Jane Falloon, Author House, Milton Keynes, 2007. pp 231.
George Herbert was born in 1593 and died in his fortieth year. He came from aristocratic stock and his kinsmen were the Earls of Powis, Lords Herbert of Cherbury in Wales. Through his family and his early position as Orator at Cambridge University he had easy access to the court of King James 1 and subsequently to that of Charles 1. He left a collection of 184 poems which were published after his death. Within the next 80 years 13 editions had been published. They marked him as one of the greatest English poets of the 17th century. Such was the view of many literary critics. Samuel Taylor Coleridge in the 19th century described him as England’s greatest poet and John Ruskin declared him to be his favourite poet. In more recent years, T.S. Eliot and Séamus Heaney were both conscious of his high standing as a poet.
|Easter Wings poem (constructed to shape two wings)|
Despite his aristocratic background and his close access to court, Herbert’s deep spirituality, love of God and commitment to His services led him into a life of humility and service to his Church and to his brethren. He eschewed all the temptations of court and the secular life, not without a struggle of mind and the surprised reactions of some of his friends and kinsmen. He became a deacon of the Anglican Church after leaving Cambridge and only went on to ordination and to a modest parish near Salisbury three years before his death. His life was one of personal poverty and of service to others. During Herbert’s short life, one is impressed by the buoyant optimism among Anglicans and the commitment to the Anglican Church at a relatively tranquil time in its history, after the turmoil of the Reformation and before the circumstances which bitterly divided Protestantism in the reign of Charles 1.
|Young boys and their viols.|