Category Archives: Herbert (George)

A Divine Stairway of Sharp Angles

Levertov uses to story of Jacob’s Ladder to describe the miracle of poetry.

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Broken in Pieces All Asunder

Flannery O’Connor, like George Herbert, found her Christian faith regularly challenged by deep despair.

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Here Is No Water but Only Rock

Dry rocks have functioned as images of spiritual desolation throughout the history of Good Friday poetry.

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Does God Hear Us When We Cry Out?

The Book of Job, Herbert’s “Denial” and an internet poem about Job’s Wife capture the language of suffering.

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Becoming Intimate with God

As George Herbert and Fiona Sampson make clear, partaking in the eucharist feat is our way of becoming intimate with God.

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The Cleanness of Sweet Abstinence

Herbert paradoxically describes Lent as a “dear Feast” in which we can revel.

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Come, My Light, My Feast, My Strength

In “The Call,” George Herbert opens himself to God’s love with a confidence not found in many of his poems.

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When God’s Call Feels Like a Burden

“Collar” works as a triple pun—a clerical collar, a prisoner’s collar, and “choler.” Why, for all that I have done, am I only harvesting a thorn, George Herbert cries out in the poem by that name. Why am I still standing in suit to God when I could simply turn my back on it all?

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When God Doesn’t Seem to Be Listening

George Herbert’s frustrations at not communicating with God are understandable because the words we use to pray will always feel inadequate. Rather than this being bad, however, we should learn to be humble. It is good that we feel wounded by our words because it is in our brokenness where we most feel God’s presence.

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Let Me Not Love Thee If I Love Thee Not

In threatening God that he will find another master, George Herbert sounds like a five-year-old threatening to run away from his mother. Deep down, he is acknowledging that he has no choice but to love God.

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Rise, Heart, Thy Lord Is Risen

I write this the night before our sunrise Easter service where, as members of our church choir, Julia and I will arise before dawn to sing in the rising of the sun/son. No matter how early we get up, George Herbert’s “Easter” reassures us, the Lord is always there before us

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A Sweet and Virtuous Soul Chiefly Lives

Spiritual Sunday Last week I wrote about how my friend Alan, beset with cancer,  has beenexploring the meaning of love as his health fails. Here’s a beautiful George Herbert poem that captures Alan’s love for creation, his sadness that he must leave it, and (perhaps) his sense that his love may transcend death. Even though […]

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Looking to Poetry for Afterlife Evidence

Spiritual Sunday It has finally sunk in with me that my friend Alan will not recover from his cancer, and I find myself wrestling once again with the questions that arose after my son drowned.  The biggest question, of course, is whether death is the end. Every Sunday in my Episcopal Church I claim that […]

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Renegotiating Our Spiritual Mortgage

Spiritual Sunday Today’s poem, a fabulous sonnet by my favorite religious poet, is also very much in the spirit of the times given our mortgage foreclosure crisis. The latest news is that federal attempts to aid homeowners have been meeting with indifferent success and that people continue to lose their homes. George Herbert’s “Redemption” (1633) […]

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Praying to God to Tune Our Hearts

Spiritual Sunday There are those who think it an impiety to question God. I find more honest, and true, those people who wrestle with their doubts. That’s why I esteem so highly the poetry of George Herbert, the 17th –century Anglican rector. He is constantly searching for God. In some of his poems he struggles […]

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A Physicist and a Metaphysical Poet

The gifted nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer knew that his brilliance was not leading him to inner peace. Perhaps he appreciated George Herbert’s poem “The Pulley” for voicing his condition and was soothed by the poet’s vision of final rest.

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Butterfly Wings, Easter Transformation

Spiritual Sunday In the Episcopal church we are still in the season of Easter, which is coinciding this year with a particularly beautiful spring.  I’ve therefore chosen another Easter poem for “Spiritual Sunday.” This is an emblem poem by my favorite religious poet, George Herbert.  It is entitled “Easter Wings”: Lord, Who createdst man in […]

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