'Ejaculations' and the Poetry of the Psalms: Herbert's Role as Contemporary Psalmist
In the last chapter I argued for a particular kind of relationship between Herbert and the European devotional tradition which François de Sales' rhetorical spirituality represents, suggesting that Herbert knew this Continental poetics, and even experimented with it, but felt the need to separate his lyrics from the excesses of Counter-Reformation piety and rhetoric. After the Council of Trent Counter-Reformation poets concentrated on producing a poetry of the senses in order to manipulate the emotions of the reader. François de Sales is writing at the height of the fashion for the utile-doux, consciously appropriating the 'dépouilles d'Égypte' in the form of rhetorical sweetness, for an audience with literary taste.1 The 'mildness' noted by Martz is as much a feature of the rhetoric of An Introduction to the Devoute Life as of its theology. Both aim to create a serene space in which the imagination can work to bring the Christian into the presence of God. François de Sales' purpose is to incite the emotion appropriate to devotion, from a controlled basis of serenity. His language for the detachment from violent emotion emphasizes strongly the sense of a delineated place in which the presence of God operates:
Examin often every day, at least morning & evening, whether thy soule be in thy hands, or some passion of unquietnes hath robbed thee of it. Consider whether thou have thy hart at commandement, whether it be not escaped and fled away from thee, to some unrulie affection of love, hatred, envie, covetousnes, feare, ioye, sadnes: and yf it be wandred astray, seek it out presently, and bring it back againe gentlie to the presence of God.2
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Publication information: Book title: Theory and Theology in George Herbert's Poetry:Divinitie, and Poesie, Met. Contributors: Elizabeth Clarke - Author. Publisher: Clarendon Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 127.
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