George Herbert

George Herbert, 1593–1633, one of the English metaphysical poets. Of noble family, he was the brother of Baron Herbert of Cherbury. He was graduated from Cambridge. His early determination to enter the church was temporarily deflected by an appointment as public orator in 1619, a post he held until 1627. In 1630 he was ordained an Anglican priest and made rector at Bemerton. Herbert's devotional poems combine a homely familiarity with religious experience and a reverent sense of its magnificence. His verse is marked by quietness of tone, precision of language, metrical versatility, and the use of conceits. All unpublished at his death, the poems were left by Herbert to his friend Nicholas Ferrar, who had them published as The Temple (1633). Herbert also wrote Latin poems and a prose manual of clerical life, A Priest of the Temple (first printed in Herbert's Remains, 1652). The 20th-century revival of interest in the metaphysical poets has stressed Herbert.

See his complete works edited by F. E. Hutchinson (2d ed. 1953); biographies by I. Walton (1670), G. H. Palmer (1905), A. M. Charles (1977), and J. Drury (2013); studies by M. K. Rickey (1966), A. Stein (1968), and C. A. Patrides, ed. (1983).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

George Herbert: Selected full-text books and articles

The Works of George Herbert By F. E. Hutchinson; George Herbert Clarendon Press, 1941
George Herbert: His Religion and Art By Joseph H. Summers Harvard University Press, 1954
Four Metaphysical Poets: Donne, Herbert, Vaughan, Crashaw By Joan Bennett Cambridge University Press, 1953 (2nd edition)
John Donne and the Seventeenth-Century Metaphysical Poets By Harold Bloom Chelsea House, 1986
Librarian’s tip: "Letting Go: The Dialectic of the Self in Herbert's Poetry" begins on p. 87
The Country Parson; The Temple By George Herbert; John N. Wall Paulist Press, 1981
Green Thoughts, Green Shades: Essays by Contemporary Poets on the Early Modern Lyric By Jonathan F. S. Post University of California Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "On the Poetry of George Herbert"
English Lyric Poetry: The Early Seventeenth Century By Jonathan F. S. Post Routledge, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Substance and Style in George Herbert's 'The Temple'"
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