an important part of that calling as he instructs his extended congregation of readers in the difficulties of shouldering one's cross and getting on with one's vocation.
The Temple is the work of a person deeply concerned, almost obsessed, with his role as divine poet. The poems habitually wonder to what extent they are succeeding in praising God. "Praise" (III) charts the vicissitudes of the Christian's emotional life as the speaker feels that his "busie heart" is sometimes empowered by God, sometimes not, as he tries to live his life in an attitude of praise. Whereas the second stanza of "Praise" (III) is assured in its proclamation of the efficacy of the Holy Spirit as an inspiration for the speaker, who is a poet, stanza three makes it clear that the speaker/poet's work is in part a constant struggle to be sure the Holy Spirit is at work in the poetry. Both stanzas follow:
When thou dost favor any action,
It runnes, it flies;
All things concurre to give it a perfection.
That which had but two legs before,
When thou dost blesse, hath twelve: one wheel doth rise
To twentie then, or more.
But when thou dost on businesse blow,
It hangs, it clogs:
Not all the teams of Albion in a row
Can hale or draw it out off doore.
Legs are but stumps, and Pharaohs wheels but logs,
And struggling hinders more.
The identification of the inspiring force as the Holy Spirit is signalled by the "blow" of the third stanza; the Holy Spirit, identified traditionally as the wind which "bloweth where it listeth," has gone off on "businesse," leaving the heart to straggle alone futilely. An alternate reading of "when thou dost on businesse blow" is, when you [God] oppose my business, or my "busyness," recalling the speaker's contempt in "Jordan" (II) for his early poetry's frantic concern for "quaint words," "trim invention," and "curling with metaphors a plain intention:" (II.3-4). In the above stanzas the speaker indicts as uninspired any poetry whose creation was somehow "hung" or "clogged" or that was won through "struggling." We suspect that not much of Herbert's work was created without any feeling of struggle, but was instead borne along on two legs instead of twelve. The feeling we get from the whole of The Temple is that Herbert's creative process was much more often the struggle pictured in stanza three than the effortless production of praise described in the second stanza.
Herbert's equivocal feelings about the inspiration of his work are manifest when the poet asks God to "fix" his bad poetry (e.g., "Denial" 1. 30), and when the poems picture God intervening to advise altering the poetry radically (e.g., "Jordan" [II], 11. 16-18). Herbert calls into question his success as a poet each time he cries out that his poetry needs to be mended. For example, in "Providence" Herbert is in the midst of marvelling at how well God has provided that which is necessary for all his creation. But the speaker as a poet seems to be an exception to God's providence; he feels he lacks skill in praising God: " . . . O that thy care / Would show a root, that gives expressions!" (11.75-76) The speaker's call for an herb to mend his poetry is couched in the terms of accusation. "Thy care," God's providence, that has even given "curious vertues" to both "herbs and stones" has not extended to the divine poet.
Perhaps more troubling than Herbert's feeling that the Holy Spirit only occasionally is at work in his verse is the poet's often expressed suspicion that his motives in writing divine poetry are impure. Wilbur Sanders, a fierce detractor of Herbert's merit as a poet, characterizes the poetry in just the way that Herbert must have feared it might be viewed: "poetical exhibitionism disguised thinly as piety"; "an effort of self-abasement that ends in a new and pernicious form of self-aggrandizement, a type of poetic exhibitionism before an indulgent and pious audience" (4-5). The problem Sanders points to for Herbert is a real one. Herbert's poetry demonstrates his awareness of the danger that his works may direct attention to himself rather than to God, and the poetry shows Herbert's fear that his poetry is driven by an urge to self-aggrandizement.
In "The Altar," for example, Stein identifies a trait of "suspicion . . . which anticipates the signs of idol worship and exposes the ingenious variety of techniques devised to advance the human interest in the name of God" (20). Herbert might be especially suspicious of his own motivation in writing an ornate and meticulously crafted poem like "The Altar," which threatens, despite its theme, to become as much a monument to self as to God. The poem's main point is that the altar that matters to God is the broken and contrite heart of the speaker, not a splendidly built monument on which sacrifices are made. The final lines of the poem say emphatically that not only is the new covenant altar God's work and not human work since the new altar is "a heart . . . / Whose parts are as thy hand did frame" (11. 2-3), but also that the sacrifice which sanctifies that altar is God's: "O let thy blessed S A C R I F I C E be mine, / And sanctifie this A L T A R to be thine." But yet the very real problem for the poet remains. Has the well-crafted offering which is the poem itself--"The Altar" is typographically shaped as an altar--served to deepen through irony the poem's message that both altar and sacrifice are God's work and not humankind's? Or has this beautifully built poem subverted its purpose by standing as a monument to human craft? As Stanley Fish says, "The first thing the poem does, even before we take in any of its words, is call attention to itself . . . [to] the skill and ingenuity of the maker" (207). Herbert's suspicion is directed at least partially at himself as he erects such a splendidly built altar to God.
Herbert is quite conscious that the priestly role he necessarily assumes in his didactic poetry has the potential to focus an audience on the priest/poet rather than God. "The Windows" is the strongest statement of the correct priestly stance--the correct stance also for the divine poet. The speaker initially expresses horror at his presumption in being a "brittle, crazie glasse" which may be the main point of interest for the parishioners instead of the light meant to flow through that window. Although the matter has been resolved by poem's end by the invocation of a satisfactory theological explanation of the priest's function, the human problem remains. "The Windows" expresses a theological formula that a highly self-conscious priest such as Herbert must have repeated daily as a sort of incantation to ward off the felt presumption of being the very vessel of God's word: when divine light shines through the priest, "Thou [God] dost anneal in glasse thy storie, / Making thy life to shine within / The holy Preachers . . . " (11. 6-8). Even so, the peril of the situation, for both the priest and his congregation, is kept in view throughout the poem; perhaps we can even see this emphasis in Herbert's choice of "glasse" to describe the priest. The danger is not merely that the window, the priest, may be "crazie" and so by his imperfections distort the truth meant to shine through him. The priest may also turn out to be a "glasse" mirroring the congregation. Far from being an example to the congregation of a holy life, the priest may be only a distorted ("crazie") reflection of the congregation's collective faults. The speaker's cry is for God to transform priests who are "brittle, crazie" glasses, perhaps opaque mirrors, into windows in which God's "life" can be seen (1.7).
Similarly, the main concern of the speaker of "Aaron" is not to claim due recognition as a priestly descendant of Aaron, but rather to signal his consciousness of the danger of pride in his position:
Profaneness in my head,
Defects and darknesse in my breast,
A noise of passions ringing me for dead
Unto a place where is no rest:
Poore priest thus am I drest.
Like "The Windows" and "Aaron" "The Priesthood" is centrally
concerned to point out the deficiencies of the human priest
while extolling the sufficiency of Christ:
Onely, since God doth often vessels make
Of lowly matter for high uses meet,
I throw me at his feet.
There will I lie, untill my Master seek
For some mean stuffe whereon to show his skill:
Then is my time. . . .
But the speaker/priest can never really succeed in pointing away from himself to God. The psychological emphasis of "Then is my time," is on "my," whether intended or not. We are left with the picture of a man dressed in divine array, head down in humility, pointing dramatically away from himself. But, as the poem's audience, we do not turn our eyes in the direction the speaker is pointing, at least not for long. Our view returns to the portrait of the human priest and his dramatic gesture.
Herbert's poems even address the problem of whether any poetry, any words other than God's, have a right to exist as divine poetry. Fish's idea that Herbert wants his own authorship to disappear into the divine authorship finds strong support in "Providence":
O Sacred Providence, who from end to end
Strongly and sweetly movest, shall I write,
And not of thee, through whom my fingers bend
To hold my quill? shall they not do thee right?
God bends the poet's fingers making him truly "Secretarie of thy praise" (1. 8). But the speaker pulls back from this complete giving over of the poem's author-ship in lines 23-24: " . . . but the hand you stretch, / Is mine to write, as it is yours to raise." Here we are in the realm of "The Holdfast"--all things are more ours by being His. The most representative stance of Herbert's speakers does not accord with Fish's depiction of Herbert striving for dissolution into the divine. These speaker/poets say that they cannot evaluate the success of the poetry; for example, "If thou shalt give me wit, it shall appeare, / If thou hast giv'n it me, 'tis here" ("Thanksgiving" 11. 43-44). Here the speaker cannot tell to what extent God has inspired or is at the moment inspiring his work. Since the speaker of "The Thanksgiving" has not yet become paralyzed in his second and final contemplation of what he will do to repay Christ for His passion, we can identify the speaker as lacking inspired knowledge, but the poem Herbert is writing seems particularly inspired in its depiction of the failed inspiration of the speaker. This important theme in Herbert's poetry--the status of the poetic self in relation to the arch-poet, God as Holy Spirit--makes us doubt that, as Fish urges, erasure of the self is the poetry's goal. It makes more sense to see the rehearsals of this problem for the divine poet as instruction--as a constant check on any presumption on the poet's part, and as instruction for the poet's audience on how difficult but essential it is for human endeavor to be always careful that it point to God rather than to the self.
Strier's solution of Herbert's dilemma of the skilled artist disclaiming art is more radical than Fish's. Strier argues that the centers of Herbert's poems are often the "naked," "disjunctive," and "spontaneous" groans and cries which occur when the poet has "given over" the poem. Such cries include "My Lord!" ("The Collar"), "Thou art still my God" ("The Forerunners"), and "My joy, my life, my crown" ("A true Hymn"). Strier finds Herbert reaching the utmost expression possible for human art when Herbert "has given over 'the poem'" as in the final lines of "Grief" (196-197) when the speaker throws up his hands and cries out in desperation:
Verses, ye are too free a thing, too wise
For my rough sorrows: cease, be dumbe and mute,
Give up your feet and running to mine eyes,
And keep your measures for some lovers lute,
Whose grief allows him musick and a ryme:
For mine excludes both measure, tune, and time.
Alas, my God!
Moments like this are among the most dramatic in Herbert's poetry. What better way to drive the point of "Grief" to a height of dramatic tension than to picture the speaker/poet, after abusing his craft as insufficient and superficial, throwing down his pen and giving up his vocation? But, of course, the poet cannot have actually thrown down his pen or we would not have the poetic record of his final utterance. Just so, the important subtlety of "A true Hymne" is that the poem's embedded "poem" which is identified as a true hymn, the cry "My joy, my life, my crown," may only be sung within the context of the equally "true" hymn which is the entire poem. However much the poems themselves may insist that the real poem consists in these "disjunctive cries," or in "giving over" the poem in a final emotional flourish, these acts are dependent on the complete poetic action for their rhetorical force.
And there is an audience for which these rhetorical strategies are employed the human audience of Christian readers. In The Temple Herbert is writing for an audience which is Christian ("Dotage" and "The Invitation" are exceptions), and this audience needs not only unadorned exclamations such as "My joy, my life, my crown" but also needs the whole poem "A true Hymne" for its edification. This audience needs to hear Herbert the poet making a poem out of an idea that Herbert the theologian endorses: "Although the verse be somewhat scant," it has a right to exist because "God doth supplie the want" ("A true Hymne," 11. 17-18). It is this hymn which is uniquely suited as a recognizably human expression to affect the other two parts of Herbert's audience, the reader and Herbert himself.
To bolster my assertion that Herbert's poetry addresses a human audience let me briefly summarize the facts which lead me to think that Herbert intended the poems of The Temple to be published. Walton's account of Herbert's death-bed revelation of the manuscript of The Temple is the biographical basis for the long accepted picture of the poems' being private prayers to God, not intended for publication. But even if we accept Walton's story, we tend to miss the fact that a dying Herbert is making sure a hidden manuscript comes to light.
Moreover, Herbert was well known in his lifetime as a poet; he had already published the Musae Responsoriae, and was praised by Bacon in the dedication to Herbert of the Translation of Certaine Psalmes into English Verse (1625) as a "most fit" embodiment of the convergence of "divinity and poesy" (121). And, if we accept Amy Charles' description of Herbert's musical evenings in Salisbury, Herbert was known as a poet in his Bemerton days as he played musical settings of some of his poems with his small weekly consort (166). Only the notoriously unreliable source Walton suggests that the poems of The Temple were not in circulation.
Strier points out that The Temple was the only collection in English to that time in which nearly each poem had a title clearly given by the poet. The fact that each title is precise, and that all are provocative of meanings in the poem, suggests that Herbert anticipated a human audience. As Janis Lull says, close study of Herbert's titles and revisions of his titles (as well as his texts) shows "how profoundly he expected his readers to contemplate the finished poems" (86).
We should remember, too, that The Temple was not Herbert's only work left unpublished at the time of his death: Herbert's translation of Cornaro's treatise on temperance was unpublished but in circulation; and The Country Parson, a manual of spiritual instruction clearly intended to reach a wide audience, had not been published--and no one suggests that Herbert wanted to keep this manuscript private. (So, again, if we were to accept Walton's account of Herbert's death-bed conversation with Mr. Duncon, we would see Herbert's concern for the future of The Temple with no mention of The Country Parson.)
The often-cited final couplet of the "Dedication" of The Temple clearly anticipates a human audience: "Turn their eyes hither, who shall make a gain: / Theirs, who shall hurt themselves or me, refrain." Another early announcement of authorial intention, in "The Church-porch," pictures Herbert's poems as subtle sermons especially able to teach those unreached by preaching:
Hearken unto a Verser, who may chance
Ryme thee to good, and make a bait of pleasure.
A verse may finde him, who a sermon flies,
And turn delight into a sacrifice.
My conclusion is that Herbert wanted his poetry, over which he had labored so long, which he had revised so much, which he had very carefully recopied, which was the product of a clear vocation, and which itself announces its intention to speak didactically to a wide human audience, even non-Christians in some poems, to survive him.
Herbert so often speaks of the problematic, even presumptuous and dangerous nature of poetry-making that we often neglect those themes and passages which suggest his understanding of the divine sanction for his art. Keeping a human audience in mind is crucial to understanding Herbert's talk of his poems as sacrifices ("Perirrhanterium," 11. 5-6), when much of the poetry is concerned to deny the importance of any human action of sacrifice for God. Herbert's description of his poems as sacrifices should be understood in the light of Hebrews 13. 15-16:
. . . let vs offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually,
that is, the fruit of our lippes, giuing thankes to his Name.
But to doe good, and to communicate forget not, for with such
sacrifices God is well pleased.
The poems are sacrificial offerings, praising God as prescribed in verse 15, and the poems are also an edifying communication the word is koinonia, i.e., "fellowship," "communion"--with the individuals who are the church, the kind of sacrifice demanded in verse 16.
"Judgment" seems to denigrate poetry, but actually exists to point to two acceptable literary offerings In this poem the speaker imagines people's fright at being asked by God at the judgment day for their "peculiar book" (1.5). For Herbert, being asked for his "peculiar book," the record of his earthly life, would include being asked for his peculiar book The Temple When the speaker of "Judgment" is asked for his book he resolves
. . . to decline,
And thrust a Testament into thy hand:
Let that be scann'd.
There thou shalt finde my faults are thine.
Again we have a seemingly paradoxical situation: Herbert is disclaiming his "peculiar book" which includes that peculiar book The Temple which is being written even as it begs that the Bible alone be imputed to the speaker. The syntax of the previous sentence reveals the complexity of the problem, and the correct theological formulation offered by the poem, "sola gratia," cannot erase the human quandary that is the central matter of "Judgment." Some of Herbert's anxieties throughout his work are his wondering about the propriety of his role as divine poet, the worth of his poetic vocation, and his effectuality as a poet in directing others along the right path. Herbert may be correct according to reformed orthodoxy in asserting at the end of "Judgment" that these anxieties should not exist since human activity is of no account, but the fact that "Judgment" does exist as a part of Herbert's peculiar book is testimony to the fact that Herbert has finally judged his vocation to be important and somehow necessary. The edification and instruction for the human component of Herbert's audience is accomplished in seeing the drama of the poet wrestling publicly with the fact that the human book of human success and failure, which includes Herbert's own book of poetry, will be erased ultimately by the divine book.
In "Employment" (II) the work of the divine poet is sanctioned, but the dangers attending this vocation are emphasized. Just as in "Providence" where the divine poet has wished for some herb that will insure the propriety, even the existence of his "expressions," so in "Employment" (II) the speaker/poet wishes for release from the difficulties of his calling:
Oh that I were an Orenge-tree,
That busie plant!
Then should I ever laden be,
And never want
Some fruit for him that dressed me.
Herbert's speaker/poets finally shoulder the burden of their vocations and praise God, with no erasure of the poetic self. "Christmas" ends with the lines, "His beams shall cheer my breast, and both so twine, / Till ev'n his beams sing, and my music shine." Divine inspiration and human art are twined. God's beams sing with human voice, and human music shines with divine truth. In all this, the beams of light remain God's and the music remains the speaker's--God may make my music shine, but despite the theological dangers, it is my music still.
"The Banquet's" conclusion pictures the speaker who is a poet expressing his conviction that he is absolutely compelled by divine calling to create poetry. I believe that this concluding stanza represents Herbert's attitude toward his poetic calling:
Let the wonder of his pitie
Be my dittie,
And take up my lines and life:
Hearken under pain of death,
Hands and breath;
Strive in this, and love the strife.
The speaker feels himself under pain of death if he neglects his calling--the exploration, in "lines," of God's grace toward humankind. This calling is a struggle, and the speaker knows that he must learn to "love the strife." In picturing this struggle throughout the whole of The Temple Herbert has also instructed his human readers in the struggle toward vocation. It is Herbert's divinely imposed obligation to this human audience which decides Herbert's struggle for his poetry, no matter how much he questions the propriety of writing divine poetry, doubts his skill as a poet, or doubts the legitimacy of his poetry's inspiration. Making instructive, edifying, dramatic poems out of struggles with his doubts about his poetry becomes a way to both fulfill his didactic and pastoral obligation, and to be honest with himself as he comes to terms with his talent, his passion, and his craft.
Important works which locate Herbert in the tradition of the literature of praise are Rosemund Tuve, Coburn Freer, Barbara Lewalski, and Chana Bloch.
I'm thinking here especially of pages 12-20 in Arnold Stein's George Herbert's Lyrics.
See Stanley Fish's Self-Consuming Artifacts: The Experience of Seventeenth-Century Literature. Fish finds a different way for Herbert's poems to exist--as catechistical instruments--in The Living Temple: George Herbert and Catechising.
See Jonathan Goldberg's chapter on Herbert in Voice Terminal Echo: Postmodernism and English Renaissance Texts.
Strier has even said (in a 1985 lecture in honor of Arnold Stein) that had The Temple never been published, Herbert would not have minded.
Strier insists that the ingenuity of Herbert's poetry often fills Herbert with self-contempt. In "Confession," "Miserie," "Sinne's Round," and "Jordan" (II), this self-contempt is signalled by the "brilliance of phrasing" (39). Strier also argues that Herbert is highly suspicious of all poetry, not just witty secular poetry. He points to lines 23-24 of "Confession" for support:
" . . . but fiction / Doth give a hold and handle to affliction."
For Strier these lines are the "culmination of the associations between human art, craft, or ingenuity and evading, lying or constructing pretenses" (32).
- 7) The F. E. Hutchinson 1945 edition of The Works of George Herbert is the edition used throughout my essay.
- 8) The author of the poems is, correctly, God, and Herbert is absolved of pride and pretension: "the claims of other entities to a separate existence, including the claims of the speakers and readers of these poems, must be relinquished"; the poems become "quite literally God's word," according to Fish, 78- 79).
- 9) Conversation, Fall, 1986.
- 10) Recent criticism has overwhelmingly endorsed the idea that Herbert's poetry was intended to instruct and edify a human audience--to the extent that Helen Vendler is nearly alone in her call for The Temple to be read as strictly private property (5). Led by Joseph Summers' declaration in 1954 that The Temple is "the symbolic record, written by a poet, of a 'typical' Christian life within the church," and Heather Asals' assertion in 1969 that "the experiences related in 'The Church' are the experience of all its members throughout all time" (526), the criticism of the last decade especially has seen Herbert's poetry operating rhetorically and didactically. Saad El-Gabalaway (1970) finds no difference of intention between Herbert's role as poet and as priest (38-48). Fish (1974) pictures for us Herbert the catechist in "Catechizing the Reader: Herbert's Socratean Rhetoric," and Sharon Cadman Seelig (1981) says The Temple is a "reenactment of [Herbert's 'many spiritual conflicts'] within the soul of the reader" (11); Kenneth Alan Hovey (1982) argues that the drama of The Temple has a central character, The Christian 1-14; Stephenie Yearwood advances a theory explaining the structure of The Temple based on her conviction that "the primary intent [of the work] is rhetorical" (144); Claude J. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth, and Sidney Gottlieb (1980,'84, '85) insist that some of Herbert's poems address the controversies of the day in "Herbert, Vaughan, and Public Concerns in Private Modes" (1-21) and "The Politics of The Temple: 'The British Church' and 'The Familie'" (1-15); Gottlieb, in "Herbert's Case of 'Conscience'" (109-26); Diana Benet (1984) calls the speaker of Herbert's poems "The Christian," saying that "Herbert's intent to instruct his readers is constant" (35); Chana Bloch (1985) argues that Herbert's poetry is at once necessarily "Expressive and didactic, a picture of his own spiritual conflicts offered up as a help to dejected poor souls" (173); John Bienz (1986) finds a solution to the problem of Herbert's attitudes toward liturgical practices and the role of images in worship by arguing that "for Herbert the problem posed by images and ceremonial to a biblical faith was less a doctrinal than a pedagogical or a rhetorical problem, and his solution was a rhetorical one" (88); And Janis Lull (1987) asserts that a study of Herbert's revisions makes clear that Herbert had a contemporary audience in view.
- 11) This citation appears in a 1611 translation of the Bible.
PHOTO (BLACK & WHITE): Church Interior
Asals, Heather. "The Voice of George Herbert's 'The Church.'" ELH 36 (1969).
Bacon, Francis. The Works of Francis Bacon. Ed. James Spedding et at. Vol. XIV. Boston: 1861.
Block, Chana. Spelling the Word: George Herbert and the Bible. Berkeley: U of California P, 1985.
Charles, Amy M. A Life of George Herbert. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1977.
El-Gabalaway, Saad. "George Herbert's Affinities with the Homiletical Mode." Humanities Association Bulletin 21 (1970): 38-48.
Fish, Stanley. The Living Temple: George Herbert and Catechizing. Berkeley: U of California P, 1978.
-----. Self-Consuming Artifacts: The Experience of Seventeenth-Century Literature. Berkeley: U of California P, 1972.
-----. "Letting Go: The Reader in Herbert's Poetry." ELH 37 (1970): 78-79.
-----. "Catechizing the Reader: Herbert's Socratean Rhetoric." In The Rhetoric of the Renaissance. Eds. Thomas O. Sloan and Raymond B. Waddington. Berkeley: U of California P, 1974.
Freer, Coburn, Music for a King: George Herbert's Style and the Metrical Psalms. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1972.
Goldberg, Jonathan. In Voice Terminal Echo: Postmodernism and English Renaissance Texts. New York: Methuen, 1986.
Gottlieb, Sidney. "Herbert's Case of 'Conscience.'" Studies in English Literature 25 (1985): 109-26.
Herbert, George. The Works of George Herbert. Ed. F. E. Hutchinson. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1941; rpt., corr., 1945.
Holy Bible, Conteyning the Old Testament and the New: Newly Translated . . . London: Robert Baker, 1611.
Hovey, Kenneth Alan. "Church History in 'The Church.'" George Herbert Journal 6 (1982): 1-14.
Lewalski, Barbara. Protestant Poetics and the Seventeenth-Century Lyric. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 1979.
Lull, Janis. "Expanding 'The Poem Itself': Reading George Herbert's Revisions." Studies in English Literature 27 (1987).
Sanders, Wilbur. "'Childhood is Health': The Divine Poetry of George Herbert." Melbourne Critical Review 5 (1962): 4-5.
Seelig, Sharon Cadman. The Shadow of Eternity: Belief and Structure in Herbert, Vaughan, and Traherne. Lexington, Ky: UP of Kentucky, 1981.
Stein, George. George Herbert's Lyrics. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1968.
Strier, Richard. Love Known: Theology and Experience in George Herbert's Poetry. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1983.
-----. Lecture in honor of Arnold Stein. Champaign-Urbana: U of Illinois, Oct. 29, 1985.
Summers, Claude J. George Herbert: His Religion and Art. London: Chatto and Windus, 1954.
Summers, Claude J., and Ted-Larry Pebworth. "Herbert, Vaughan, and Public Concerns in Private Modes." George Herbert Journal 3 (1979-80): 1-21.
-----. "The Politics of The Temple: 'The British Church' and 'The Familie.'" George Herbert Journal 8 (1984): 1-15.
Tuve, Rosemund. A Reading of George Herbert. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1952.
Vendler, Helen. The Poetry of George Herbert. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1975.
By Bruce A. Johnson
An Assistant Professor of English at James Madison University, Bruce A. Johnson holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. His publications on Herbert have appeared in the George Herbert Journal and Christianity and Literature." 'To Love the Stife': George Herbert's Straggle for His Poetry," was presented to the South Atlantic Modern Language Association on Nov. 9, 1988.