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The Flower, Essay On The Poem By George Herbert, Detailed Analysis.

1039 words - 4 pages

"The Flower" by George Herbert is an exuberant, joyful poem in which a single image of the spiritual life is expanded with naturalness and elegance that appear effortless. Herbert refines a style in which the writer tries to write honestly and directly from experience: his imagery is more homely and accessible than John Donne's: if nothing is too exotic for inclusion in Donne's verse, nothing is too ordinary for inclusion in Herbert's. But this has the result that Herbert's images are, generally, more intelligible to the modern reader.In The Flower, Herbert celebrates the joy that accompanies the spiritual renewal, which follows the times of trial. Though he has experienced this many times, yet each time it happens the joy is as boundless as ever. In the second line of the poem he likens this to the regeneration of "the flowers in spring"(2) and thereafter writes of himself as if he were such a flower. This clear statement of the simile makes it plain to the reader that everything written about the flower is to be understood as a picture of man's life in relation to God. Yet we can also delight in the idea of the flower's expressing its feelings about the killing frosts which the "tributes of pleasure bring"(4). The flower, loving the return of spring, but fearful of a late frost, and certain that winter will eventually come again, longs for the perpetual spring of "...Paradise where no flower can wither"(23). By its selfishness and sinfulness it is watered and tries to seize heaven by its own growth; such arrogance must then be punished by God's anger, more severe than any frost. Yet God's severity is remedial not malicious, when the lesson is learned, the flower may be allowed to put out new growth. This is its nature, its proper function in the eyes of God, and its delight. Man's joy is to be found in doing the proper, appointed duty, however high or humble, which he has received from God. This delight is asserted in this stanza of the poem:"And now in age I bud again,After so many deaths I live and write;I once more smell the dew and rain,And relish versing. O my only light,It cannot beThat I am heOn whom thy tempests fell all night"(36-42).These lines speak of the love of God, as a whole delight, of the senses as much as of the spirit. The Flower concludes simply: God's purpose is to show us "we are but flowers that glide"(44), to let us acknowledge our limitation and inconsequence; yet, paradoxically, if we can see this, the reward is great: God "has a garden for us, where to bide"(46). It is those who want more than this, swollen by their arrogance or eminence, who will "Forfeit their paradise by their pride"(49). He makes his subject (a large one, admittedly) God's communion with man. Of this he writes comprehensively and truthfully. His verse reflects his speakers relationship with God - often troubled (but never tortured), often joyful; not thinking of...

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