On the Poetry of George Herbert
But I am lost in flesh, whose sugared lies Still mock me, and grow bold: Sure thou didst put a mind there, if I could Find where it lies.
To have my aim, and yet to be Further from it than when I bent my bow.
“THE CROSS” (25–26)
HE SEEMED TO ME, AT FIRST, SUBVERSIVE. I was younger then. Of George Herbert, what I knew was he'd been a priest. Of devotion, what I imagined was: how difficult can it be? Only cross belief with enough discipline—
Also honesty—love—somewhere, figuring…
About the flesh, I understood as much as about ambition: truly, nothing at all.
The Temple, comprising essentially all of Herbert's poems, seems increasingly a private record, even as the prose work The Country Parson was intended—for himself as much as for others—to be a publicly available instructional work: “a complete pastoral, ” as Herbert puts it in his note