British and Irish Literature George Herbert
by
Chauncey Wood
  • LAST REVIEWED: 12 December 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 20 September 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846719-0077

Introduction

A few months after George Herbert’s death in 1633 his friend Nicholas Ferrar took a manuscript of his English poems to the Cambridge University Press, where they were published as The Temple. The book never went out of print during the remainder of the century, and versions of it continued almost without interruption up to the present day. In 2007, some three hundred seventy-four years after the first edition, Cambridge University Press brought out a new edition of The Temple along with Herbert’s other English poems. While the first edition was a small, modest book, interest in Herbert, both scholarly and general, has increased enormously, and this later edition, by Helen Wilcox, extends over more than seven hundred pages with text and apparatus. Herbert’s prose work, The Country Parson (sometimes called A Priest to the Temple), has also enjoyed success and is now included with several popular editions of the poems. The major modern edition of Herbert’s entire works, including Latin poems, letters, his will, and more, is by Canon F. E. Hutchinson and was first published in 1941. Herbert’s life has also attracted attention, and there have been three biographies of him published in the past sixty years, as well as a deeper study in the Literary Lives series. In addition, there is a book about the entire Herbert family. Scholarly interest in Herbert has grown substantially since the 1950s. More than forty books on Herbert have appeared in that time, and chapters on Herbert have appeared in a great many books on poetry in the early modern period. In 1977 the George Herbert Journal began publication, and it continues to the present day. Regular academic conferences devoted solely to Herbert began in 2007 and are now held on a three-year cycle—the next scheduled for 2014. That the priest of a rural parish, whose English poetry was circulated but not published in his lifetime, should make such a mark is astonishing in one way but understandable in another. His devotional poetry is technically brilliant and emotionally powerful—clear on first reading, yet dense enough to draw the reader back for further contemplation. His prose treatise on The Country Parson has forceful prose, practical advice, and conveys a strong sense of commitment to his purpose. Simply put, Herbert was a great writer, and great writers last.

General Overviews

Because Herbert was primarily a devotional poet, all general books about him offer some consideration of his religion, which is inseparable from his poetry. By the same token, a religious poet has led a religious life, so discussions of Herbert’s life are regularly a feature of these books. Books that concentrate on his religion, or that foreground his religion for an approach to his poetry, are treated in a different section. Because of the general sameness of approach to Herbert, these general books are divided chronologically; no other division will work. Note that several titles in this section that use religious language in their subtitles are nevertheless included here because they are judged to be general approaches.

1950s–1960s

Tuve 1952 opposes “new criticism” and puts Herbert back into his historical context. Summers 1954 remains one of the best starting places for the study of Herbert. Bottrall 1954 is a descriptive overview of Herbert’s life and work. Rickey 1966 is valuable for classical backgrounds, and Stein 1968 gives sensitive readings of many of the poems.

  • Bottrall, Margaret. George Herbert. London: Murray, 1954.

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    Provides a clear overview of Herbert’s life and poetry but does not engage closely with either.

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    • Rickey, Mary Ellen. Utmost Art: Complexity in the Verse of George Herbert. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1966.

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      Contains a helpful chapter on Herbert and classical materials. Successive chapters deal rather briefly with many poems in The Temple.

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      • Stein, Arnold S. George Herbert’s Lyrics. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1968.

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        Close, careful, and illuminating readings of many of Herbert’s poems. There is also a chapter on Herbert’s metrics and another on his style and form. The readings are valuable for readers on all levels.

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        • Summers, Joseph H. George Herbert: His Religion and Art. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1954.

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          Places Herbert in his own time and in modern critical history. Deals clearly and succinctly with the major religious issues of the day. From this background the author discusses most of the poems in The Temple. An excellent starting place for learning about Herbert.

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          • Tuve, Rosemond. A Reading of George Herbert. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952.

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            This book contains extended explications of Herbert’s “The Sacrifice” and “Jordan” (I) as well as shorter examinations of other poems. The author counters those who read the text alone by putting Herbert’s poems back into their historical context. Recommended for all readers.

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            1970s–1980s

            Vendler 1975 is the best for readings that arise from the text rather than the context. Harmon 1982 reviews many earlier commentators on the poems and analyzes some poems. Strier 1983 argues from a theological base, but most of the book is given over to excellent close readings of Herbert’s poems. Benet 1984 is a good overview of the life and the poetry. Stewart 1986, part of the Twayne’s Author series, gives useful introductory information. Singleton 1987 explores the Renaissance concept of the courtier and reads the poems accordingly. Ryley 1987, first written in 1715, is an approach far closer to Herbert’s own time than to our own.

            • Benet, Diana. Secretary of Praise: The Poetic Vocation of George Herbert. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1984.

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              This work is a useful and accessible overview of Herbert’s life and poetry. It includes a short bibliography. A helpful basic book.

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              • Harmon, Barbara Leah. Costly Monuments: Representations of the Self in George Herbert’s Poetry. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982.

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                Studies the relationship between critical practice and critical belief in writings on Herbert. Many well-known commentators are discussed. Several of Herbert’s poems receive extended, thoughtful analysis. For advanced students.

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                • Ryley, George. George Ryley, Mr. Herbert’s Temple and Church Militant Explained and Improved (Bodleian MS Rawl. D. 199). Edited by Maureen Boyd and Cedric C. Brown. New York: Garland, 1987.

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                  Although Ryley’s commentary was written more than eighty years after Herbert’s death, he writes from a mindset closer to Herbert’s than any modern criticism could be. His commentary draws out biblical origins and moral and theological observations, and does so deftly. This work is often helpful in surprising ways. First written in 1715.

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                  • Singleton, Marion White. God’s Courtier: Configuring a Different Grace in George Herbert’s Temple. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

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                    The author discusses the Renaissance concept of the courtier and uses this idea to examine the poetry as a straightforward spiritual autobiography.

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                    • Stewart, Stanley. George Herbert. Boston: Twayne, 1986.

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                      This book is intended as an introduction and overview. There is a short review of Herbert’s life and the “lives” written about him as well as chapters on his religious life. Includes brief treatments of numerous poems, a chapter on the “school” of Herbert, and a bibliography.

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                      • Strier, Richard. Love Known: Theology and Experience in George Herbert’s Poetry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

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                        Argues that the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith was central both to Herbert’s poetry and his theology. The author gives detailed and closely reasoned analyses of most of Herbert’s poetry to explore his thesis. There is a substantial bibliography. Not a quick read, but a rewarding one. Most helpful for advanced students.

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                        • Vendler, Helen H. The Poetry of George Herbert. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1975.

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                          The author’s goal is to read a large number of Herbert’s poems in their complexity. Unlike many other critics, the author does not delve deeply into Herbert’s life or religion but relies almost entirely on the texts for her readings. Within that framework the readings are very consistent. Will be appreciated more by advanced students.

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                          1990s–Present

                          Lull 1990 instructively compares early and later versions of the poems. Schoenfeldt 1991 explores the manners of the time and their contribution to the poetry. Toliver 1993 gives helpful readings of many poems. White 1994 is intended for those starting to read Herbert. Ray 1995 is intended as a companion but the organization is unhelpful. Malcolmson 1999 uses the doctrine of vocation to illuminate Herbert’s poems. Judge 2004 offers many close readings of the poetry.

                          • Judge, Jeannie Sergent. Two Natures Met: George Herbert and the Incarnation. New York: Peter Lang, 2004.

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                            Concentrating on just one theological concern might seem very confining, but the author uses this perspective to illuminate many of Herbert’s poems. Despite its stated theological emphasis, the book is generally informative. Includes a bibliography.

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                            • Lull, Janis. The Poem in Time: Reading George Herbert’s Revisions of The Church. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1990.

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                              This book studies most of the lyrics that occur in both the early manuscript, called W, and the later one, called B, which is close to the printed version. There are thoughtful and illuminating readings of many poems. Includes a small bibliography. Advanced students will benefit most from this work.

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                              • Malcolmson, Cristina. Heart-Work: George Herbert and the Protestant Ethic. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999.

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                                The author argues for the importance of the Protestant doctrine of vocation for Herbert. The two versions of The Temple and other topics are studied with reference to many of Herbert’s poems and other writings. Includes a substantial bibliography. Best suited for advanced students.

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                                • Ray, Robert H. A George Herbert Companion. New York: Garland, 1995.

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                                  This book has an odd structure; there is a fairly extensive bibliography and a “Herbert Dictionary,” which includes a wide assortment of entries including poems by Herbert, people of the time, difficult words, famous houses, and so on. The book is somewhat useful nevertheless.

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                                  • Schoenfeldt, Michael C. Prayer and Power: George Herbert and Renaissance Courtship. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.

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                                    This original and illuminating approach to Herbert looks at forms of manners in 17th-century society and examines how these play out in his writings. This author finds Herbert mingling sacred and secular concerns throughout his life. Closely argued and cleverly expressed, this book is best suited for advanced students.

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                                    • Toliver, Harold. George Herbert’s Christian Narrative. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993.

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                                      Provides thoughtful readings of many of Herbert’s poems. The readings are informed by a wide understanding of Protestant views in Herbert’s time. Includes a substantial bibliography. While theologically based, the book is quite accessible.

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                                      • White, James Boyd. “This Book of Starres”: Learning to Read George Herbert. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994.

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                                        This very chatty book examines many of Herbert’s poems much the way they might be treated in an introductory class. It may prove helpful to beginning students. There is a short, annotated bibliography in the “Further Notes” section.

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                                        Bibliographies

                                        Allison 1973 offers a bibliography of early editions. Roberts 1988 has a very good standard bibliography, but it is very dated. Wilcox 2007 includes a vast bibliography that is recent.

                                        • Allison, A. F. “George Herbert, 1593–1633.” In Four Metaphysical Poets: George Herbert, Richard Crashaw, Henry Vaughan, [and] Andrew Marvell; A Bibliographical Catalogue of the Early Editions of their Poetry and Prose to the End of the Seventeenth Century. By A. F. Allison, 49–70. Folkestone, UK: Dawsons of Pall Mall, 1973.

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                                          This slender volume does just what its title says it will do. It will prove very helpful to advanced students of Herbert’s bibliography.

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                                          • Roberts, John R. George Herbert: An Annotated Bibliography of Modern Criticism. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1988.

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                                            This bibliography is arranged by year of publication. It contains an author index and a subject index. The annotations are thorough and detailed. Regrettably, it is now quite dated.

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                                            • Wilcox, Helen, ed. “Bibliography.” In The English Poems of George Herbert. Edited by Helen Wilcox, 688–717. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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                                              This major edition contains a splendid bibliography that includes editions of Herbert’s English works, primary texts, and critical studies. It is thirty pages long and contains hundreds of items, both books and articles.

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                                              Concordance

                                              DiCesare and Mignani 1977 provides a very complete concordance of both poetry and prose.

                                              • DiCesare, Mario, and Rigo Mignani, eds. A Concordance to the Complete Writings of George Herbert. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977.

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                                                This concordance includes works in poetry and prose in both English and Latin. It also contains frequency lists in both alphabetical and frequency order for both English and Latin. It is a valuable and very accessible tool.

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                                                Journals

                                                The George Herbert Journal began publication in 1977 and continues to the present day. While concentrating on Herbert, it also includes essays on other 17th-century poets and occasionally devotes an entire issue to one. The George Herbert Journal publishes cumulative indices of articles. The most recent appears in Volume 28 (2004–2005).

                                                Editions

                                                Herbert 1945 is the only edition in print of the entire works. Herbert 1974 provides good notes. Herbert 1995 includes all of Herbert’s English writings in an Everyman edition, while Herbert 2004 is also quite inclusive in the Penguin edition. Wilcox 2007 is compendious, thorough, and rich but is confined to the English poems.

                                                • Herbert, George. The Works of George Herbert. Rev. ed. Edited by F. E. Hutchinson. Oxford: Clarendon, 1945.

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                                                  This is the standard edition of the entirety of Herbert’s writings. It includes not only the English poems but also poems in Latin and Greek, The Country Parson, letters, formal letters in Latin, Herbert’s will, a brief biography, and more.

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                                                  • Herbert, George. The English Poems of George Herbert. Edited by Constantinos A. Patrides. London: Dent, 1974.

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                                                    This useful edition gives a brief but helpful introduction to Herbert and valuable notes to all the poems. Also includes a very good although now quite dated bibliography.

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                                                    • Herbert, George. George Herbert: The Complete English Works. Edited by Ann Pasternak Slater. New York: Knopf, 1995.

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                                                      This readily available edition includes Herbert’s English poems, The Country Parson, letters, and more. In addition to Herbert’s English works, the volume includes Izaak Walton’s Life of Mr. George Herbert (see Walton 2004, cited under Biographies. There are a sketchy introduction, notes to the contents, and indices of first lines and titles of the poems.

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                                                      • Herbert, George. George Herbert: The Complete English Poems. Edited by John Tobin. London: Penguin, 2004.

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                                                        This readily available edition includes not only the English poems but also The Country Parson, a selection of Latin verse, and Izaak Walton’s Life of Mr. George Herbert (see Walton 2004, cited under Biographies). There are extensive notes and a bibliography. Reprinted with a new introduction and corrections from the original 1991 edition.

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                                                        • Wilcox, Helen, ed. The English Poems of George Herbert. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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                                                          For Herbert’s English poems, this is an invaluable volume, although its sheer exhaustiveness may prove overwhelming for some. Each poem has an introduction and detailed annotations with bibliographical references. There are a substantial introduction to Herbert and a superb bibliography of hundreds of entries, including both primary and secondary materials.

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                                                          Data Sources

                                                          At present only one website, GeorgeHerbert.org, is devoted solely to Herbert. Its contents are limited. George Herbert at the much larger literary site Luminarium includes quotes, life, timeline, essays, books, and links.

                                                          Religion

                                                          Herbert’s writings are inseparable from his religion; some critics subordinate his religious beliefs, while others start with it. In this section, books foregrounding Herbert’s religion or the religious beliefs of the time are listed. Doerksen 1997 takes a broad view of the English church, as does Veith 1985. Hodgkins 1993 situates Herbert in the Elizabethan middle way. Bloch 1985 illustrates in detail Herbert’s debt to the Bible, while Wengen-Shute 1981 emphasizes the importance of the Book of Common Prayer.

                                                          • Bloch, Chana. Spelling the Word: George Herbert and the Bible. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

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                                                            This book is invaluable because of its foregrounding of the biblical texts underlying so much of Herbert’s poetry. The author uses these texts for thoughtful discussions of many of Herbert’s poems. There is a very useful index of biblical references. Although quite specialized, the book is very readable.

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                                                            • Doerksen, Daniel W. Conforming to the Word: Herbert, Donne, and the English Church before Laud. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1997.

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                                                              The complicated strains within the Church of England are clarified as well as one could imagine in this book. Inexact such as like “Puritan” become more precisely divided, and the varieties of attitude toward predestination are spelled out. Although technical, the book is very approachable. Includes a generous bibliography.

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                                                              • Hodgkins, Christopher. Authority, Church, and Society in George Herbert: Return to the Middle Way. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1993.

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                                                                The author places Herbert in the “middle way” of Elizabethan Protestantism and defines this placement carefully. This discussion inevitably leads into considerations of politics, a subject that is also handled in detail. There is an extended treatment of Herbert’s poem “Lent.” The book has a substantial bibliography. Recommended for advanced students.

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                                                                • Veith, Gene Edward, Jr. Reformation Spirituality: The Religion of George Herbert. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1985.

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                                                                  To navigate the complex cross currents of 17th-century belief, we need a knowledgeable pilot if we are to arrive at a safe harbor. This book supplies that need. While not intended for beginning students, it is clearly written and accessible. There is a short but useful bibliography.

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                                                                  • Wengen-Shute, Rosemary Margaret van. George Herbert and the Liturgy of the Church of England. Oegstgeest, The Netherlands: Drukkerij de Kempenaer, 1981.

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                                                                    The Book of Common Prayer was the required manual for the Church of England throughout Herbert’s lifetime. Therefore, by studying the biblical passages required for certain days, one may find the imagery Herbert uses in accord. This promising approach is used for a number of poems in this small volume.

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                                                                    Religious Approaches to Herbert’s Poetry

                                                                    Taylor 1974 uses a theological background to bring out Herbert’s ideas about time, light, and eternity. Fish 1978 and Sherwood 1989 use catechisms and prayer, respectively, to approach the poems, while Asals 1981 and Clarke 1997 approach them from a broader theological perspective. Whalen 2002 concentrates on the Eucharist as a key to Herbert.

                                                                    • Asals, Heather A. R. Equivocal Predication: George Herbert’s Way to God. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1981.

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                                                                      This technical study of Herbert’s religious language is specifically intended to produce a more advanced study of Herbert’s religion and art than Summers 1954 (cited under 1950s–1960s). This is a challenging but rewarding book. It contains a very useful bibliography of exegetical and doctrinal materials. Definitely for advanced students.

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                                                                      • Clarke, Elizabeth. Theory and Theology in George Herbert’s Poetry: “Divinitie, and Poesie, Met.” Oxford: Clarendon, 1997.

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                                                                        This book is important because it situates Herbert within the complex relationships of 17th-century religious views and addresses the early-modern debate about poetry. Many poems are examined in relation to the main thesis. The substantial bibliography is especially useful for primary materials. Best suited for advanced students.

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                                                                        • Fish, Stanley. The Living Temple: George Herbert and Catechizing. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.

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                                                                          The author notes Herbert’s expressed fondness for catechizing and builds an intriguing case for Herbert’s “catechizing the reader” in The Temple. Many poems are examined in support of the thesis. The substantial bibliography is especially useful for primary materials. Recommended for advanced students.

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                                                                          • Sherwood, Terry G. Herbert’s Prayerful Art. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1989.

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                                                                            More than half of the poems in The Temple are prayers, and prayer was a subject that was well understood in Herbert’s time and easily distinguished from praise. The author employs this useful perspective to analyze many of Herbert’s poems. This book is for students at all levels.

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                                                                            • Taylor, Mark. The Soul in Paraphrase: George Herbert’s Poetics. The Hague: Mouton, 1974.

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                                                                              This slender volume uses a theological background to tease out Herbert’s ideas, as expressed in his poems about poetry, time, light, and eternity. A selected bibliography is especially helpful for theological backgrounds. Most useful for advanced students.

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                                                                              • Whalen, Robert. The Poetry of Immanence: Sacrament in Donne and Herbert. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002.

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                                                                                This learned book traces the 17th-century debate about the Eucharist and studies its appearance in Donne and Herbert. The author’s precision in examining relevant texts is very helpful. Includes a bibliography of works cited. This book is for advanced students.

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                                                                                Religious Responses

                                                                                Thekla 1974, Miller 1979, Sheldrake 2000, and Lennon 2002 present various religious responses to Herbert’s poems.

                                                                                • Lennon, Dennis. Turning the Diamond: Exploring George Herbert’s Images of Prayer. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2002.

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                                                                                  This is a devotional and inspirational meditation on Herbert’s poem “Prayer.”

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                                                                                  • Miller, Edmund. Drudgerie Divine: The Rhetoric of God and Man in George Herbert. Salzburg, Austria: Universität Salzburg, 1979.

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                                                                                    The author’s goal is to treat Herbert as a Christian writer. The book makes a strong argument for the speaker in The Temple to be seen as a universal type rather than as Herbert himself; therefore, Herbert’s intention is to teach. The book has thoughtful examinations of many of Herbert’s poems.

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                                                                                    • Sheldrake, Philip. Love Took My Hand: The Spirituality of George Herbert. Cambridge, MA: Cowley, 2000.

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                                                                                      This small volume is not intended as a scholarly study but rather as an introduction to Herbert’s spiritual wisdom. As such, it will appeal to those whose interest in Herbert aligns with the author’s intentions.

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                                                                                      • Thekla, Sister. George Herbert: Idea and Image; A Study of The Temple. Newport Pagnell, UK: Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Assumption, 1974.

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                                                                                        The author finds in Herbert’s poems an autobiographical expression of his personal experiences, a systematic exposition of Anglican theology, and an offering of this theology to God as a mystery of love. A great many of Herbert’s poems are analyzed in the service of this perspective. The analyses can be helpful.

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                                                                                        Religious Goals

                                                                                        Miller 2007 draws out a conception of what Herbert intended his poems and his other writings to effect.

                                                                                        • Miller, Greg. George Herbert’s Holy Patterns: Reforming Individuals in Community. London: Continuum, 2007.

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                                                                                          This book is primarily a study of Herbert’s life and goals from a careful consideration of his many writings. It argues that Herbert wanted to reform the English Church by reforming individuals in their communities. It is a different and therefore valuable approach to Herbert, most useful for advanced students.

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                                                                                          Selected Essays

                                                                                          These essays have a tighter focus on the issues than do the books noted in other sections. Bell 1977 explores the reception of Herbert’s work by different religious groups. Strier 1987 and Veith 2010 explore the ongoing debate about Herbert’s position—whether more Catholic or Protestant. Martz 1989 and Doerksen 2006–2007 see the ambiguity inherent in the Church of England’s theological positions making debates about Herbert’s Catholic or Protestant leanings not susceptible to resolution, while Veith 1988 attempts to settle the “wars” by redefining our perspectives. Johnson 1992 similarly underscores the variable theological positions in Herbert’s poetry. Maltby 2011, a magisterial essay on the history of the English Church in Herbert’s time and the heated arguments among historians about that history, gives a clear picture of an unclear situation.

                                                                                          • Bell, Ilona. “‘Setting Foot into Divinity’: George Herbert and the English Reformation.” Modern Language Quarterly 38.3 (1977): 219–241.

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                                                                                            The author notes that Herbert’s poems were claimed by royalists and Puritans alike. She looks at a number of Herbert’s poems from the perspective of Reformation theological controversies.

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                                                                                            • Doerksen, Daniel W. “‘Generous Ambiguity’ Revisited: A Herbert for All Seasons.” George Herbert Journal 30.1–2 (2006–2007): 19–42.

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                                                                                              This valuable essay is not a corrective to the “generous ambiguity” found in Herbert by Martz 1989, but rather a detailed and supportive investigation into the Calvin-centered Jacobean church that made such ambiguity possible. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                              • Johnson, Bruce A. “Theological Inconsistency and Its Uses in George Herbert’s Poetry.” George Herbert Journal 15.2 (1992): 1–18.

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                                                                                                The author argues that Herbert’s poems do not strictly adhere to either Calvinist or Arminian doctrines. Rather, they present a wide variety of theological shadings.

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                                                                                                • Maltby, Judith. “‘Neither Too Mean, nor Yet Too Gay?’ The Historians, ‘Anglicanism,’ and George Herbert’s Church.” In George Herbert’s Travels: International Print and Cultural Legacies. Edited by Christopher Hodgkins, 27–55. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                  This masterful essay clarifies much of the complex history of the English Church in Herbert’s time and also reviews the often heated debates among the historians of those times. Remarkably, the essay is also entertaining. The essay is entirely about Herbert’s church, not about Herbert. Primarily for advanced students.

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                                                                                                  • Martz, Louis L. “The Generous Ambiguity of Herbert’s Temple.” In A Fine Tuning: Studies of the Religious Poetry of Herbert and Milton. Edited by Mary A. Maleski, 31–56. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 64. Binghamton, NY: State University at Binghamton Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1989.

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                                                                                                    A gracefully written essay reviewing the importance of calculated ambiguity in the theology of the 17th-century English Church and demonstrating how this works out in Herbert’s poetry.

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                                                                                                    • Strier, Richard. “Getting Off the Map: Response to ‘George Herbert’s Theology: Nearer Rome or Geneva’ (MLA Special Session, 1986).” George Herbert Journal 11.1 (1987): 41–47.

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                                                                                                      A thoughtful response to papers by Andrew Harnack, Donald Dickson, and Daniel Doerksen. Strier sorts out several issues in the debate between those who find Herbert more Catholic and those who find him more Protestant.

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                                                                                                      • Veith, G. E., Jr. “The Religious Wars in George Herbert Criticism: Reinterpreting Seventeenth-Century Anglicanism.” George Herbert Journal 11.2 (1988): 19–35.

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                                                                                                        The “wars” are between those who find Herbert more Catholic and those who find him more Protestant. This essay attempts a settlement by arguing for a reassessment of the models and assumptions that we make about Renaissance spirituality. The author advocates looking separately at views on church government, liturgy, and theology.

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                                                                                                        • Veith, Gene Edward. “‘Brittle Crazy Glass’: George Herbert, Vocation, and the Theology of Presence.” In George Herbert’s Pastoral: New Essays on the Poet and Priest of Bemerton. Edited by Christopher Hodgkins, 52–71. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                          Luther emphasized God’s work in and through human vocation, which emerges clearly in the ways in which Herbert discusses the priest’s work in The Country Parson and in the poems dealing with his vocation as a poet. This is what the author means by “the theology of presence.”

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                                                                                                          Biographies

                                                                                                          Herbert’s religion, life, and writings are intimately interconnected, so biographies are plentiful. Walton 2004, written in 1670, makes Herbert an idealized figure, while Chute 1959 offers a vivid accounting. Charles 1977 is the standard scholarly biography, while Page 1993 provides the most accessible narrative. Powers-Beck 1998 explores the whole Herbert family. Malcolmson 2004 delves deeply into the poet’s life and work.

                                                                                                          • Charles, Amy M. A Life of George Herbert. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977.

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                                                                                                            This biography has as its stated concern a desire to reassess and correct the biography by Izaak Walton (see Walton 2004). Accordingly, a great many primary sources are brought together here. This book has become the standard biography of Herbert.

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                                                                                                            • Chute, Marchette. “George Herbert.” In Two Gentle Men: The Lives of George Herbert and Robert Herrick. By Marchette Chute, 9–152. New York: Dutton, 1959.

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                                                                                                              The author is a writer of popular biographies, so the tone is accordingly lively. Part 1 on Herbert contains a lot of information and is particularly good for background. The author takes Herbert’s poetry as unmediated autobiography. There is a useful bibliography.

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                                                                                                              • Malcolmson, Cristina. George Herbert: A Literary Life. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

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                                                                                                                This book offers a very thoughtful examination of Herbert’s writings in terms of his life and times. It includes a helpful chronology of Herbert’s life with contextual dates. There is no bibliography but provides suggestions for further reading in the preface. Recommended for advanced students.

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                                                                                                                • Page, Nick. George Herbert: A Portrait. Tunbridge Wells, UK: Monarch, 1993.

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                                                                                                                  A concise, clearly written, and easy-to-read biography. While very accessible, it is also complete and thorough. The author treats Herbert’s poetry as straight autobiography. Recommended as a good starting place for the biographical study of Herbert.

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                                                                                                                  • Powers-Beck, Jeffrey P. Writing the Flesh: The Herbert Family Dialogue. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                    This book starts where typical biographies of George Herbert end. By discussing the Herbert family as a whole, the author is able to approach George Herbert from a new and helpful perspective. This book is very valuable for advanced students. It contains a substantial bibliography of primary and secondary materials.

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                                                                                                                    • Walton, Izaak. “Izaak Walton’s The Life of George Herbert.” In George Herbert: The Complete English Poems. Edited by John Tobin, 265–314. London: Penguin, 2004.

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                                                                                                                      There are many editions of this work; this Penguin edition has been selected because of its wide availability. Modern biographers unanimously observe that Walton’s biography is an idealized portrait intended to further certain social and political aims of the established English Church. That said, Walton had access to some materials now lost and writes engagingly. This is a good period piece. Penguin edition originally published in 1991.

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                                                                                                                      Selected Biographical Essays

                                                                                                                      Kerrigan 1985 brings psychoanalysis to Herbert’s life. Powers-Beck 1993 offers a revisionist interpretation of a key event in Herbert’s life. Lull 1998 notes that the concentration of biographers on Herbert’s mother may be simply because we know so much about her. Miller-Blaise 2006–2007 suggests that melancholy may have played a significant role in Herbert’s life, and Ransome 2007–2008 revisits the friendship between Herbert and Nicholas Ferrar.

                                                                                                                      • Kerrigan, William. “Ritual Man: On the Outside of Herbert’s Poetry.” Psychiatry 48.1 (1985): 68–82.

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                                                                                                                        The major ritual for Herbert is the Eucharist. This essay, filled with the language of psychoanalysis, considers Herbert’s early loss of his father and later loss of his mother as important events both for his English and Latin poems.

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                                                                                                                        • Lull, Janis. “George Herbert, Magdalene Herbert and Literary Biography.” Ilha do Desterro 34 (1998): 13–26.

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                                                                                                                          This perceptive essay observes that the amount of attention given to George Herbert’s relationship with his mother may arise simply because we know so much about her; especially important for interpretations of Memoriae Matris Sacrum.

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                                                                                                                          • Miller-Blaise, Anne-Marie. “George Herbert’s Distemper: An Honest Shepherd’s Remedy for Melancholy.” George Herbert Journal 30.1–2 (2006–2007): 59–83.

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                                                                                                                            In this very original and wide-ranging essay, the author draws on Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, 3 vols. (London: Dent, 1932; originally published 1621) to show how the early-modern understanding of that condition can shed light on Herbert’s writings and on his career. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                            • Powers-Beck, Jeffrey P. “Conquering Laurels and Creeping Ivy: The Tangled Politics of Herbert’s ‘Reditum Caroli.’” George Herbert Journal 17.1 (1993): 1–23.

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                                                                                                                              Herbert praised peace in his oration on the prince’s return to England, while the spurned Charles was bent on war. Many biographies have argued this oration ended Herbert’s hope for court preferment. This well-informed essay shows that both the occasion and the oration were much more nuanced.

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                                                                                                                              • Ransome, Joyce. “George Herbert, Nicholas Ferrar, and the ‘Pious Works’ of Little Gidding.” George Herbert Journal 31.1–2 (2007–2008): 1–19.

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                                                                                                                                This essay explores the relationship between Herbert and Ferrar with special attention to Ferrar’s translation of Valdesso’s Considerations, on which Herbert wrote a commentary. While biographers have regularly discussed the relationship between the two men, this essay suggests deeper theological discussions between them than has been argued.

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                                                                                                                                Books on Herbert and Donne

                                                                                                                                Shaw 1981 discusses the importance of priestly vocation for both, while Whalen 2002 examines the writings of both men from the perspective of immanence. Cruickshank 2010 brings together historical and formal analyses in a manner best suited to graduate students.

                                                                                                                                • Cruickshank, Frances. Verse and Poetics in George Herbert and John Donne. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                  The author wants to bring together formalism and historicism and largely succeeds. She skillfully weaves modern critical theory, modern critical comments, and historical writings together in her analyses of poetry by Donne and Herbert. The bibliography includes only the works cited. Best for advanced students.

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                                                                                                                                  • Shaw, Robert B. The Call of God: The Theme of Vocation in the Poetry of Donne and Herbert. Cambridge, MA: Cowley, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                    The theme of vocation is an excellent perspective from which to view Herbert, whose writings deal with both the role of poet and the role of priest. There are some useful insights into Herbert in this very short book.

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                                                                                                                                    • Whalen, Robert. The Poetry of Immanence: Sacrament in Donne and Herbert. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                      Traces the 17th-century debate about the Eucharist and studies its appearance in Donne and Herbert. The author’s precision in examining relevant theological texts is very helpful. Both poets are carefully examined, and many poems are elucidated. Includes a bibliography of works cited. This book is for advanced students.

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                                                                                                                                      Books with Chapters on Herbert

                                                                                                                                      Many studies of 17th-century nondramatic poetry include a chapter on Herbert. This category is necessarily broad because the approaches range from meditation and contemplation to casuistry and physiology. All are ultimately historically based, but history knows no boundaries. The treatments in the 1950s through the 1970s arise from religious issues of the times, while those in the 1980s add secular backgrounds. The studies from the 1990s to the present are similarly a mix of investigations of the poetry arising from studies of religious and secular historical backgrounds.

                                                                                                                                      1950s–1970s

                                                                                                                                      Martz 1954 is one of the most influential books on poetry of this period. Here, the author explores the meditative tradition and its appearance in Herbert. Roche 1970 contains two essays by Rosamond Tuve on Herbert, both for the advanced student. Halewood 1970 investigates the Protestant emphasis on grace, while Grant 1974 brings theological issues to bear on Herbert in two chapters. Low 1978 notes the importance of music and church celebrations for Herbert. Lewalski 1979 emphasizes the Bible and emblem books in the author’s discussion of Herbert.

                                                                                                                                      • Grant, Patrick. The Transformation of Sin: Studies in Donne, Herbert, Vaughan, and Traherne. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1974.

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                                                                                                                                        The first chapter on Herbert emphasizes his Augustinian inheritance, while a second chapter deals with Herbert’s commentary on the Divine Considerations of Juan de Valdés. Although these chapters are based on theological concerns, the text is quite readable and many of Herbert’s poems are analyzed in a helpful way.

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                                                                                                                                        • Halewood, William H. The Poetry of Grace: Reformation Themes and Structures in English Seventeenth-Century Poetry. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1970.

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                                                                                                                                          Contains a valuable chapter on our ideas about “metaphysical” poetry. Emphasizes the Protestant tradition of grace as opposed to works. The chapter on Herbert addresses a poetry of reconciliation. A very readable book.

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                                                                                                                                          • Lewalski, Barbara Kiefer. Protestant Poetics and the Seventeenth-Century Religious Lyric. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                            This book examines Protestant approaches to the Bible, kinds of meditation, and religious art as foundations for the study of 17th-century English religious lyrics. The chapter on Herbert (chapter 9, “George Herbert: Artful Psalms from the Temple in the Heart”) emphasizes his Protestant basis, biblical genres and tropes, and Protestant emblems.

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                                                                                                                                            • Low, Anthony. Love’s Architecture: Devotional Modes in Seventeenth-Century English Poetry. New York: New York University Press, 1978.

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                                                                                                                                              The chapter on Herbert notes his indebtedness to musical devotions and to church holidays and observances. The author also notes iconographic backgrounds from biblical illuminations where appropriate. This is a helpful essay for all readers.

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                                                                                                                                              • Martz, Louis L. The Poetry of Meditation: A Study of English Religious Literature of the Seventeenth Century. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1954.

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                                                                                                                                                This book brings together a number of well-known meditative works of the time and then investigates how this inheritance affected the poetry of Donne, Herbert, and some others. There are ample and helpful sections on Herbert.

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                                                                                                                                                • Roche, Thomas P., Jr., ed. Essays by Rosemond Tuve: Spenser, Herbert, and Milton. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970.

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                                                                                                                                                  This collection of previously published essays by Tuve includes two on Herbert. The first is a study of love as “caritas” as found in the poems; the second a very technical study of Herbert’s poem “Parodie.” Both will be appreciated by advanced students.

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                                                                                                                                                  1980s

                                                                                                                                                  Seelig 1981 argues that The Temple is one long, interconnected poem. Slights 1981 teaches us that casuistry was a respected mode of analysis in Herbert’s day, and the author uses it to an advantage. Dickson 1987 brings a typological understanding of water to bear on Herbert. Wall 1988 brings together both sacred and secular texts to read Herbert, while Clements 1990 brings forward ideas about contemplation.

                                                                                                                                                  • Clements, Arthur L. Poetry of Contemplation: John Donne, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, and the Modern Period. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                    The author examines Renaissance ideas about both mysticism and contemplation, and uses this perspective to examine the works of the poets named in the title. The chapter on Herbert (pp. 81–128) includes a lengthy examination of “Artillerie” and shorter comments on many other poems. There is a substantial bibliography.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Dickson, Donald R. The Fountain of Living Waters: The Typology of the Waters of Life in Herbert, Vaughan, and Traherne. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                      The typological understanding of water, lost in the Fall but restored by Christ, is used by Herbert for the grace conferred in baptism and for the conferring of grace generally. The chapter on Herbert treats a number of poems. The book includes a bibliography particularly helpful for primary sources.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Seelig, Sharon Cadman. “Between Two Worlds: Herbert.” In The Shadow of Eternity: Belief and Structure in Herbert, Vaughan, and Traherne. By Sharon Cadman Seelig, 7–43. Louisville: University Press of Kentucky, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                                        In this chapter on Herbert, the author examines a number of poems in The Temple to argue that it is really one long, interconnected poem. This chapter will be most useful to beginning students of Herbert.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Slights, Camille Wells. “Casuistry in The Temple.” In The Casuistical Tradition in Shakespeare, Donne, Herbert and Milton. By Camille Wells Slights, 183–246. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                                          Casuistry, used today derogatively as self-serving argumentation, was respected in the 17th century. Simply, it was seen as the process of applying moral principles to real life. The chapter on Herbert is a refreshing look at many of his poems from this important perspective. Best for advanced students.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Wall, John N. Transformations of the Word: Spenser, Herbert, Vaughan. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                            The long chapter on Herbert draws on the Book of Common Prayer, the Bible, Petrarchan love imagery, and church history. Herbert’s didactic purpose in creating a Christian commonwealth is underscored throughout. This detailed book reads very slowly but will reward advanced students.

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                                                                                                                                                            1990s–Present

                                                                                                                                                            Guibbory 1998 finds Herbert ambivalent about church ceremony. Schoenfeldt 1999 uses the concept of the four humors to read Herbert. Young 2000 takes a revisionist approach to the critical emphasis on Protestant concerns in Herbert. Sullivan 2008 investigates Herbert from the perspective of Renaissance idea about conscience.

                                                                                                                                                            • Guibbory, Achsah. Ceremony and Community from Herbert to Milton: Literature, Religion and Cultural Conflict in Seventeenth-Century England. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                              The debate about ceremony in worship is important for understanding Herbert, whose poems mirror the conflicts of the time. The chapter on Herbert (“George Herbert: Devotion in The Temple and the Art of Contradiction,” pp. 44–78) argues that he is at once supportive of ceremony but suspicious of external, corporeal forms of worship. This illuminating study is best for advanced students.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Schoenfeldt, Michael C. Bodies and Selves in Early Modern England: Physiology and Inwardness in Spenser, Shakespeare, Herbert, and Milton. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                This book rehearses the early-modern belief in the four humors. The author’s very original approach to Herbert (“Devotion and Digestion: George Herbert’s Consuming Subject,” pp. 96–130) concentrates on eating, from Adam’s “dietary indiscretion” to the sacred meal of the Eucharist, and yields unexpected insights into Herbert’s poetry and prose. Recommended for advanced students.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Sullivan, Ceri. The Rhetoric of the Conscience in Donne, Herbert, and Vaughan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                  The author looks at five images in which the rhetoric of conscience comes into play; for example, the tortured self, which leads into a discussion of Herbert’s “Love Unknown.” This very technical discussion is suitable only for advanced students. There is a substantial bibliography, particularly helpful for primary texts.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Young, R. V. Doctrine and Devotion Seventeenth-Century Poetry: Studies in Donne, Herbert, Crashaw, and Vaughan. Woodbridge, UK: Brewer, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                    This book is both very learned and very argumentative. The author disputes much of the scholarly commentary on Herbert’s Protestant poetics. There are detailed studies of many of Herbert’s poems with these concerns in mind. The book includes an extensive bibliography of both primary and secondary materials.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Comparative Study and Psychology

                                                                                                                                                                    Eliot 1962 briefly treats Herbert and Donne. Westerweel 1984 concentrates on just four poems. Guernsey 1999 approaches Herbert through psychology, and McGill 2004 compares Herbert and R. S. Thomas.

                                                                                                                                                                    • Eliot, T. S. George Herbert. London: Longman’s Green, 1962.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Eliot’s short essay on Herbert is perhaps more important for the celebrity of its author than for its illumination of Herbert. It does, however, include valuable comparisons and contrasts between Donne and Herbert. Peter Porter adds a short bibliography.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Guernsey, Julia Carolyn. The Pulse of Praise: Form as a Second Self in the Poetry of George Herbert. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                        An ambitious study drawing on the work of the psychologist Donald W. Winnicott. The author finds a “second self” in Herbert’s poems, discoverable through prosody, that exists in tension with the poems’ discursive meanings. The bibliography includes some psychological writings. This approach will not appeal to all readers.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • McGill, William J. Poets’ Meeting: George Herbert, R. S. Thomas and the Argument with God. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                          This book compares Herbert with the 20th-century poet and priest R. S. Thomas. It will be most useful to those who are interested in both.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Westerweel, Bart. Patterns and Patterning: A Study of Four Poems by George Herbert. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                                            The four poems extensively studied here are the two shaped poems, “The Altar” and “Easter-Wings,” and “The Pilgrimage” and “Love” (III). The author’s discussions are very detailed and draw on emblem books, other shaped poems, and more. Includes a substantial bibliography. Recommended for advanced students.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Technical Studies

                                                                                                                                                                            Freer 1972 draws on the metrical Psalm tradition. Taylor 1974 uses theology to study poetics. Higgins 1977 studies pattern poems, while Edgecombe 1980 examines imagery, syntax, and metrics. Hegnauer 1981 uses one rhetorical term to study one poem. Todd 1986 draws on St. Augustine’s sign theory to read the poems.

                                                                                                                                                                            • Edgecombe, Rodney. “Sweetnesse Readie Penn’d”: Imagery, Syntax and Metrics in the Poetry of George Herbert. Salzburg, Austria: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Universität Salzburg, 1980.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Herbert’s use of imagery, syntax, and metrics are discussed with reference to several poems for each topic in this short study. There is a brief bibliography.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Freer, Coburn. Music for a King: George Herbert’s Style and the Metrical Psalms. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1972.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Attempts to illuminate Herbert’s poems by studying them against the background of metrical translations of the Psalms, which were popular at the time. The approach is somewhat restrictive. A relatively small number of Herbert’s poems are treated at length.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Hegnauer, Salomon. Systrophe: The Background of Herbert’s Sonnet “Prayer.” Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Systrophe is a rhetorical term meaning to pile up many definitions of a thing without actually naming its substance. Herbert’s “Prayer,” a poem consisting of a linked set of statements about prayer, may be profitably studied as a systrophe. This very technical study is only for advanced students.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Higgins, Dick. George Herbert’s Pattern Poems: In Their Tradition. West Glover, VT: Unpublished Editions, 1977.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Herbert was influenced by the very popular Greek Anthology to write several poems in patterned form. This very short study puts “The Altar” and “Easter Wings” into that tradition.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Taylor, Mark. The Soul in Paraphrase: George Herbert’s Poetics. The Hague: Mouton, 1974.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      “Poetics” is broadly defined to include a theological background, used to tease out Herbert’s ideas, as expressed in his poems, about poetry, time, light, and eternity. There is a selected bibliography that is especially helpful for theological backgrounds. Most useful for advanced students.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Todd, Richard. The Opacity of Signs: Acts of Interpretation in George Herbert’s The Temple. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        The author draws on the sign theory of St. Augustine to read Herbert’s poetry. A great many of the poems in The Temple are profitably discussed here. There is a short bibliography.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Collected Essays

                                                                                                                                                                                        Collections are valuable but difficult to categorize. Many are selected from conferences. Roberts 1979 collected a variety of “essential” essays, but that was long ago. Summers and Pebworth 1980 selected a number of conference papers from a conference series, as did Miller and DiYanni 1987 from the same series. Wilcox and Todd 1995 selected papers from a conference celebrating Herbert’s four-hundredth anniversary. Hodgkins 2010 selected papers from a conference sponsored by the George Herbert Society on Herbert’s pastoral writings, while Hodgkins 2011 selected from a similar conference on Herbert’s influences far and wide.

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Hodgkins, Christopher, ed. George Herbert’s Pastoral: New Essays on the Poet and Priest of Bemerton. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          This volume grew out of the first George Herbert Conference, held in Salisbury, England, in 2007. The term “pastoral” is employed in its widest sense to include social issues, theological issues, and more. The book also offers an introduction, a general index, and an index of citations of Herbert.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Hodgkins, Christopher, ed. George Herbert’s Travels: International Print and Cultural Legacies. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            This volume grew out of the second George Herbert Conference in 2008. The metaphorical “travels” include an essay on his “greatness,” another on historical views of Herbert’s church, and several on Herbert’s influence on later poets. There are an introduction, a general index, and an index of citations of Herbert.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Miller, Edmund, and Robert DiYanni, eds. Like Season’d Timber: New Essays on George Herbert. New York: Peter Lang, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              The twenty-one essays in this volume include two biographical studies, three on Herbert and the arts, five on Herbert’s less familiar works, six on his contemporaries, and five on his later influence. The editors have selected well and this is a valuable book although now somewhat dated.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Roberts, John R., ed. Essential Articles for the Study of George Herbert’s Poetry. Hamden, CT: Archon, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Many articles deemed essential thirty some years ago have been superseded, but some have not. Accordingly, this volume remains helpful even though dated. The selections fall into seven categories: general studies; rhetoric, style, and form; images and allusions; prosody; the unity of The Temple; individual poems; and Latin poetry.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Summers, Claude J., and Ted-Larry Pebworth, eds. “Too Rich to Clothe the Sunne”: Essays on George Herbert. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  This volume includes an introduction and fifteen essays covering a wide variety of topics, from editing to numerology. It lacks a general index but has an index of citations of Herbert’s work.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Wilcox, Helen, and Richard Todd, eds. George Herbert: Sacred and Profane. Amsterdam: Free University Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    This collection grew out of the celebration of Herbert’s quatercentenary in 1993. There is a lively introduction on forms of historicism followed by fifteen essays on a wide variety of topics. The volume includes an index of Herbert’s poems treated critically in the book.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Temple

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Gottlieb 1989 provides a summary of the complex political and social background of The Temple, while Post 1994–1995 introduces The Temple from a perspective founded on both theology and contemporary poetic practice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Gottlieb, Sidney. “The Social and Political Backgrounds of George Herbert’s Poetry.” In “The Muses Common-weale”: Poetry and Politics in the Seventeenth Century. Edited by Claude J. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth, 107–118. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      This essay recontextualizes Herbert’s poetry within the exceedingly complex religious, social, and political atmosphere of his times. The essay shows Herbert’s ability to blend polemic into seemingly personal poetry. It is a useful starting place for approaching the multifaceted background of Herbert’s poetry.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Post, Jonathan F. S. “Substance and Style: An Introduction to The Temple.” George Herbert Journal 18.1–2 (1994–1995): 1–28.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        This essay puts The Temple into a useful context of 17th-century poetry and theology. The writing is learned but light, and the author is very deft in his treatment of many of Herbert’s poems. A good starting place for newcomers yet valuable for advanced students.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        Structure and the Interior Sequences

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Endicott-Patterson 1965 questions the tripartite structure of The Temple. Gottlieb 1989 notes the significant differences between the earlier and later versions of the section known as “The Church,” while Gottlieb 1993 suggests that one interior sequence reveals a bias against the Court. Bienz 1997–1998 argues that The Temple has both a tripartite structure and a looser, more random possibility for reading, while Dyck 2004–2005 similarly argues for an unstructured understanding of the five “Affliction” poems.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Bienz, John. “The Temple as Conceptual Metaphor.” George Herbert Journal, 21.1–2 (1997–1998): 1–18.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1353/ghj.2013.0004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Early readers would at first have found The Temple to be a flexible and portable devotional companion. However, a less flexible structure would later emerge, controlled by the book’s own tripartite division, and the occurrence in it of poems about church festivals. This essay is best suited to advanced students. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Dyck, Paul. “‘Thou Dids’t Betray Me to a Lingering Book’: Discovering Affliction in The Temple.” George Herbert Journal 28.1–2 (2004–2005): 28–47.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            The five poems entitled “Affliction” are not numbered in early editions of The Temple and so are not necessarily sequential. This essay not only illuminates the “Affliction” poems but also suggests that some modern ideas about the structure of The Temple might be reconsidered. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Endicott-Patterson, Annabel M. “The Structure of George Herbert’s Temple: A Reconsideration.” University of Toronto Quarterly 34 (1965): 226–237.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              The essay argues against the idea that the threefold division of The Temple might be based on the tripartite division of the Hebrew Temple. The essay also suggests that the section called “The Church Militant” may not belong under the rubric of The Temple.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Gottlieb, Sidney. “The Two Endings of George Herbert’s ‘The Church.’” In A Fine Tuning: Studies of the Religious Poetry of Herbert and Milton. Edited by Mary A. Maleski, 57–76. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 64. Binghamton, NY: State University at Binghamton Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                An important essay because it emphasizes the differences, rather than the similarities, between the earlier and later versions of “The Church,” finding the later version recognizing a more familiar and gentler God.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Gottlieb, Sidney. “From ‘Content’ to ‘Affliction’ (III): Herbert’s Anti-Court Sequence.” English Literary Renaissance 23.3 (1993): 472–489.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-6757.1993.tb01070.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Through a close analysis of six poems (“Content,” “The Quidditie,” “Humilitie,” “Frailtie,” “Constancie,” and “Affliction” [III]), the author shows that the sequence subtly disparages the affairs of courts and courtiers while finally affirming the primacy of the spiritual life, even in affliction. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Imagery

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Knieger 1966 first articulated the surprising amount of business and commercial imagery in Herbert’s devotional poems. Clarke 1995 argues against those who understand the phrase “private ejaculations” in the subtitle of The Temple in a modern way, while Rudrum 1997 argues against the discovery of sexual meanings generally in Herbert’s poetry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Clarke, Elizabeth. “Herbert’s House of Pleasure? Ejaculations Sacred and Profane.” George Herbert Journal 19.1 (1995): 55–71.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    An elegantly argued essay bringing forward contemporary usages to discourage Freudian interpretations of the phrase “private ejaculations” in the extended title of The Temple.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Knieger, Bernard. “The Purchase-Sale: Patterns of Business Imagery in the Poetry of George Herbert.” Studies in English Literature 6.1 (1966): 111–124.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This helpful essay notes the prevalence of commercial language in Herbert’s devotional poems. Words like “debtor,” “creditor,” “purchase,” “sale,” “commerce,” and “expense” abound in the poems and can be used either negatively or positively. This vocabulary doubtless derives from the idea of redemption, which is literally a buying back. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Rudrum, Alan. “The Problem of Sexual Reference in George Herbert’s Verse.” George Herbert Journal 21.1–2 (1997): 19–32.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This essay argues against the discovery of sexual double meanings in Herbert’s English poetry in general. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Country Parson (Also Known as A Priest to the Temple)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cooley 2004 provides a searching account of The Country Parson, while Wolberg 2008 approaches it through a comparison with other instructional manuals. Wood 2010 examines one instance of Herbert’s careful use of equivocal language.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Cooley, Ronald W. “Full of All Knowledg”: George Herbert’s Country Parson and Early Modern Social Discourse. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This incisive study not only examines The Country Parson in itself but also carefully places it in its historical, political, and social contexts. There is also a chapter on the work’s utility in understanding poems in The Temple. Includes a substantial bibliography.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Wolberg, Kristine A. “All Possible Art”: George Herbert’s The Country Parson. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This approachable volume notes Herbert’s emphasis on the parson’s life rather than his doctrines and compares his book with other such manuals. The book also discusses courtesy books and the possible indebtedness of Herbert’s book to an Italian courtesy book on civil conversation. There is a short bibliography.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Wood, Chauncey. “George Herbert and the Widow Bagges: Poverty, Charity, and the Law.” In George Herbert’s Pastoral: New Essays on the Poet and Priest of Bemerton. Edited by Christopher Hodgkins, 173–180. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              While Herbert calls the Poor Law Act of 1601 “that excellent statute” (cited on p. 179), nevertheless a careful reading of his text reveals that he actually prefers charitable giving to state-supported set pensions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Latin Writings

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              McCloskey and Murphy 1965 offers translations of all of Herbert’s Latin poetry. Doelman 1992 analyzes the odd publication history of Musae Responsoriae, while Powers-Beck 1993 offers a revision of the biographical import of the oration Reditum Caroli.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Doelman, James. “The Contexts of Herbert’s Musae Responsoriae.” George Herbert Journal 15.2 (1992): 42–54.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Why did Herbert write these satiric Latin verses long after the work they attacked had been published, and why were they not published until forty years later? The author argues that Herbert supported traditional English liturgical practices and their extension to Scotland, which was topical over the whole time frame.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • McCloskey, Mark, and Paul R. Murphy. The Latin Poetry of George Herbert. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1965.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This facing-page translation of all of Herbert’s Latin poems is the only complete modern edition. Those who have used the translations for published essays have regularly modified these translations, complaining that they are too loose and imprecise.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Powers-Beck, Jeffrey. “Conquering Laurels and Creeping Ivy: The Tangled Politics of Herbert’s ‘Reditum Caroli.’” George Herbert Journal 17.1 (1993): 1–23.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Herbert’s oration is written in Latin so is included here, but its importance is really biographical. Many have argued that Herbert’s praise of peace before the Prince, who was intent on war, ended Herbert’s hope for preferment at court. This well-informed essay shows that both the occasion and the oration were much more nuanced.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Memoriae Matris Sacrum

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The nineteen poems in Latin and Greek commemorating the death of Herbert’s mother, Magdalen Danvers, were published in 1627 as an addendum to her funeral sermon, written by John Donne. The intensity of the language and imagery of the poems have prompted several psychological inquiries into the relationship between Herbert and his mother. Pearlman 1983 emphasizes the closeness of Herbert’s relationship with her, while Rubin 1992 finds psychosexual imagery in the poems, and Rubin 1994 perceives an imagined erotic relationship. Lull 1998 argues that Herbert’s mother looms large in discussions of him simply because we know a lot about her. Freis, et al. 2009–2010 offers a new edition and heavily annotated translation of the poems that illuminates the classical nature of them and largely negates psychological interpretations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Freis, Richard, Catherine Freis, and Greg Miller, eds. Special Issue: George Herbert’s Memoriae Matris Sacrum: To the Memory of My Mother: A Consecrated Gift—A Critical Text, Translation, and Commentary. George Herbert Journal 33 (2009–2010).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The nineteen poems Herbert wrote after the death of his mother have given rise to psychological speculation about his relationship with her. This volume makes some important corrections to the text, supplies a very accurate translation, and offers a superb commentary. All the extant psychological interpretations are called into question.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Lull, Janis. “George Herbert, Magdalene Herbert, and Literary Biography.” Ilha do Desterro 34 (1998): 13–26.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Biographies of Herbert and interpretations of Memoriae Matris Sacrum have emphasized Herbert’s relationship with his mother. However, this essay notes that attention to this relationship may be skewed because we know so much about her from the historical record.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Pearlman, E. “George Herbert’s God.” English Literary Renaissance 13.1 (1983): 88–112.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The author finds Herbert’s relationship with his mother to be extraordinary and fervid. He notes the similarity of language used to describe God in the English poems and used to describe Lady Danvers in his Latin commemoration. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Rubin, Deborah. “‘Let Your Death Be My Iliad’: Classical Allusion and Latin in George Herbert’s Memoriae Matris Sacrum.” In Reconsidering the Renaissance: Papers from the Twenty-First Annual Conference. Edited by Mario DiCesare, 429–445. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 93. Binghamton, NY: State University at Binghamton Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This essay finds Herbert feeling guilt at his sense of abandonment by and yearning for his mother, further complicated by his anxiety that others may criticize him for these feelings. The author finds psychosexual implications in the imagined house in which the poet might live with his mother in poem 7.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Rubin, Deborah. “The Mourner in the Flesh: George Herbert’s Commemoration of Magdalen Herbert in Memoriae Matris Sacrum.” In Men Writing the Feminine: Literature, Theory, and the Question of Gender. Edited by Thais E. Morgan, 13–28. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This essay sees Herbert as more concerned with his own grief than with portraying his mother. The concentration of some of the poems on the body may result from Herbert’s erotic attachment to his mother. A characterization of his mother never emerges from these poems.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              International Perspectives

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Poggi 1967 essentially describes Herbert’s work for an Italian audience, whereas Festugière 1971 describes and translates Herbert to revitalize French Catholicism. Kuhfuss 2001 sees a conflict between the Church and the individual in Herbert’s time and analyzes a number of poems accordingly. Miller-Blaise 2010 is much more complex than the other studies, discussing the effects of iconoclasm on Herbert.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Festugière, A. J. George Herbert: Poète, Saint Anglican. Paris: Vrin, 1971.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The author, a Dominican friar, admires Herbert, whom he polemically categorizes as a saint. This book is written to bring Herbert’s writings to a French audience to combat the “dullness” of contemporary French Catholicism. This book does not have much that is new for English readers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Kuhfuss, Svenja. Der Priester als Poet: George Herbert’s The Temple im Spannungsfeld von Kirche und Individualität. Tübingen, Germany: Niemeyer, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This book treats the conflict between the Church and the individual in Herbert’s time. The author notes the lines about religion standing on tiptoe in “the British Church,” which barely got past the censor, and speculates that Herbert’s poems often mask provocative views. This study is best for advanced students.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Miller-Blaise, Anne-Marie. Le verbe fait image: Iconoclasmes, écriture figurée et théologie de l’incarnation chez les poètes métaphysiques; Le cas de George Herbert. Paris: Presses Sorbonnes, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Words make images, so the iconoclastic movements of the 16th and 17th centuries threatened poetry as well as visual images. This book argues that Herbert used incarnation theology, itself image-based, to fashion a new poetic language. This original book has a very substantial bibliography. Recommended for advanced students.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Poggi, Valentina. George Herbert. Bologna, Italy: R. Pàtron, 1967.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This monograph, written in Italian, is more descriptive than analytical. The three chapters treat Herbert’s themes and images. There is a short bibliography.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Editing George Herbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Advanced readers come to the realization that what they read is not always what the author wrote. Herbert is no exception, and so essays on editing Herbert are very pertinent. Patrick 1973 explores the editorial problems arising from Herbert’s patterned poems, while Shawcross 1980 examines the issues arising from his double poems. McLeod 1993 gives a detailed inquiry into the publishing history and problems of “Easter-Wings.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • McLeod, Randall. “Fiat Flux.” Paper presented at the Twenty-Fourth Annual Conference on Editorial Problems, University of Toronto, 4–5 November 1988. In Crisis in Editing: Texts of the English Renaissance. Edited by Randall McLeod, 61–72. New York: AMS, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The author delves deeply into the problems in editing: “Easter-Wings,” even looking at binding issues. The style is rather fey, but the information is very helpful.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Patrick, J. Max. “Critical Problems in Editing George Herbert’s The Temple.” In The Editor as Critic and the Critic as Editor: Papers Read at a Clark Library Seminar, November 13, 1971. Edited by J. Max Patrick and Alan Roper, 1–40. Los Angeles: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, 1973.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This essay deals with the editorial problems presented by Herbert’s “shaped” poems and argues for their importance in the scheme of the whole.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Shawcross, John T. “Herbert’s Double Poems: A Problem in the Text of The Temple.” In “Too Rich to Clothe the Sunne”: Essays on George Herbert. Edited by Claude J. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth, 211–228. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This essay, by a major editor, discusses the problems of seven double poems that are treated as single poems in modern editions. It is an important contribution because it calls into question arguments about structure that depend on the total number of poems in The Temple.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Teaching George Herbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Many readers of Herbert will one day become teachers of him. By the same token, advice for teachers can be very valuable for readers. Gottlieb 1990 addresses all 17th-century poetry, including Herbert’s.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Gottlieb, Sidney, ed. Approaches to Teaching the Metaphysical Poets. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This volume offers good background material as well as more specific essays. The chapter on the so-called metaphysicals demonstrates the problems of that rubric, while the chapter on Herbert is helpful for students and teachers alike. There is a substantial bibliography.

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