Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Letter to the Editor

Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Letter to the Editor

Article excerpt

Dear Editor,

I liked the way Mark Jarman drew on his father's habits as pastor to light up "The Life and Work of George Herbert" in your Summer 2014 issue. It's touching to read of a poet who, like Donne, underwent unsparing self-examination, and yet unlike Donne, turned aside from the climb to high position to serve in country parishes. Towards the end of this admirable piece, Jarman notes that T. S.Eliot "dismissed Herbert as minor, because he was only a devotional poet," a view that present enthusiasm for Herbert must defy. The fact is Eliot himself, in his last years, drew close to Herbert. His last critical work was an obscure British Council pamphlet published in 1962. In this he owns how of late he turns to Herbert rather than to Donne, feeling at one with Herbert in his honesty about failure and also in a proud man's struggle for humility.

Mark Jarman is convincing about Herbert's late marriage as platonic, and I'm no longer sure that Eliot was right to read into this the bliss he himself was experiencing in his late, second marriage. …

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