UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Form and vision in four metaphysical poets 1968

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FORM AND VISION IN FOUR METAPHYSICAL POETS by ANTONY FRANK BELLETTE B.A., University of Tasmania, 1958 M.A., University of British Columbia, 1963 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF . THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF. Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of English We accept this thesis as conforming to the required st^dard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA April, 1968- In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s in p a r t i a l f u I f i l m e n t o f the r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u r b i a , I agree; t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l 1 m a k e i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s t u d y . I f u r t h e r a g r e e t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g of t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes r a y be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department o r by h i s r e p r e s e n - t a t i v e s . I t i s u n d e r s t o o d t h a t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department o f The Un i ve rs i ty of B r i t i sh : ,Col umb i a Vancouver 8 , Canada Date ( X ^ j L 2 . U , IX ABSTRACT The relationship between form and content in the religious verse of the metaphysical poets is of great importance in tracing the development of a tradition which includes such dissimilar poets as Donne and Traherne. The nature of the personal religious experience, as expressed in the religious poetry of the first half of the seventeenth century, undergoes significant change. This change is most apparent in the verse of Donne, Herbert, Vaughan and Traherne, and may be described basically in terms of the time when individual soul and God are united. For Donne this union is unattainable in the present and is to be found only after death, as the Divine Poems and the Anniversaries demonstrate; in the poems of Traherne, however, it is experienced at the moment of birth and becomes a continuing, present reality. As we trace in the work of the four poets the gradual bringing into this world of the soul's union with God, we discover also a process in which the barriers of the self are broken down. Individual personality becomes increasingly identified with the Divine Personality, and finally nothing Ill intervenes between present reality and the long-sought vision. This vision, symbolized in Donne's Anniversaries by the liberation after death of the soul of Elizabeth Drury, is progressively interiorized in the verse of the later poets, and in Traherne's lyrics finds a new embodiment in the living experience of the poet® Such a change can be traced in the forms the poets use. We may find not only in the inner structure of line and stanza, but also in the total visual arrangement and organizing principle of a poem or group of poems, formal equivalents to the kind of vision expressed. The Anniversaries and Divine Poems of Donne and the poems in Herbert's The Temple are notable for the complexity of their controlling figures and the intricacy of their verbal structure. In Vaughan's Silex Scintillans and in the poems of Traherne, however, we find simpler and more flexible organizing principles and a corres- ponding decline in the use of complex symbols and conceits„ In general, the formal and structural changes which occur between Donne and Traherne may best be seen as a progressive simplifying and paring d o w n — a removal, in the verse itself, of all that might stand between individual soul and God. But while the nature of the actual religious experience changes in the four poets, and with it the inner structures and iv outer forms of their verse, there remains one single, informing vision of God. God is encountered and described in different ways, but His essential nature is recognized as changeless and unconditioned. In the same way we must examine the differ- ent formal principles within a larger context. In all four poets the concept of the poem as a celebration of and a sacrifice to God remains constant. In all four poets the act of poetic creation itself is analogous to the greater creative Act of God; the poems themselves are individual acts of praise which celebrate as they embody the multiplicity-in-unity of the Creation. Within this context a study of the best and most characteristic verse of these poets shows that there is nothing accidental or unplanned in the methods of organization each used to convey his religious experience. The different poetic forms we encounter, many of them unique, are our first and most compelling guide to the spiritual core of the poetry; they are the means by which we recognize not only the uniquenes of the individual experience, but also its place in the larger framework of universal praise. TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 1 CHAPTER ONE: John Donne . . . . . . . Page 16 CHAPTER TWO: George Herbert « « . . » Page 74 CHAPTER THREE: Henry Vaughan . . . < , < , Page 131 CHAPTER FOUR: Thomas Traherne . . . . Page 188 CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 242 BIBLIOGRAPHY * Page 255 INTRODUCTION This study of four metaphysical poets of the seventeenth century has its origin in a specific question: how can we best relate the religious poetry of John Donne to that of Thomas Traherne, so that these two apparently dissimilar poets? writing at either end of a period which produced so much religious literature, can be seen as part of one evolving tradition - a tradition which also includes George Herbert and Henry Vaughan? What is the relationship between the complex, intricately structured Divine Poems and Anniversaries of Donne, and the free-flowing, repetitive and almost structureless poems of Traherne? The specific question, which serves to define the historical limits of this study, is only part of a more general question which relates in some degree to all religious poetry: how is the religious experience itself to be embodied and conveyed through the medium of verse? If the experience of God and the understanding of His nature vary significantly from one poet to another, how are these differences expressed in terms of the poetry itself? In suggesting answers to both the specific and the general question, I have chosen to concentrate on the actual forms the poets use. The word •form1 here includes both outer shape and inner structure—the total 1 arrangement' of a poem as well as the composition of its separate parts. I have chosen to approach the poems not from the point of view of theme and image, where these have meanings independent of the particular poetic context in which they occur, but from the point of view of the poem itself as a unique verbal structure, appealing to eye and ear alike, and with its own significant rhythmical and visual pattern. Much attention has been given to common rhetorical devices, common meditative and devotional patterns, and common religious, philosophica1 and scientific beliefs, all of which linked the metaphysical poets to their predecessors, and to the European Renaissance in general. Less attention has been given to the way in which the individual poets took common devices, patterns and beliefs and made from them poems whose own individual forms are uniquely expressive of a particular and personal experience of God. One of the most striking results of this expressiveness 3 is the quality of 9 inevitability* which is to be found in so many religious poems of the period—a quality which resides not so much in the appropriateness of a particular poetic form to the experience described, but in the feeling that no other form could have been used so effectively to convey that experience. It is as if each encounter with God, each moment of insightff demanded a new kind of expression in response to His own infinite expressiveness. There is to be found in almost all the metaphysical poets a constant pleasure in devising new stanza patterns, new juxtapositions of rhyme and meter, new modulations and harmonies of sound, within the wide range of lyric possibilities that the Elizabethan poets first began to explore. But in the four religious poets I am concerned with the pleasure is not that of inventiveness for its own sake. Nor is it virtuosity only which ensures that in so many cases a particular verse form appears only once. The care and conscious craftsmanship no less apparent in Vaughan and Traherne than in Donne and Herbert testify to the abiding belief of these poets that the religious poem was at once a hymn, a sacrifice and a celebration. The Church itself provided in its scriptures and its liturgy a rich store of verbal patterns expressive of the praise and prayer of all men. The metaphysical poets drew widely from these common patterns, but their most famous and distinctive poems describe rather the unique encounters between the individual soul and God. These poems combine what is universal with what is most personal. We may find, for instance, common devotional and meditative patterns in the work of all four poets I have chosen to discuss. Such patterns, however, cannot define the essential quality of each poet's separate vision; nor, finally, can they define what the poets share at the deepest level—a vision of God at once personal in its effect and universal in its application. By examining the form and inner structure of individual poems we may discover what 'essential,1 rather than 'accidental, qualities these four poets have in common, and what is distinctive to each. I hope to show that the radical formal changes that occur between Donne and Traherne are neither random in nature nor determined by the vagaries of •taste.' They are in fact 'inevitable,' given the changes which occur in the nature of the religious experience itself— here considered as both personal experience, and as a larger historical process. But it is one thing to notice that changes occur; it is another to ascribe to them a consistent pattern. Even a brief comparison of one of Traherne* s poems with one of Donne's is sufficient to indicate the radical changes which occurred in theme and form. But is it possible to trace the way in which these changes occurred, to find the intermediary steps by which the complex, analytical and introspective verse of Donne gave way in time to the simple, even naive, lyrical outpouring of Traherne? In the poetry of Herbert and Vaughan we can, I believe, trace the successive stages by which this change occurred. Each of the four, while remaining a distinc- tive poet in his own right, represents part of an evolution in religious thought which is most clearly and immediately seen in the poetic forms each uses. In this study I shall be giving equal attention to each of the four poets chosen, in the belief that each casts an illuminating light on the others. Thus in my use of the term •evolution' I do not wish to imply a rigid historical frame- work, nor will I pay special attention to chronological sequence within a particular poet's work. Such a sequence is in many cases impossible to establish exactly; it must also leave out many important considerations in the development of style and form in religious poetry—considerations relating not to calendar time but to the time of the soul, and ultimately to the timelessness of God. That the deepest meaning of a religious poem is essentially unaffected by its particular historical context I take for granted; the form in which that meaning is conveyed, however, does respond to an historical evolution of poetic style, and each poet, by a combination of innovation and imitation, plays a part in this evolution. I believe that this is the only kind of evolution which can be accurately traced without entering into speculation outside of the poetry itself. It is an historical evolution only in so far as different poetic forms and styles succeed each other in time. But its course is determined not so much by an historical pattern of cause and effect, as by a continuous process of remembrance of things past and anticipation of things future. While occurring in time, this process is not regulated by time. Its ultimate nature is mysterious, but the verbal structures are there before us, concrete and unalterable» and it is in terms of these structures and the observable differences and similar- ities between them that I wish to establish patterns of change in the religious experience itseIf. There are several limitations to this study. The first arises necessarily from a belief that the forms of metaphysical poetry are ultimately seIf-sufficient: that is, it is not necessary to consult works of contemporary poetic theory, manuals of rhetoric, or the examples of other poets, in order to *explain* the form of a particular poem. The poets themselves tell us, often in great detail, how their religious poetry is to be read and what the principles of its construction are—-and with the possible exception of Vaughan, they tell us in their own poetry. If we first take heed of these general principles, the care these poets take in their verse ensures that the form of any particular poem will generally explain itself. I have tried, therefore, to keep outside reference to a minimum. I have excluded both theoretical works by other authors and the various prose works of the poets themselves. The second, more important limitation concerns the choice of the poetry itself. I have excluded from discussion all the secular poetry of the poets under consideration. The distinction between 'secular* and 8 religion sj. • particularly in the case of Donne, is admittedly difficult to establish—though it seems to have raised few difficulties for the poets themselves. My choice of poems, however, is restricted to those which describe in a subjective manner the encounter between the individual soul and God. As a general rule, these are the only religious poems of these poets in which verse forms become significant in themselves. Therefore, I have not included in this study religious poems of a purely expository or didactic nature, or orthodox devotional exercises in which the record of distinct personal encounter is absent. In such poems as Herbert's The Church-porch and Vaughan1s verse commentaries on passages from Scripture, the chosen form is essentially a serviceable vehicle, uninteresting in itself. But the major religious poems of all four poets are not of this type; they are poems in 8 which form reflects personal experience at the deepest level. A similar principle underlies the choice of poets. I have chosen four poets who best portray the personal search for union with the Divine, and whose poetry embodies in its forms the nature of this search. I have not included Richard Crashaw because, though a major devotional poet, his poetry on the whole is more a ritualistic celebration than a record of personal search; the basis of subjective experience is transformed into stylized modes of hymn and incantation in which personal elements are of secondary importance. Nor do Crashaw*s poetic forms appear to arise inevitably from a specific situation, as do those of the other poets; rather, they are skillful embellishments of given themes. The exclusion of Andrew Marveil rests primarily on the fact that little of his poetry is essentially religious in nature. Although in many of his poems there is a definite mystical strain, few if any could be described as expressions of a personal encounter with God. Finally, such is the diversity to be found within the four poets I have chosen, that the introduction of more poets would, I feel, make the pattern which I wish to establish less clear through less relevant example. In discussing Donne* s Divine Poems and the Anniversaries„ Herbert* s The Temple. Vaughan* s Silex Scintillans and the verse 9 of Traherne, I shall examine, in addition to the best known poems in these collections, lesser known poems which, regard- less of poetic merit, show significant thematic and formal features. Some poems which may appear either atypical or of only minor importance in themselves, nevertheless point forward in a significant way. For instance, specific themes and forms may be of only minor importance in Donne, and found in only two or three poems of The Temple, yet assume major importance in Vaughan and Traherne. Conversely, certain themes and forms which are dominant in Donne are less important in Herbert, and may disappear entirely in Vaughan and Traherne. I will also emphasize poems, again regardless of merit, which deal specifically with the nature of poetic creation and poetic form as the poet sees them. The religious poet in particular is likely to see them in the light of the Creation and Forms of God, and it is possible here to establish a principle which remains constant, despite formal and thematic change—a principle which does in the end unite the widely differing groups of poems, and makes the four poets funda- mentally one in their poetic purpose, if not in the means by which they fulfill that purpose. This purpose has been briefly alluded to already. It is, in the widest sense, to praise God, and at the same time to know Him to the fullest possible extent and to enter into a state of union with His Will. Within this general purpose lies a belief that the poem which expresses the soul* s longing for greater knowledge and unity is itself the result of a creative act, reflecting in its own limited way the greater Act of the Creator. And since this greater Act inevitably links the individual self with the rest of the Creation, so there is a tendency in all four poets to regard all of Nature as meaningful, its design and pattern reflecting the mind of God. This principle of harmony makes it inevitable that the poem itself should be as far as possible a similar reflection of God1s Design, its beauty and proportion an acknowledgement of His beauty and proportion. This idea did not of course originate with the metaphysical poets. It is they, however, who fully recognized its possibilities, who carried it all the way into the heart and mind and applied its principles to an under standing of the deepest and most intimate personal experience. It is this experience that is finally ordered, given the shape and form of poetry, and offered up as sacrifice. Whether the individual poem expresses joy or penitence, resignation or despair, it is still a sacrifice to God, who is the ultimate reader of the poem and its ultimate Cause. In this sense the poetry of Donne, Herbert, Vaughan and Traherne takes us beyond the limits of poetry itself to 11 contemplation of the Divine. Within this light rather than in the light of any one literary or poetic principle we most clearly see the unity of these poets. It is easier to suggest briefly what unites the poets than it is to summarize the complex changes in tone, theme and form which account for their individuality. Just as the knowledge of God arises from many individual situations and states of mind, so does the verse of these poets take on many different shapes and patterns. Even within a single poet's work can be heard different voices expressing different aspects of the self in its search for wholeness. I have attempted as far as possible within each chapter to define these special voices and patterns in terms of larger organizing principles. We can find poems, for example, who se pattern of development 1s controlled by an outer, imposed form, as with Donne* s sonnets and Herbert*s dialogues and emblems; by one central figure or symbol, as in Donne•s Anniversaries and "Goodfriday, 1613;" by a real or imagined sequence of events, as in.Herbert* s and Vaughan* s narrative poems; by the associative, non-logical expansion of a single idea through a series of examples or variations, as in Herbert* s "Man" and Vaughan* s "Rules and Lessons;" or by an inter-relating series of simple words and images, as in most of Traherne* s poems. 12 Similarly, we will find poems of a strongly antithetical nature where lines, stanzas and sections are 'played off' against each other and brought together through juxtaposition and logical analysis to form an intricately structured whole; or we will find poems in which stanzas proliferate in a kind of spontaneous overflow in which analytic method and logical sequence are replaced by the direct, sensuous depiction of a universe in which God and self are one. We will find poems in which grammatical structure is complex and controlling images multi-structured and ambiguous, and poems which cultivate an extreme simplicity of image and syntax; poems in which space and time patterns form their own intricate structures, and poems in which space and time, as perceived in this world at least, scarcely seem to exist. There are poems in which, as in many of Donne* s, inner conflict seems to do violence to the form which contains it, and poems, like Traherne* s, where the voice of discord is never heard, and line flows into line, stanza follows stanza, in a sustained and seamless unity. I should only wish to suggest now that the great variety of forms and methods of organization can be resolved into a meaningful pattern if we consider the movement from Donne to Traherne, by way of Herbert and Vaughan, as a movement from complexity to simplicity. We will find, for instance, 13 progressively less dependence on complex situations and figures, and a greater emphasis on direct and spontaneous modes of expression. We will find that the poetic unit becomes smaller and simpler: the Anniversaries and The Temple are large and intricately structured poetic wholes, the meaning of which is not fully apparent without complete assimilation of the whole. Silex Scintillans does not have this kind of overall structure, and by the time we reach Traherne we find that each individual poem contains within itself a vision of the whole, and is in a sense interchangeable with almost any other poem. While it is true that stanza pattern after Donne becomes increasingly complex in terms of line length and rhyme scheme, the iambic foot becomes constant and individual words and images become increasingly simple. Paradox, antithesis and complex conceit give way to a simple, transparent vision. I have mentioned only a few instances of the movement toward simplicity in form. To describe the change in the nature of the religious experience itself as a movement toward simplicity would be misleading—yet, as I hope to show, the quality of • inevitability* in the work of these poets is such that no radical formal change could occur without at the same time reflecting deep changes in the way God is experienced and under- stood by the individual poet. We cannot say that in Vaughan 14 and Traherne experience and understanding of God are simpler than in Donne and Herbert? we can, however, find in the later poets a strong desire for the direct, unmediated vision. We can find an increasing dissatisfaction with any order other than the total order of God; Vaughan and Traherne both seem to demand an intimate yet complete realization of God* s order within the self, and both show a movement away from the more logical, analytical methods of Donne and Herbert. There is a gradual shift in modes of thought from the analytical to the intuitive and the mystical. That which constitutes error for Donne takes up more space in the Anniversaries than the direct contemplation of God; in Herbert the revealing and explaining of error are as important as the actual description of the soul* s union with God. If in their analysis of error Donne and Herbert are concerned mainly with the preparation of the soul for its future transformation, Vaughan and Traherne show less interest in the preparation, and more in the trans- formation itseIf. In Traherne, finally, that transformation occurs not in the future but in the present, and it is so immediate and all-consuming that no construction of mind and intellect, such as Donne* s symbolic Elizabeth Drury or Herbert's Temple, mediates between the individual soul and the vision it has attained. To express this immediate unity of the soul in 15 God Traherne replaces the complex organizing structures of Donne and Herbert with his own simpler expression. Finally, I have endeavored to make my own approach to each poet reflect the change from complexity to simplicity that I have outlined briefly above• In Donne* s poems my main concern is the large, controlling figures and the intricate relationship in each poem between the juxtaposed parts and the complex poetic whole. In The Temple and Silex Scintillans of Herbert and Vaughan I am less concerned with the overall structure of these two collections of poems than with the smaller details of rhyme, line length and stanza pattern which make each poem, however short, a seIf-contained unit expressive of a particular situation or state of mind. Traherne I have approached initially from the smallest possible unit, the word itself, in order to demonstrate that his poems are based on formal principles significantly different from those of the earlier poets. In each case I have tried to assess the poems from a critical point of view which best accords with the vision of the individual poet and with the poetic principles he espouses. Such an approach will, I hope, convey the essential quality of each poet and at the same time establish the common end which they all shared—greater knowledge of God and His life within the individual soul. CHAPTER ONE John Donne . • I . , It is not easy to trace a consistent pattern of development in Donne's religious poetry. Written over a long period of time in response to widely varying circumstances, the religious poems seem to show more differences than similarities. Nor does it appear that Donne ever conceived of them as a single literary work, as did Herbert, Vaughan and Traherne in their respective collections. Nevertheless, it is possible to discover in the forms of the religious verse a movement towards order and synthesis which reflects a changing relationship between poet and God. The Divine Poems, which I will consider first, represent only part of this development. In them a number of different 17 Christian themes are expressed, a number of different voices heard, a number of different formal and structural principles explored. But the sonnets, lyrics and meditative and devotional exercises which comprise the Divine Poems, while essential to an understanding of Donne's religious experience, are in many ways a prelude to the long and complex Anniver- saries. In describing the different voices and the different formal principles of the Divine Poems, I hope at the same time to trace a movement towards integration of form and integration of religious experience which is not made fully apparent until the Anniver sar ie s-—poems which, at once personal, philosophical and ethical in nature, reveal the essence of Donne's religious thought. The Anniversar ie s must be regarded as religious poems because, while not specifically Christian in content, they show the final result of the poet* s investigation of the life of the individual soul on earth and in heaven. They provide also the resolution to problems which remain unanswered in many of the specifically Christian poems. It is these problems I wish to examine first, and in order to do this I have divided the Divine Poems into three groups: first, the "Holy Sonnets?" second, "La Corona" and "A Litanie?" third, the "Annunciation and Passion" and "Goodfriday, 1613. Riding Westward." 18 The "Holy Sonnets" provide the first demonstration of Donne"s ability to subject a broad range of religious ideas and feelings to the discipline of poetic form, and at the same time to imbue that form with his own distinctive voice. In view of Shakespeare's achievement we might well ask whether any further developments in the sonnet form were possible. The technical skill and the intense feeling of Donne*s sonnets are justly admired, yet it is sometimes felt that, compared with Shakespeare's, their range is narrower and their interest confined to an intense but nevertheless restricted investigation of one man*s private r elation ship with God. But these sonnets are not just a postscript to the great age of sonnet writing; they in fact contain the elements of another, older, tradition, and the coming together of these two traditions marks a new departure in the use of a well-established form. Since Donne is the only one of the four poets included in this study to make extensive use of an exacting and established poetic form like the sonnet, it is important that we should under stand the changes he wrought in it. Briefly described, the older of the two traditions which merge in Donne * s sonnets is what Douglas L. Peter son calls ,ran uninterrupted tradition of renunciation and penitential lyric," beginning in the Middle Ages and continuing into the Renaissance 19 with such poets as Skelton and Southwell. This religious literary tradition reached its height in the metaphysical poets of the seventeenth century, where it became "the 2 dominant and most vigorous mode of English lyric." On the other hand we have the English sonnet tradition itself, with its gradual replacement of Petrarchan idealism by a kind of native secular empiricism and concreteness, as outlined by J. W. Lever in The Elizabethan Love Sonnet. As early as Wyatt, Lever claims, the sonnet came to reflect "a view of life almost directly antithetical to that of Petrarch. It was rational rather than imaginative, empirical rather than trans- cendental, and in matters of love it replaced romantic ardour 3 by Tudor egotism." The egotism and rationality of the secular sonnet on the one hand, and the spirituality and renunciation of the penitential lyric on the other—they do not suggest an easy or harmonious combination. Yet they do combine in the "Holy Sonnets," and if the resulting poems are uneven, even violent in their extremes, so is the relationship with God which they express. The English sonnet had certain distinct characteristics, and Donne's initial choice of this form as a vehicle for his Christian * confession* was not an arbitrary one. But if, as Peter son claims, criticism of licentiousness was one of the main 20 causes of the religious lyric0s reappearance at the end of the 4 century, then why should Donne, as one of the major religious poets of the period, seem almost to go out of his way to express religious experience in the forms and language of secular verse? It does not seem to have been his intention to •redeem1 the form itself, as Spenser may be said to have done in Amoretti. Nor did Donne ask of God, as Herbert did, "Why are not Sonnets made of thee? and layes / Upon thine Altar burnt?1" The answer, I believe, lies in the logical and even syllogistic nature of the sonnet itself, in its ability, as developed successively by Wyatt, Sidney and Shakespeare, to embody an argument that moves from premises to conclusions in a way not possible in a simple lyric. For Donne, trained in logic and rhetoric from an early age, such a form would seem to have had an inevitable appeal* He would have been aware of the sonnet's ability to juxtapose quatrains and couplet, octet and sestet, in many suggestive ways? to develop within a short space of time the kind of rationally ordered and persuasive argument that simpler lyric and stanzaic forms were not suited for. But neither casuistry for its own sake nor the refinements of secular love are to be found in these sonnets. They are deeply serious and penitential poems, and an examination of their form will show how Donne was able to adapt to his own religious purpose the sonnet's rational structure. 21 It is possible to divide the "Holy Sonnets" into two general thematic groups. One group is based upon the relation- ship between self, God, and Christ the Redeemer? the main 5 examples of this group are Holy Sonnets IV, XI, XII and XV. It will be found that, on the whole, these are the more regular in their form and diction, due largely to the presence of Christ who, in these Sonnets, allays all doubt and answers all questions. For example. Holy Sonnet XV moves steadily forward in long balanced phrases. Clear breaks between quatrains permit the orderly development of the sonnet's action, reaching a climax in the third quatrain with the account of the descent of the Son, and levelling out finally in the antithetical couplet which summarizes and concludes the "meditation:" •Twas much, that man was made like God before. But, that God should be made like man, much more. (p. 11, 11.13-14) The feeling is one of wholeness and completion, of a series of actions both inevitable and reciprocal, with Christ as the perfect manifestation of the mysterious interaction between individual soul and God. The more obvious oppositions of Holy Sonnet XII—the que stion-answer relationship between octet and sestet, the clearly drawn comparison between sinful man and innocent nature—are likewise resolved in the paradox of the Incarnation: 22 But their Creator, whom sin, nor nature tyed, For us, his Creatures, and his foes, hath dyed. (p.10, 11.13-14) The extreme unevenness of the first eight lines of Holy Sonnet IV, where the soul is suddenly called back to face the imminence of death, is matched by the perfect balance and the intricate, almost liturgical repetitions of the conclusion: Yet grace, if thou repent, thou canst not lacke? But who shall give thee that grace to beginne? Oh make thy selfe with holy mourning blacke, And red with blushing, as thou art with sinne; Or wash thee in Christs blood, which hath this might That being red, it dyes red soules to white. (p.7, 11.9-14) Even the violence of the famous opening of Holy Sonnet XI ("Spit in my face you Jewes") gives way to a repeated assertion of that * strange love" by which "God cloth1 d himselfe in vile mans flesh, that so / Hee might be weake enough to suffer woe" (p.9, 11.13-14). In all these sonnets there is little enjarabment, and the intimate voice of the poet describing his own predicament is at the end caught up in the general statement of reconciliation in Christ. The action in each case moves steadily toward the Atonement which places in harmonious relationship all that was opposed and antithetica1. Only in Holy Sonnet XIII does a more hesitant note intrude: "What if this present were the worIds last night?" The soul which seeks the reassurance of Christ is presented with an analogy, drawn from the poet* s "idolatrie," which remains some- what tenuous. The marked change in tone between second and third 23 quatrains as sacred and profane are thrown into jarring juxtaposition, causes a break in the poem and a lapse in the logical development which the final couplet cannot completely mend. The significance of Christ's redemptive act seems almost forgotten, and the persuasiveness of the couplet corres- pondingly diminished: so I say to thee, To wicked spirits are horrid shapes assign*d. This beauteous forme assures a pitious minde. (p. 10, 11.12-14) The interior stress of this Sonnet and the tendency of the couplet to polarize rather than to reconcile two extremes are character- istics of the second group of "Holy Sonnets." The centrality of the Christ figure is not a constant principle in the "Holy Sonnets." In the second group a different kind of thematic structure prevails, and there is a subtle but important change in the way the sonnet form is used. Instead of Christ at the center, symbolic of the reconciliation between self and God, in the second major group of sonnets, particularly I, II, III, V, VI, VII, XIV and XIX, the self is at the center, caught in what appear s to be an unequal struggle between God and Satan— unequal because, apparently, God does not choose to fight, and the seif is impotent in the face of the enemy*s advances. With such profound inequalities as its subject, the sonnet* s develop- ment is not towards a balanced resolution, but towards polarity 24 and despair. Only in Shakespeare's Dark Lady sonnets, with their significant identification of the lady with the Devil, do we find something similar—no final equilibrium, but rather a pitting against each other of opposed elements: in Shakespeare, poet and lady, in Donne, self and God, soul and Devil. There is no issue other than a forceful statement of the impasse. To under stand why, in these most antithetical of Donne's poems, there is no balance or resolution, we must begin with a basic idea common to all the sonnets of the second group. This is the idea of a contract between seIf and God, drawn up a long time ago, now largely unheeded, but brought forcibly to mind again with the passing of time and the imminent expiry of the contract* s terms: Thou hastmade me, And shall thy worke decay? Repaire me now, for now mine end doth hast. (I, p.12, 11.1-2) The idea is established, not only of a delinquent self, reduced now to passivity, but also of a seemingly delinquent God, who could act but chooses not to. Instead, like an absentee landlord unmindful of his own best interest, God turns away while his house is robbed and his enemy triumphs: Why doth he steale, nay ravish that's thy right? Except thou rise and for thine owne worke fight, Oh I shall soone despaire. (II, p.6, 11.10-12) 25 The essential tone of many of this second group of sonnets is conveyed here—despair before the fact that the contract is allowed to fall into the hands of frauds and usurpers. The sonnets of the first group that deal specifically with the Incarnation show an awareness of the fulfillment of the contract in Christ, and they recognize the nature of the legacy left by Christ's death; but they express what Donne himself calls a "wholesome meditation" (XV) — o f the kind which seems to lack efficacy when the predicament is most sharply felt. In this predicament the self stands midway between God and Satan, crying out to the one and unable to resist the other. Christ is not mentioned. At the very brink of destruction the contract seems to remain still unfulfilled. In some cases resentment is directed against the whole idea of contracts and laws: None doth, but all-healing grace and Spirit, Revive againe what law and letter kill. Thy lawes abridgement, and thy last command Is all but love; Oh let this last Will standi (XVI, p.12, 11.11-14) Grace, it seems, is to be extended not through Christ but through an immediate divine gesture to the individual soul—not so much in the fulfilling of an old covenant as in the creating of a new which would cancel all others. It is characteristic of Donne that this wished-for "abridgement" should take the form of a complete destruction of the basis of the contract, the house of 26 the soul itself: Let their flames retire. And burne me 3 Lord, with a fiery zeale Of thee and thy house, which doth in eating heale. (V, p.13, 11.12-14) There is a constant potential for violence and destruction in these poems which becomes immediately apparent in the form. It works counter to the idea of order embodied in wills and contracts, and disrupts the inner structure of the poems. The ordered relationship between component parts which characterizes the sonnet form is weakened by the constant sense of discon- tinuity between the soul and God. The personal voice which in the Christ-centered sonnets became in the end caught up in the transcending order and eloquence of the Incarnation, is now forced to fill with its own eloquence the vacuum of God's seeming indifference. The intimacy of the terms of address in these sonnets is profoundly ironical, not only in view of the great gap between man and God, but also in view of God9s apparent failure to respond. And so it is that the imbalance between self and God, with the self as an imprisoned sufferer calling for help, is paradoxically reversed in such a poem as Holy Sonnet XIV, where the full force of personality and language combine to dominate our responses to the verse. It is this force which cuts across and disrupts the orderly development of the sonnet. Excessive enjambment and strong caesural breaks not 27 only suggest the jagged accents of the impassioned speaking voice, but also effectively prevent the productive coming together of opposites in a greater whole. In the end it is that powerful voice which, thrown against the closed system of the sonnet form, disrupts its inner structure and generates an energy of antagonism so often present in Donne's poetry when the parts cannot be united in a greater whole. To under stand the full significance of this antagonism in the second group of "Holy Sonnets," we need to consider again the formal quality of the sonnet in English. In contrast to longer, more discursive forms, the sonnet became the vehicle for tightly constructed, logical argument. It could lend itself equally to witty trifling with the paradoxes of love or to serious esqploration of inner psychological conflict, but in any case it moved logically from premises to conclusions. Lever says that "the sonnet form of Wyatt and Surrey was especially designed for progressive exposition and inferential reasoning."" One might go further and claim that the end of this exposition and reasoning was an action—not necessarily explicit in the poem, but surely implied. For sonnets are strongly rhetorical, and the end of rhetoric is action—in the case of the love sonnet the union of poet and lady. 28 The "Holy Sonnets" have always as the end of their reasoning and rhetoric the union, not of poet and lady, but of self and God. The action they point to is the outgoing of the self and the inflowing of Grace. But the ironies and paradoxes of the second group of sonnets prevent that action, and the poems end in impasse. The result is a clash between vehemence of language and paralysis of will that is almost unique to these poems. We see in them what Louis Martz in his study of the sonnets as formal meditations calls "the action of an inward search."7 But the outcome of that search, which in the meditative tradition means the translation of the discovery of the image of God within the soul into the outgoing of the soul toward God, is frustrated. Action leading to union is not possible because God cannot be found within the soul. He is in fact a terrible distance away. This awareness of distance occurs in much of Donne's religious 8 poetry, and accounts for some of his most strxkmg images. It is crucial in the "Holy Sonnets," where the form itself seems to require reconciliation in the couplet, but where in fact such a reconciliation is denied because of the apparent indifference of God and the impotence of the soul. This lack of reconciliation is conveyed by sharply opposed lines, and by increasing polar- ization of images. The most striking example occurs in the sestet of Holy Sonnet XIV: 29 Yet dearely*I love you, and would be lov'd faine. But am betroth'd unto your enemie, Divorce mee,'untie, or breake that knot againe. Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I Except you'enthrall mee, never shall be free. Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee. (p. 11, 11.9-14) Here five of the six lines are separated from each other by emphatic antithesis, while each line in the couplet is further divided within itseIf, to make the polarization complete. The repeated negatives in the couplet suggest the possibility of an endless prolongation of a state of spiritual aridity and incompleteness. In this way the "action of the inward search" is cut off at just that point where both sonnet form and meditative pattern would normally carry it through to its proper end and resolution. Martz says of the meditative pattern that "by repetition the mind gradually brings forward into the light of the Divine Idea that knowledge which lies, unformed, within the mind's unconscious and subconscious depths."9 A similar forward move- ment is to be found in the sonnet form—though in this case the movement toward a synthesis is made by way of the logical development of the sonnet*s several parts. But in this poem the logical forward movement of the sonnet pattern, and the emergence into the light of knowledge of the meditative pattern, are both checked by the rigid antithesis. Only an illusion of forward movement is conveyed by the onrush of the verse itself, the effect mainly of a series of closely allied verbs ("breake," "blowe," "burn;" "divorce," "untie," "breake"); only a parody of close relationship is conveyed by the repeated juxtaposition of first and second person pronouns. The energy of the sonnet is unproductive, given shape only by the outward form of the sonnet itself, which here is essentially closed, like the walls of the self which have grown too thick for penetration from outside. For the logical process of the sonnet form has been turned inward upon itself, and like the soul* s reason "is captiv* d, and proves weake or untrue." Not all the sonnets are as extreme as this, but most of them in the second group are concerned with the same question of fulfillment in time, the same desire for all conflicting things to be made one. This desire is frustrated not only by a paralysis of reason and will, but also by a sense of disruption in time. For instance, imagery associated with the Last Judgme&t occurs frequently, but in a curious relationship with the poet's own sense of the present moment. In Holy Sonnet VII ("At the round earths imagin'd corners") the first two quatrains, unseparated, convey through a sustained flow of images a magnificent apocalypse. But in the succeeding six lines there is a complete reversal of mood as the poet seeks some private peace here and now. However, we do not find the Christ of the earlier sonnets who reconciled the temporal and the eternal, and 31 there is no final order. Death and the unknown loom up ahead, while the past is a chaos which does not bear thinking about: The itchy Lecher, and selfe tickling proud Have the remembrance of past joyes, for reliefe Of coming ills. To (poore) me is allow* d No ease. (III, p. 14, 11-.-10-13) There is often a distinct sense of terror as time and space seem to close in; This is my playes last scene, here heavens appoint My pilgrimages last mile? and my race Idly, yet quickly runne, hath this last pace, My spans last inch, my minutes latest point. And gluttonous death, will instantly unjoynt My body. (VI, p.7, 11.1-6) The sense of being caught in some ever-narrowing space between life and death combines with the sense of the infinite gulf separating self and God to produce in several of the sonnets an almost complete destruction of the logical sequence and the orderly development in time which we expect the sonnet form and meditative pattern alike to reflect. Perhaps it is just this sense of collapse and disorder which gives the sonnets their dramatic immediacy. But what is this dramatic quality, and how does it relate to the poet* s relation- ship with God in these poems? It is not the same thing that we find in the Satyres, the Elegies, or the Songs and Sonets, despite similarities in tone and prosodic effects. It is something that arises from the sonnets themseIves considered as monologues. In most of the secular poems there is a constant sense of inter- action between the poet and some other individual—mistress, friend, or sometimes only a hypothetical, unidentified listener—whose presence is taken for granted. These are essentially garrulous, social poems, and in most cases their movement is that of conversation and argument with another person. They are dialogues conducted between the poet and a 11 living, responsive world. The great energy of the "Holy Sonnets," however, should not obscure the fact that they are monologues, when what the poet most desperately wants is dialogue. If a monologue of this nature can be considered dramatic, it must be so in terms of a kind of internal drama, in which the various 'voices* are aspects and projections of the self. When this kind of internal drana occurs in the secular poems, it most often appears as the familiar theme of man as microcosm, and is closely allied with the idea of all-encompassing love, as in the "little worlds" of "The good-morrow" and "The Sunne Rising." What happens to this theme in the sonnets is made clear in Holy Sonnet V, where the theme of the microcosm, announced in the opening line ("I am a little world made cunningly"), is modified drastically by what follows. The "little world" is drowned and burned in order that it might be made over entirely in the image 33 "of thee and thy house." For the inner "drama" of these sonnets is the unproductive dramaof solipsism, fruitless engagements with the self from which the poet cries to be released. From this solipsism comes the pride which exhorts God to action, and which, of course, God does not respond to, as the poet himself realizes: "But who am I, that dare dispute with thee / 0 God?" Beyond the assertions of personality lies the one God in whom, hopefully, all individuality will be subsumed-—not so much through an act of grace perhaps, as through an act of forgetting: That thou remember them, some claime as debt, I thinke it mercy, if thou wilt forget. (IX, p.8, 11.13-14) A further dramatic quality might be found in the elements of formal meditation in the sonnets* Martz describes as the essential process of all meditative poetry, "the interaction between a projected, dramatized part of the seIf, and the whole mind of the 12 meditative man." It seems clear, however, that in many of the sonnets where the figure of Christ is absent, there is no real interaction at all, because the "whole mind" is fragmented. They depict, in fact, the dangers of subjectivity which constantly attend those engaged in the "inward search." The "dramatic reconciliation of two selves, of actor and mind," which Martz 13 . discovers in the sestets of the "Holy Sonnets," is not, I think, to be found there. We can be led by the logic of the 34 sonnet form itself to expect a reconciliation, if not between "actor" and "mind," then possibly between self and God. Such is our accustomed habit in reading sonnets to expect a resolution in the couplet that we can easily mistake the direction most often taken in the sestets of these particular sonnets—not a moving forward to reconciliation, but a further widening of the gap. So also, the power of the speaking voice can distract us from the actual process of disintegration the words describe. The "little worId made cunningly" be come s by ironic inversion a symbol of the utmost disorder. We are finally led to under stand that, in the most extreme of these sonnets, nothing is what it seems to be: Oh, to vex me, contraryes meete in one: Inconstancy unnaturally hath begott A constant habit• (XIX, p. 15* 11.1-3) In this sonnet the antitheses are powerful enough to threaten even the syntactic order, and when this happens, all sense of logical subordination seems to disappear: As humorous is my contritione As my prophane love, and as soone forgott: As ridlingly distemperd, cold and hott. As praying, as mute; as infinite, as none. (11.5-8) The third quatrain presents a similar breakdown of the temporal order: 35 I durst not view heaven yesterday; and to day In prayers, and flattering speaches I court God; To morrow I quake with true feare of his rod. (11.9-11) In this terrible telescoping of time and space no reconciliation is possible, and at the end we are left with a weary assertion of the arbitrariness of the isolated self: So my devout fitts come and go away Like a fantastique Ague. (11.12-13) The •dramatization' of the soul's predicament thus leads to no fruitful interaction between "actor" and "mind," or between self and God. The only result of the 'dramatization' is a complete dissolution, conveyed through a disordered time scheme and a fragmented syntax. I have tried to indicate that Donne was able to take the sonnet form to that extreme stage where its logical structure is threatened by the nature of the thought and feeling expressed. Under most circumstances we might think that the result of this tension between form and content would be a bad poem. It is possible, however, that many poems derive much of their effect- iveness from such a tension, which Wylie Sypher identifies as a "mannerist" technique: The poets and dramatists of this era have a logic of their own, a rhetorical and dramatic logic that does not operate by transition and sequence but by circulating through extremes, opposites, and diver- gencies, digesting every sort of experience by putting sudden stress on language and gesture. 36 But it is not just that, as Sypher says, "the psychological effect diverges from the structural logic"15—the sonnet form also contains and restrains, and is analogous to the power of the rational mind to formulate the terms of its own restriction* But once its essential characteristics of logical development and resolution within an evolving time scheme have been abandoned, it cannot, of its own, provide a satisfying order to counteract the disorder within. ' II If in the majority of the "Holy Sonnets" the logical develop- ment suggested by the sonnet form is at variance with the poet's inner conflict, in the rest of the Divine Poems these antagonisms are not so evident. Two different kinds of ordering principles can be observed, and in neither of them is an established form subjected to the kind of strain we find in the second group of sonnets. "La Corona" and "A Litanie" are poems of a less personal, more liturgical nature. Their basic structure is not that of an argument proceeding from certain premises to certain conclusions, but rather that of repetition of words, phrases and invocations. If in the majority of the "Holy Sonnets" the rational process fails to bring about the desired result, in the repetitions of formal prayer are found other means to dispose the soul toward God and God toward the soul. And so we find in "La Corona" and "A Litanie" a harmony with God which in the "Holy Sonnets" is only rarely experienced. "La Corona" differs most from the "Holy Sonnets" in that here the individual sonnets are linked by first and last lines to form a unified whole- —as Martz says, "properly speaking, there 16 are no individual sonnets." The linking of each in a sequence naturally reinforces the sequence of events in Christ's life which the poems describe. But more than this, the final joining of the last sonnet to the first to form a complete circle expresses the perfect fulfillment of Christ* s death and resurrection, whereby the poet also may come to "salute the last and everlasting day." It will be seen that the structure of "La Corona," at once sequential and circular, introduces a concept of time very different from that of the "Holy Sonnets," and thus there is a different inner development. In many of the "Holy Sonnets," particularly I, IV, V, VII, XIII, XIV and XIX, past and future come together as in a nightmare, producing remorse and fear as the poet finds himself seemingly isolated from the redemptive pattern. Here, beginning and end are fused in an eternal, transcending present: 38 The ends crowne our workes, but thou crown8 st our ends. For, at our end begins our endlesse rest; The first last end, now zealously possest. (1, p.2, 11.9-11) Thus, while the fifth sonnet speaks of those who crucified Christ as "Measuring self-lifes infinity to'a span, / Nay to an inch," in terms that recall "this last pace, / My spans last inch, my minutes latest point" of Holy Sonnet VI, we are never thele ss aware that the least moment in time contains within it, in fruitful paradox, all eternity. The chronological sequence of events is only the manifestation on earth of the greater mystery which imbues each part with the whole. Thus is the Virgin addressed in the Annunciation sonnet: Ere by the spheares time was created, thou Wast in his minde, who is thy Sonne, and Brother. (2> p.2, 11.9-10) As with time, so with space: "Immensity cloysterd in thy dear wombe" links second and third sonnets, and at the Nativity it is the eye of faith which sees "how he / Which fils all place, yet none holds him, doth lye." The destructive paradoxes of the "Holy Sonnets" arise from the irreconcilability of the finite and the infinite, of seIf and God; the constructive paradoxes of "La Corona" arise from the coming together of finite and infinite in each separate event, and this coming together is conveyed in the most direct way by the overall interlocking pattern. Such a pattern does not allow for 39 a traditional development within each sonnet. There are no sharply juxtaposed quatrains, and there is no sense of anti- thesis or complement between octet and sestet—each sonnet moves forward smoothly and without disruption to its concluding couplet. Only in the sixth sonnet(Resurrection) do we find, in the first six lines, a certain unevenness as the obdurate soul awaits release: Movst with one drop of thy blood, my dry soule Shall (though she now be in extreme degree Too stony hard, and yet too fleshly,) bee Freed by that drop, from being starv* d, hard, or foule. And life, by this death abled, shall controule Death, whom thy death slue. (6, p.4, 11.1-6) From this point to the end of the sequence there is an unbroken upward movement, culminating in the triple invocation of the seventh sonnet: 0 strong Ramme, which hast batter'd heaven for mee, Milde lambe, which with thy blood, hast mark'd the path; Bright Torch, which shin* st, that I the way may see. (7, p.5, 11.9-11) One might contrast these emphatic parallel statements with the somewhat similar opening of Holy Sonnet XIV: "Batter my heart, three person1d God; for, you / As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend." Although in these lines the Trinity is directly invoked, the antitheses which dominate the sonnet's structure suggest, if not a fragmented God, at least a God who has not fulfilled Himself in time and space. He has "as yet" 40 been too gentle to pierce the stony heart. But at the end of "La Corona" it is emphasized that Christ himself was the fulfillment, and combined within his Per son all the qualities of gentleness and strength, the "lairibe" and the "Ramme," which are opposed in the sound and structure of the first quatrain of the other sonnet. The idea of the Incarnation dominates "La Corona," as it does the first group of Holy Sonnets (IV, XI, XII, XV), but in a different way. In those sonnets Christ is, in structural terms, the logical resolution of the doubts and questions raised at the beginning of each poem, and the end towards which each was moving. In "La Corona" there is literally no end. As Donne indicates throughout, the whole is implied in each part, and Christ is the beginning of the argument as well as the end. "A Litanie," though a meditative exercise like "La Corona," shows a quite different use of the techniques of repetition. It is not only a longer poem, but also much more diffuse, and the interlocking pattern and internal cross-referencing of "La Corona" are notably absent. Somewhat paradoxically, "A Litanie" has a much more episodic effect than the chronologically arranged events of "La Corona." The twenty-eight stanzas can be made to fall into several larger groupings, following the structure of 17 the litany, but Donne seems deliberately to lessen the effects 41 of liturgical formality by varying the responses and rearranging in many small but important ways the wording in the concluding couplet of each stanza: "deliver us," for example, occurs in almost every possible position, and is sometimes replaced by a parallel construction such as "heare us." These variations make the work much more interesting poetically, but they do not change the essential nature of the litany, and of all his religious poems this is the most formal. Even so, while Isolated passages stand out, they do not seem to fit in to any larger whole. In fact, the discrepancy between individual parts and overall structure arises from much the same kind of discrepancy we have examined in many of the sonnets, between what we have come to expect of a certain form and the way in which Donne actually uses it. Helen Gardner says of "A Litanie:" The contrast between the simple traditional outline of the poem and the intricacies of the separate stanzas is the formal expression of the poem"s ambiguity. It appears impersonal, but is, in fact, highly personal.18 This kind of ambiguity, arising from the use of certain poetic or liturgical forms in a very personal and, in a sense, anti- traditional way, is often a source of great strength in Donne* s poems. The most powerful of the "Holy Sonnets" are the ones in which this ambiguity is strongest—no device could more powerfully 42 reflect the poet's state of mind in, for example. Holy Sonnet XIX. But if it is not entirely successful in "A Litanie," the reason is that traditional outline and individual parts are not really reacting with each other at all, either in harmony, as in "La Corona," or in opposition, as in many of the "Holy 19 Sonnets." It seems evident that Donne was at this stage more interested in the possibilities of the nine-line irregular stanza than in the overall significance of the form of the litany—and in this respect at least, "A Litanie" is an interesting foreshadowing of later developments in the religious lyric. Donne's use of this particular stanza, however, is perfectly consistent with what is perhaps the main preoccupation in the poem, the search for a balance between the harmful extremes of human behavior. This search is, I feel, not so much the result of any particularly 20 Anglican desire for the via media, as a manifestation of the deep fear of the "Holy Sonnets" that contrary states of mind, as in Holy Sonnet XIX, somehow reinforce each other and build up between them too thick a wall for God to penetrate. We have seen how Donne's antithetical verbal structures can convey just this impenetrable barrier of contraries; but in "A Litanie," as in "La Corona," the emphasis is on "That harmony, which made of two / One law, and did unite,but not confound" (p.19, 11.66-67). 43 I ' Where antithetical structures are present, their polarizing effect is diminished, first by the alternation of four- and five-stress lines, and second by our anticipation in each stanza of the closing supplication which resolves and rounds off with a couplet the sometimes discursive development of the preceding line s: Prom being anxious, or secure, Dead clods of sadnesse, or light squibs of mirth. From thinking, that great courts immure All, or no happinesse, or that this earth Is only for our prison fram'd. Or that thou art covetous To them whom thou lov*st, or that they are maim'd From reaching this worlds sweet, who seek thee thus, With all their might. Good Lord deliver us. (p. 21, 11.127-135) The closing imprecations are, as a result of the nature of the litany itseIf, quite different from the agonized imperatives of the "Holy Sonnets," just as the opposed states of mind, as described in the first half of this stanza, are hypothetical possibilities rather than actualities presently experienced. All of these factors give to the poem its appropriately detached, ritual quality, its sense of speaking, like the sermons, for all mankind rather than just for the writer himself. Within this setting the kind of development which we see later in Herbert*s, Vaughan* s and Traherne* s use of the irregular stanza is not possible. For this kind of stanza was to become the natural vehicle for the most per sonal kind of meditation; in "A Litanie," 44 however, the personal, subjective tone is deliberately muted, as when the poet, invoking the Prophets, prays That I by them excuse not my excesse In seeking secrets, or Poetiquenesse. (p.19, 11.71-72) But it is not Donne's characteristic method in his religious poetry to avoid excess, or even to apologize for it. It is doubtful whether the cultivation of "meane waies," as a poetic principle at least, would ever have resulted in the kind of poetry we see in Donne at his best—poetry in which extremes of feeling are subjected to the restraints of form, there to find their resolution or not, depending on the particular poem. In the case of the more formal religious exercises like "La Corona" and "A Litanie" the forms offer no real restraints because there are no real conflicts. The 'resolution,1 owing to the pattern of repetition which in each case is established early, is apparent in the form to begin with, and this seems not to have given Donne the kind of poetic impetus which he best responded to—the initial statement of a problem the resolution of which must be fought for with all the resources of emotion and intellect. The "Holy Sonnets" provided him with one kind of appropriate form—short, compressed, and in Donne's hands variable and unpredictable, but above all full of a feeling of energy, movement, and even of discovery. The same might be 45 said of the third important group of poems, comprising "Upon the Annunciation and Passion falling upon one day. 1608" and "Goodfriday, 1613. Riding Westward." The length of these two poems is not restricted by any formal necessity, and Donne extends his sequence of couplets to whatever length his subject demands. The greater freedom which this allows him has the initial effect of reducing that tension between form and subject matter which has been noted in many of the "Holy Sonnets," while at the same time giving him the opportunity for a fuller development of subsidiary themes. But more important in these poems is the way in which the structural basis shifts from that of a predetermined form such as sonnet or litany, to an actual occasion described within the poem itself. The subject matter of these poems is in general the same as that of the sonnets. The gulf that separates man and God, the mystery of the Incarnation, the paradoxes that arise from man's divided nature, the struggle of the self to enter into community with the Divine—these preoccupations remain constant, but here they are embodied in a central situation, or a central symbol, which governs the whole movement of the poem. The nature of this central situation or symbol might be deduced from those sonnets whose resolution is found in the image of Christ. It will draw 46 together all that is contrary* and will give an eternal significance to a specific event in a specific time and place. The "Annunciation and Passion" provides perhaps the clearest example of this kind of situation, but it is on the whole a static poem, showing little sense of personal involvement, apart from the rather flat concluding couplet addressed to the soul. The intellectual concentration of its lines is remarkable, but achieved at the expense of the forward movement that we find in "La Corona," that other "Abridgement of Christs story." The situation, that of the coincidence of two mysteries in the church calendar, would appear to lend itself admirably to Donne* s kind of meditative speculation—too admirably perhaps, since in this case the speculation takes on a certain mechanical quality. But this may be the result of the "accidental" nature of the occasion itself, one in which the poet himself remains essentially uninvolved. The occasion given, it can be elaborated on, and its implications drawn out and repeated, but it cannot be made the center of a complex and evolving action with which the poet is fully identified. The essential difference in the handling of a central •occasion0 can be seen when the "Annunciation and Passion" and "Goodfriday, 1613" are placed next to each other. The two 47 formally similar poems are linked by their meter, by their use of situation, and by imagery derived from astronomy, navigation, the Nativity, the Crucifixion, and contemplation of the Virgin; but only in the latter poem does Donne's full power emerge. We note first of all the dominant sense of purpose, of movement in time and space toward some as yet unidentified goal. The speculation of the opening lines combines abstract hypothesis with the physical movement suggested by an accelerating series of verbs ("be," "moves," "hurried," "whirId") which change from active to passive in preparation for the couplet which focuses all the cosmic activity of the opening on the solitary form of the poet himself: Hence is't, that I am carryed towards the West This day, when my Soules forme bends toward the East. (p. 30, 11.9-10) The movement so far has been rhythmically regular, carrying us Inward to the central situation through long vowels and balanced, even couplets. This movement ceases with the first description of the Crucifixion: There I should see a Sunne, by rising set, And by that setting endlesse day beget; But that Christ on this Crosse, did rise and fall, Sinne had eternally benighted all. (p. 31, 11.11-14) The lateral breadth of the opening hypothesis is now replaced by the vertical movement suggested by "rise," "set" and "fall," while the multiple puns in these two antithetical couplets establish a verbal density which brings us close to the structural center of the poem. Here Donne allows us a brief rest from the "spectacle of too much weight," as he ponders the question of whether the human soul can bear this weight. But the inward movement is resumed, and with one isolated and magnificent couplet we are at the exact center of the poem: Could I behold those hands which span the Poles, And turne all spheares at once, peirc'd with those holes? (p.31, 11.21-22) Here the image s and rhythm of the opening section of the poem (11.1-10) are combined with the paradoxes of the second section (11.11-14) to provide a focal point and resolution. In Holy Sonnets IV,XI, XII and XV, the same focal point and resolution occurs in the final couplet, as we would expect, but in this poem there is a second, counterbalancing section which constitutes a movement away from the center• For only at that center, at the Crucifixion itself, did the various orders of time and space become fused in one perfect, simultaneous turning of all the spheres in harmony. Now these orders become once again separate and distinct, and again we become aware of the poet riding westward, away from Calvary. At the same time the attention shifts, slightly, from God's apparel, "rag'd, and torne," to Christ's mother beside the cross. But the inescapable nature of 49 that central vision, once established, persists until the end? even as the rider turns his back on Christ, the picture of Calvary remains burned in the memory. The ninth line from the end ("Though these things, as I ride, be from mine eye") echoes the ninth from the beginning ("Hence is't, that I am carryed towards the West"), but introduces in the last section of the poem a new personal intensity quite different from the expansive opening, and reminiscent in tone of Holy Sonnet XIV: 0 thinke mee worth thine anger, punish mee,' Burne off my rusts, and my deformity. Restore thine Image, so much, by thy grace. That thou may* st know mee, and I'11 turne my face. (p.31, 11.39-42) But the effect of these lines is very different from the "breake, blowe, burne and make me new" of the sonnet. For the controlling symbol of "Goodfriday, 1613", the crucified and the risen Christ, is present at the very heart of the poem, anticipated in the inward movement of the first part, remembered in the outward movement of the second. The Incarnation and the Redemption, so notably absent from the sonnet, control the very structure of "Goodfriday, 1613," and it is the immensity of Christ* s presence, not his absence, which underlies the anguish of the closing line. It is a measure of the poem's subtlety that despite its structural symmetry and the centrality of its controlling figure. 50 the note of anguish becomes increasingly apparent as the poem progresses. It establishes, imperceptibly at first, its own rising movement. We see the first intimations of disorder in the "forraigne motions" of the fourth line? then in the convulsions which shook the world at the time of Christ's death and in the ragged and torn flesh? and finally in the mounting violence of the concluding lines. Working counter to the unifying figure of Christ which the poet has depicted so eloquently at the center of the poem, is the obduracy of the self, refusing in its timidity and its perversity to admit Christ, and fleeing in the opposite direction. Against the mutilation of Christ* s body, paradoxical symbol of the complete- ness of the Redemption, must be seen the "deformity" of the soul which will not act upon what it knows, and is thus denied completion, cut off from the restoring image by its own rusts. Thus in direct contrast to the opening lines, the concluding lines are harsh and disruptive. Their relation to the central perfectly balanced couplet ("Could I behold those hands which span the Poles, / And turne all spheares at once, peirc'd with those holes?") might be compared to the relation between the perfect order which the soul apprehends, and the soul*s own disorder. Donne's mastery of the couplet allows him, in these forty-two lines unbroken by stanza or paragraph division, to convey both the harmony of man and God, and the division between them. 51 III For the most complete account of these complexities of harmony and division we must turn finally to the Anniversaries, where for the only time in Donne's religious poetry a vision capable of reconciling all disparities is fully developed. One might begin by considering the way in which the Anniversaries, taken together, combine the different formal principles which have so far been examined in the Divine Poems. Like the "Holy Sonnets" they are made up of juxtaposed parts which are often in formal and thematic opposition to each other? like "La Corona" and "A Litanie" they also have strong links with patterns of formal religious observance—in this case the meditation and the sermon; and like the "Annunciation and Passion" and "Goodfriday, 1613" they are written in couplets and contain a powerful central figure. Above all, when they are taken together the poems show Donne's most successful attempt to combine antithetical structures with unifying resolutions. Thus any study of the formal unity of the Anniversaries must take into account a number of different considerations. The main emphasis must, I think, be placed on the central figure of Elizabeth Drury, whose death the poems celebrate, and it is in their relation to this figure that the different formal aspects of the Anniversaries will be considered. The distinct parts into which each poem is divided do not at first appear to be as logically connected as the quatrains and couplet, or the octet and sestet, of a sonnet. Spread over a much greater length, and punctuated by the same repeated statement that she is dead, the first set of meditations on the death of Elizabeth Drury seems to be a series of variations on the one theme, the sickness of this world now that she who could give it order and health has gone. In the same way, we may tend to think of the second poem as basically a repetition in kind of the first, following on from Donne's own declared intention in the second poem, "Yearely to bring forth such a child as this." Yet a definite sequence links the two poems in a non-repetitive way. The same sequence also binds together internally the separate sections of each poem. I will examine the separate sections first. The sequence within each section, as analysed by Louis 21 Martz, consists of meditation, eulogy, and refrain and moral, with refrain and moral largely omitted in the second poem. The syllogistic nature of this sequence becomes apparent if we think of it as consisting of first, a general statement or observation concerning the decayed state of the worId; second, a statement concerning the particular saving virtues of she who is now dead and departed to a new world; third, an application of her example 53 to the world, and to the individual soul, that it might pattern itself on her and regain, if not its lost purity, at least self-knowledge: This new world may be safer, being told The dangers and diseases of the old: For with due temper men doe them forgoe, 22 Or couet things, when they their true worth know. But as these lines indicate, it is not sufficient merely that the example or "moral" be given. We know from the "Holy Sonnets" that even though the soul clearly sees the disparity between the real and the ideal, the corrupt and the pure, it may be unwilling or unable to act upon its knowledge. The result in many of the sonnets is an impasse, a fruitless paradox. The importance of acting upon the knowledge provided in the meditations and the eulogies is stressed throughout the Anniversaries, and becomes, in fact, a key to an understanding of the entire work. The theme of necessary action is first conveyed to the reader, deceptively enough, in two parenthetical statements at the beginning of the Anatomy: all men who possess a soul celebrate the soul of Elizabeth Drury: (For who is sure he hath a Soule, vnlesse It see, and Iudge, and follow worthinesse. And by Deedes praise it? D C A) (11.3-5) Since she is gone, the world is perplexed, but it still must act 54 (Because since now no other way there is But goodnes? to see her, whom all would see. All must endeuour to be good as shee) (11.16-18) any actions now bring about the regeneration of a world? Donne's answer at first seems equivocal. On hand he says: But though it be too late to succour thee, Sicke world, yea dead, yea putrified, since shee Thy* ntrinsique balme, and thy preseruatiue. Can neuer be renew'd, thou neuer liue, (11. 55—58) yet on the other hand, and paradoxically by her very death, a new worId has been created: The twi-light of her memory doth stay; Which, from the carcasse of the old worId, free. Creates a new worId; and new creatures be Produc'd: the matter and the stuffe of this. Her uertue, and the forme our practise is. (11.74-78) Donne makes his distinction here clear: an old, corrupt worId died at the death of Elizabeth Drury, while a new world was 23 created. The couplet already quoted sums up the idea: This new world may be safer, being told The dangers and diseases of the old. (11.87-88) This new world, however, while its matter is her "uertue," must be given shape and form by "our practise." It is this "practise" which is outlined in the "moral," or application, of each separate section. But can corrupt the one 55 A brief examination of any of the separate sections of the Anatomy will serve to show the pattern which all follow, and which Donne has emphasized in the introduction. In the section on the dullness of the world(11.339-376) we have a meditation of twenty-two lines on the fading of color and beauty in the old world, an eight-line eulogy on she who was the source of all color, and an eight-line refrain and application which refer forward, to the "new worId." Thus we have an inner structure which embodie s a forwar d movement in 24 . time. The essential continuity is provided by the figure of Elizabeth Drury, whose "uertue" is described in the central eulogy. This "uertue," which existed incarnate in the old worId, continues in the new, but it must now be given form by our own actions—actions which must be free of that deceit by which the old world died: Tis now but wicked vanity to thinke To color vitious deeds with good pretence, • Or with bought colors to illude mens sense. (11.374-376) The sections in The Progres of the Soule do not follow quite the same pattern, as Martz points out.26 The refrain and the moral seem to have disappeared. This is not, of course, because the world is now remade and pure, and hence in no need of instruction. Rather, the instruction takes a different form, a form which relates directly to the different. though complementary, nature of the second poem. The first thing we should notice is that the refrain of the Anatomy has not disappeared completely, but has changed. In six of the seven sections of the Progress,, always within four lines of the end, the same phrase occurs, with only minor variations. At the end of the first section it appears as "Shee, shee is gone; she is gone" (1.81), thus establishing its close relationship with the refrain of the Anatomy, "Shee, she is dead, shee's dead." In subsequent sections it occurs with various interposed elements such as "Shee, shee, thus richly, and largely hous'd, is gone" (1.247), or with other minor changes, such as "Shee, shee doth leaue it" (1.379), or "Shee to Heauen is gone" (1.467). Changes in wording do not alter the meaning apparent at the end of each of the sections. Our attention is drawn to the future state of the soul of Elizabeth Drury once it has left this world. In the Anatomy we are not told of this future state—-only that "Shee, shee is dead." Nor, in the applications of her death to us in the new world, are we told specifically how we are to act, but rather how we are not to act—the "morals" are in fact prohibitions based essentially on the contemptus mundi of which her life on earth was the best example. But if the new world is defined in the Anatomy only in terms of its opposition to the old, in the 57 Progress its nature is clearly and positively described in the eulogies themselves. This new world is no mere con- tinuation of the old; it is rather a complete transcendence of it, and it is towards such a transcendence that our actions must be directed. The fourth section, dealing with knowledge in this life and the next, furnishes a clear example. The opening meditation of forty-four lines (11.251-94) begins by emphasizing the change from old world to new: But t'were but little to haue chang*d our roome. If, as we were in this our liuing Tombe Oppress*d with ignorance, we still were so. (11.251-253) There follows a detailed account of the restrictions on our knowledge in the old worId: What hope haue we to know our selues, when wee Know not the least things, which for our vse bee? (11.279-280) Then, at the beginning of the eulogy, our vantage point is suddenly changed: But vp vnto the watch-towre get. And see all things despoyld of fallacies: Thou shalt not peepe through lattices of eies, Nor heare through Laberinths of eares, nor learne By circuit, or collections to discerne. In Heauen thou straight know* st all, concerning it, And what concerns it not, shall straight forget. (11.294-300) Our virtuous actions now are clear: they are to be imitations of her one action, even though they cannot equal it. Those 58 living in the new world will understand That aie the vertuous Actions they expresse. Are but a new, and worse edition. Of her some one thought, or one action. (11.308-310) The new world, then, is to be modeled on the heavenly world where Elizabeth Drury' s soul now lives and moves. Thus in the different sections of the Progress there is no need of moral or application--the virtuous action which such a moral or application would point to has already been described in the eulogy. The greater feeling of integration that we derive from the Progress can be partly explained by this two-part structure replacing the three-part structure of the Anatomy. But more important perhaps is the closer identity between the soul of Elizabeth Drury and "my Soule" to whom most of the second poem is addressed—nor does the title of the poem make clear which soul the poet has in mind. It is not just a matter of Donne*s imaginative projection of himself in the figure of Elizabeth Drury—though there are strong elements of this, particularly in the more bravura passages. Rather, the individual soul finds its ultimate possible development in the soul of Elizabeth Drury, omnipresent since its release from the prison of the old world. Donne spoke, in the introduction of the Anatomy, of our need to give, in our "practise," new 59 form to her "uertue;" how this is to be done is made finally clear in the concluding lines of the section. She is gone, but in the triumph of her going, cals vs after her, in that shee tooke, (Taking her selfe) our best, and worthiest booke. (11.319—320) The structure of the individual sections of each poem depends upon the idea of transition—from old world to new, from earth to heaven—with Elizabeth Drury signifying both a lost perfection in the backward-looking Anatomy, and a perfection still to be found in the forward-looking Progress. The two poems taken as a whole reflect the movement that occurs in their separate parts. Though the sections in each poem repeat the same pattern, one cannot read the Anniversar ie s without becoming aware of the way in which they are linked by a sense of great movement in time and space. This development, which has been examined as it works within the separate sections, is clearly at work also in the actual titles of the poems. The Anatomy as a whole might be regarded as one long meditation, embodying a downward movement into the very core of death and corruption; the Progress as one long eulogy, embodying an upward movement into the realm of heaven. The turning point is reached at the beginning of the Progress^ in the extraordinary description of the beheaded man whose soul sails out upon seas of blood, leaving the body to its 60 frantic parody of movement and life: Though at those two Red seas, which freely ran. One from the Trunke, another from the Head, His Soule be saild, to her eternall bed. His eies will twinckle, and his tongue will roll. As though he beckned, and cal'd backe his Soul, He graspes his hands, and he puis vp his feet. And seemes to reach, and to step forth to meet His soule. (11.10-17) At this point begins the slow upward movement, the piecing together anew of the broken body of the world. The "glimmering light" once perceived from the deathbed, Thinke thy selfe laboring now With broken breath. And thinke those broken and soft Notes to bee Diuision, and thy happiest Harmonee. (11.90-92) The progress continues, the soul to whom the poem is addressed identifying itself more and more with the soul of Elizabeth Drury. The passage describing the upward flight (11.179-218) is one of the most remarkable examples of Donne's ability to visualize in space and time a process which transcends both: But ere shee can consider how shee went. At once is at, and through the Firmament. (11.205-206) Such striking images of movement as the free-flying bullet and the "speed vndistinguish'd" that strings the spheres together like beads are the means "To'aduance these thoughts" by which the soul of Elizabeth Drury and the soul of the speaker are brought into such close identity: "This must, my soule, thy long-short Progresse bee." The essential movement in the second poem is always upward to perfection—-an effect most clearly seen in the repeated use of the preposition in the passage beginning "Vp vp, my drowsie soule, where thy new eare / Shall in the Angels songs no discord heare" (11.339-40). This upward movement is the key to an understanding of the action which must clothe, in the new world, the abiding "uertue" of Elizabeth Drury; it is in fact the "practise" which Donne set forth as a necessity at the beginning of the Anatomy. Thus, the two poems taken together demonstrate the same structure that governs the individual 27 sections of each—the translation of knowledge into act. Only by knowledge of the old world which, though dead, is the center of attention in the Anatomy, can we proceed to the free, pure and unlimited action of the soul in the new worId, which is the center of attention in the Progress. I have tried to indicate that the two poems are themse1ves a formal embodiment of the process Donne outlines at the begin- ning of the work, and that they are a unified whole, by virtue of their structure and the central figure of Elizabeth Drury. Yet the Anniversaries continue to mystify, and the mystery seems to center on the symbolic identity of the central figure, who has been variously identified as Queen Elizabeth, the Church of England, Christ, the Virgin, Astrea, Wisdom and Logos—or as some 62 kind of combination of all. I do not believe the question of identity can ever be satisfactorily answered; but it is possible that the question itself is misleading, at least in so far as it attempts to find a fixed definition and explanation for the central figure. Rosalie Colie observes: ...when all the separate explications and interpret- ations are added up, the Anniversary Poems prove to be more than the sum of their parts. They hold in balance many oppositions and contradictions: they are, in short, paradoxical poems, poems about paradoxes and poems within the paradoxical rhetoric.28 Yet for all the paradoxes that the poems contain, the final effect is not, I feel, one of paradox, but rather of a constant develop- ment toward an affirmative statement of faith. We have seen how, in some of the "Holy Sonnets," the figure of Christ in the sestet reconciles all opposites in the paradox of the Incarnation. For all its centrality, however, the figure of Elizabeth Drury does not fulfill the same function. In a way which would not be possible with the Christ of the sonnets, Elizabeth Drury is an invented and manipulated figure. I do not mean to imply by this that Donne strains our credulity in making such a paragon of a child he hardly knew, or in weighing her down with so much symbolic meaning. Rather, I believe Donne intends us to go beyond Elizabeth Drury to the poetic act that embodies her, as she embodied all virtue. For if our actions are to give shape and form to virtue, as Donne claimed at the beginning, then these two 63 poems are just such an act. The Anniversaries are finally a celebration not so much of Elizabeth Drury as of the creative power of the soul itself, and particularly of the power of the poet who interprets and prophesies and gives form to the highest truth. In no other of his poems does Donne refer to this idea of the poet; in the Anniversaries, however, the true poetic function is quite clearly alluded to, and dominates the conclusion of the work. As the underlying movement of the two poems is prefigured at the beginning of the Anatomy, so is their nature as poetic creations. There we find that Elizabeth Drury first gave order to the worId: "Her name defin'd thee, gaue thee forme and frame" (li37). But the clear outline faded as the world grew sick and corrupt, and with her death that order was lost: But this is worse, that thou art speechlesse growne® Thou hast forgot thy name, thou hadst; thou wast Nothing but she, and her thou hast o'repast. (11.30-32) It is now for the poet in his own way to repeat the act of Eliza- beth Drury and to give to the new world a pattern and form, in his celebration of her who gave pattern and form to the old worId. For the poet, as much as Elizabeth Drury, is "A Prince, expected long, come to fulfill / The Ceremonies" (11.34-35). And since each year a new poem is to be written, so, at the beginning of the Progress, Donne refers to the future offspring of the 64 original creative act: Immortal Mayd, who though thou wouldst refuse The name of Mother, be vnto my Muse, A Father since her chast Ambition is, Yearely to bring forth such a child as this. (11.33-36) Thus the poems, now described by the poet as hymns, are to be a perpetual celebration and re-creation of the name which the new world, through the poet's art, will not forget: These Hymns thy issue, may encrease so long. As till Gods great Venite change the song. (11.43-44) As these lines suggest, the creative act, whether of Elizabeth Drury in the old worId or of John Donne in the new, is finally to be traced back to the will of God, and Donne at the end of the Progress re-establishes the context in which Elizabeth Drury, the poet, and the poems themselves, are to be seen: But thou wouldst not; nor wouldst thou be content. To take this, for my second yeeres true Rent, Did this Coine beare any other stampe, then his. That gaue thee power to doe, me, to say this. (11.519-522) It might be argued that Donne is simply attempting here to bring back into a more orthodox framework a poem which to many people has seemed constantly to verge on the unorthodox, even the blasphemous. But the structure and essential nature of the work, as outlined by the poet at the beginning of each poem and implied throughout,, has led inevitably to the triumphant 65 conclusion, where neither Elizabeth Drury nor the poet himself is the originator of the original creative act, but both are instruments of it: Thou art the Proclamation; and I ame The Trumpet, at whose voice the people came. (11.527-528) We have come a long way from the death and fragmentation of the old world to this reuniting in the new of matter and form, proclamation and trumpet, poet and people. In this new unity we find a counterpart to the formal and thematic disunity of the "Holy Sonnets," themselves part of the old world, now transcended. Such a unity cannot be imposed. It can only grow from a poem which is itseIf a unified whole, a fitting embodiment of the message it conveys. The scope and ambition of the Anniversaries are equalled only by the formal skill 29 which went into their making. All of the religious poetry so far discussed shows Donne's intimate concern with form as an expression in itself of religious feeling. Whatever conclusions we may reach concerning the nature of his attitude towards God, with its elements of humility and pride, rebellion and submission, certainly these poems are controlled by a tight structure which is able to contain and give order to all manner of opposing elements. With the possible exception of those poems based on a liturgical series 66 of repetitions, the nature of this structure is essentially logical, moving from premises to conclusions, and from conclusions to postulated future action. Sometimes, as in the "Holy Sonnets," the conclusions are contradictory and no action is possible—-the form here imposes an order fundamentally opposed to the conflict within the poem. At other times the order comes from an organizing principle within the poem itself, from some complex and unifying symbol such as the crucified and risen Christ, or Elizabeth Drury, and it is this symbol, rather than a prescribed convention, which dictates the shape and movement of the poem. In these poems the form expresses an order already present in the subject of the poem. But in either case antithetical elements are always present, due perhaps to Donne!s constant awareness of the great distance between the real and the ideal and between individual soul and God. The harmonious resolution of the Anniversaries is all the more effective for its being rooted in an uncompromising demonstration of that distance. In the relationship between the two Anniversar ie s, between the octet and sestet of the sonnets, between the two lines of the couplet, we see Donne drawn constantly towards the principle of resolution through opposites. At the same time, what gives Donne* s religious poetry much of its force and conviction is the 67 unifying forward impetus of the voice it se if—def ining, questioning, imploring, prophesying, but all the time pushing on toward greater knowledge of the God who is at once so close and so far away. It is this voice which so often seems to disrupt the prosodic order, to impose itself on and even to obliterate the poetic structure—until we realize that it is also the means whereby the intricate inner balances and paradoxes can be made to yield the true prophetic statement, such as we find at the end of the Anniver sar ie s„ In other words, the balances and paradoxes of analysis provide the necessary means for the final synthesis. It is here that we find the probable reason for Donne's avoidance, in his religious poetry, of the more loose and irregular verse forms of his secular poems. The latitude of the Songs and Sonets, the Satyres and the Elegies allows him to combine seriousness with sophistry, cynicism, bawdiness and irreverence. But the seriousness of the religious poetry lies in its greater commitment to truth and virtuous action, and this is conveyed in the poems by the stricter and more rigorous verse forms. The only notable exception occurs in the three late hymns. These are poems of leavetaking, poems in which the problems of virtuous action in a corrupt world seem finally to be taken out of the poet"s hands. Neither the anguish of frustrated will nor 68 the joy of the creative act is present. There is a sense of closeness to God found nowhere else in the religious poetry, and it is not surprising that in these poems the tension of opposites is absent. Even in "A Hymne to God the Father" the questions and answers which seem in the first two stanzas to suggest great disparity between the poet® s sins and God"s willingness to forgive, merge in the third stanza in an evocation of the Son, and in the quiet conclusion, "I feare no more." The harmony which Donne seeks in the other poems and finds in such figures as Christ and Elizabeth Drury seems to be achieved already in these poems of acceptance and resignation, as the poet himself becomes, in his consciousness, the center of all things. No longer divided within himself, his soul is free now to expand. He can ask in "Hymne to God my God, in my sicknesse:" Is the Pacifique Sea my home? Or are The Easterne riches? Is Jerusalem? Anvang and Magellan, and Gibraltare, All streights, and none but streights, are wayes to them, Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Cham, or Sem. (p.50, 11.16-20) The structure of the poem is not so much logical as associative: when West and East are one, and "both Adams met in me," there is no further need of the tightly disciplined structures and the logical developments of the other poems. In this respect, Donne is pointing the way forward to later developments in metaphysical poetry. 69 In the poems of Herbert, Vaughan and Traherne there is an increasing tendency to abandon a. strict logical development within a strict formal framework, and to adopt looser poetic structures which suggest a new freedom of the soul to escape its worldly confines and become at one with the Creation. This kind of visionary quality is suggested by Donne in the second of the Anniversaries and in the late lyrics, but as an end, not as a beginning. In the later poets the visionary quality becomes more and more a point of departure, to be developed by techniques of repetition, association and elaboration very different from Donne's controlling central figures and his resolution through antithesis. The change in formal principles also signifies a change in the nature of the relationship between individual soul and God. 70 FOOTNOTES 1 The English Lyric from Wyatt to Donne (Princeton, 1967), p.330. 2 p.107. 3 The Elizabethan Love Sonnet (London, 1956), p.26. 4 p.172. 5 John Donne: The Divine Poems^ ed. Helen Gardner (Oxford, 1952). While following Miss Gardner* s text, I have in the interests of simplicity retained the familiar Grierson numbers, given by Miss Gardner in parenthesis at the end of each sonnet. All page references are to the above edition. 6 p.275. The specific form the reasoning process takes naturally varies from poet to poet, and from sonnet to sonnet. But in general we find a three-part argument, consisting of a statement of a problem or hypothesis, presentation of a further inference which often modifies the premises of the initial statement, and finally a resolution of the problem or a proving of the hypothesis This is the pattern of argument in most of the sonnets in Astrophel and Stella. The initial statement occupies the octet; the presentation of a new inference and the final resolution occupy the sestet, with, as a rule, three lines to each. Each transition in the argument is indicated usually by an initial "but," "therefore," "so," "since," "if," "yet," or "then." Representative examples are X, XV, XXVI, XXVII, XXXIII, XLV, L, LII, LIV, LVI, LXII, LXVI, LXIX, XC, XGIV, XCVII. In Shakespeare* sonnets the pattern is more varied due to the four-part division of the sonnet rather than Sidney* s three-part division. Often, however, the octet forms a unit similar to Sidney's, and the sestet presents a new inference in the quatrain and a final emphatic resolution or paradox in the couplet. But Shakespeare* s divisions are as clear as Sidney's, and his use of "but," "therefore," etc., just as indicative of the logical nature of his argument. Particularly clear examples are XXIX, XXX, XLII, LI, LIV, LXII, LXXII, LXXVI, LXXVIII, LXXXVIII, XCIII, XCVI, XCVIII, CII, CIV, CVI, CX, CXVIII, CXXV, CXXVII, CXXXVIII, CXLVI. 71 7 The Poem of the Mind (New York, 1966), p.4. See also Stanley Archer, "Meditation and the Structure of Donne's •Holy Sonnets,1" ELH, XXVIII (1961), 137-147. Archer disputes Martz* s attribution of the structure of the sonnets to the meditative tradition, as does Douglas L. Peter son in "John Donne* s Holy Sonnets and the Anglican Doctrine of Contr ition," SP, LVI (1959), 504-518. 8 The audacity and power of many of Donne* s conceits may arise from the need to lessen this distance by the forceful bringing together of the images of heaven and earth, a * device* found in almost all Donne* s writings. 9 The Paradise Within (New Haven, 1964), p.48. 10 A comparison with Shakespeare is interesting: Sonnet XXX, for example, with its "sweet silent thought" and its "remembrance of things past;" or LX, with its minutes hastening to•their end "in sequent toil." No matter what damage time may do, Shakespeare* s vision is always of process in time, and almost all his sonnets move forward with this process to the repeated, confident affirmations of process itself transcended by art. In this respect, as determinants of poetic structure, Shakespeare's •art' and Donne* s Christ are analogous, as are the destructive figures of the Dark Lady and the Devil. 11 This is not to deny that many of the Songs and Sonets, for instance, are complex poetical structures within themseIves, but voice and tone are what is first impressed on the reader. Significantly, those of the Songs and Sonets which are closest in tone and feeling to the "Holy Sonnets" are the "Nocturnall upon S.Lucies day" and "Twicknam Garden." Both poems are essentially monologues. 12 The Poem of the Mind, p.7. 13 Ibid., p.6. 14 Four Stages of Renaissance Style (New York, 1955) , p.119. 15 p.127. 16 The Poetry of Meditation (New Haven, 1962) , p.110. 72 17 See Gardner, p.xxviii. 18 p.xxiv. 19 Miss Gardner's explanation is somewhat different: "The form has had to be too much twisted to fit the material, and the material has been moulded to the form rather than expressed by it." (p.xxviii) 20 See Gardner, p.xxvii. 21 The Poetry of Meditation, p.222. 22 John Donne: The Anniver sar ie s ? ed. Frank Manley (Baltimore, 1963), p.70, 11.87-90. All subsequent line references are to this edition. When referring to each poem separately, I will use Anatomy and Progress. 23 For further discussion of the 'new world' see O.B. Hardison, Jr., The Enduring Monument (Chapel Hill, 1962), pp.163-186. The author compares Donne's 'new world' with similar concepts in Dante and Petrarch. 24 Hardison claims that "the most striking fact about the organization of the Anniver sar ie s is their use of topical—i.e. analytical—rather than chronological development" (p.171). This topical development "moves from physical through aesthetic to spiritual aspects of the worId" (p.172). While this kind of development is demon str ably present, it does not, I feel, constitute the main structural principle of the Anniversar ie s; nor, as the author admits, does it explain the inner structure of each section. 25 I hope to have suggested here a possible answer to Martz's claim that one reason for the "failure" of the Anatomy is that it is too rigidly divided into sections and sub-sections, that the transitions are clumsy, and that "the parts will not fuse into an imaginative organism" (p.233). The main reason for his dissatisfaction is, however, the "central inconsistency" regarding the true cause of the decay-of the world (pp.229-232) I believe this incon si stency exists, but I do not feel it affects the structure of the poem. 26 p.237. 73 27 Arnold Stein seems to. have this transition in mind when he speaks of the acute sense of self-consciousness in Donne® s poetry, and the unspoken desire to escape from self-conscious- ness into actionli "For the religious poet consciousness, which characteristically separates and detaches, must also assume the responsibility of integrating the whole man, who5 must act" (John Donne's Lyrics: The Eloquence of Action [Minneapolis, 1962], p.182)„ The author makes the same point in reference to Donne's prosody in "Structures of Sound in Donne's Verse," KR, XIII (1951), 256-278. The Anniversaries show that Donne himself was aware of the problem, going so far as to make this "integration" the major 'cause' of the two poems. 28 Paradoxia Epidemica (Princeton, 1966), p.414. 29 Miss Colie, though proceeding from a different point of view, reaches a similar conclusion: "These poems are a dirge that lies about itself, although like a good paradox it leaves the reader in no doubt about fundamental truth: these poems are a song of triumph, both in God's glory and the art of verse" (p.429). CHAPTER TWO George Herbert I Of all the metaphysical poets, Herbert was the one who was most obviously concerned with poetic form. Unlike Donne and the later poets, who say comparatively little about the nature and function of poetry, Herbert makes continual reference, implicit and explicit, to his art. It is the art of a man in whom the functions of poet and priest are one; it is the art in which the celebration of God and the service to God unite. Donne at the end of the Anniversaries expresses such a concept of poetry. He too is preacher and poet, the voice to which the people come; he too celebrates Elizabeth Drury while rendering to her these annual services of tribute. And more than this, he too pays ultimate tribute in his own 75 creative act to the original creative Act of God. But this is the only place in Donne's religious poetry where such a formu- lation occurs, and even here it is in the nature of a discovery that the great forward progress of the Anniversaries inevitably leads to, rather than a guiding principle throughout. A basic difference between the religious poetry of Donne and Herbert can be found in this 'discovery'. Donne's poems are for the most part explorations of the present moment: we do not feel, as we begin reading them, that we can be altogether certain of the direction they will take. Some of the "Holy Sonnets" end in the reconciling presence of Christ, while others end in despair—but it would be hard to predict the direction from the beginnings of the poems, even if we had read all Donne's other poetry beforehand. There is always in Donne an element of the unexpected—we live through his poems even as he himself lives through them, caught up in their movement and in the immediacy of the poet's speaking voice. In Herbert"s poems, even the most intimate and colloquial, there is a sense of inevitability, of the experience they describe having been lived through already, and reflected on deeply. The greatest pleasure which Herbert offers is not the discovery of new perceptions, new truths, but the discovery of how many ways an old truth may be newly shaped. But if the methods and outcome of Donne's search are unpredictable, its object is clear: harmony of the individual will with the will of God. Herbert's object is the same, but it is for him an experienced reality rather than a goal much longed for but infrequently attained. Donne's methods of analysis and inference serve in many cases only to widen the gap between seIf and God, and the harmony envisioned by the intellect remains unattainable by the unaided will. Herbert is always aware of this possibility of failure, and knows that the revealed truth must find its way through the snares of self-centeredness to become a living reality in the heart. In order that this may occur, Herbert's poetry contains an elaborate system of checks and counter-checks which serves constantly to expose the proneness of the seIf to falling into prideful delusion. At the center of this 'system' lies the principle of imitation: the principle upon which The Temple is built. This principle is found also in Donne's Anniversar ie s, where the salvation of the new world and the individual soul lies in their imitation of that perfect pattern which Elizabeth Drury embodied. And, though perhaps less consciously than in Herbert, the Anniver sar ie s themselves formally constitute such an imitation. But in Herbert the principle of imitation in poetic form is fully articulated, and the visual forms of the poems reflect in a highly conscious manner the multiplicity and harmony of the divine plan. Wherever logical argument and inference are at work in Herbert's poetry, their function is to make more clear the beauty of that plan, which was not just revealed to man at one specific time, but is a continuing reality. That which is to be imitated is all around us. Joseph Summers has described the relationship between the divine plan and the plan of Herbert's poetry as follows: The poet's duty was to perceive and to communicate God"s forms. In the process he would construct out of the chaos of experience and the mass of language another object which would reflect his discovery: literary form as we understand it was but a reflection of that form which was everywhere present, although often hidden to eyes that could not 'see.' It, too, in its material embodiment appealed to man"s senses and moved his affections. The rational contemplation of it should lead to an under standing of its symbolic significance.1 _ Or, as Herbert himself says, then shall our brain All her invention on thine Altar lay. And there in hymnes send back thy fire again. It is the principle of imitation which, consciously applied throughout, makes Herbert's poetry a unified whole. However unified the individual poems of Donne may be, they do not together constitute such a whole: their different methods of organization and their different inner structures do not relate, as those of Herbert* s individual poems do, to a single, over- 78 arching poetic conception. It is with this basic difference in mind that I wish to approach The Temple. 3 The Temple is a complete edifice, raised to the glory of God and consisting of a large number of distinct but related parts. As the separate lines of the first poem in The Church* "The Altar," are shaped into the pattern of an altar, so do the separate poems join as "stones to praise thee," and so do the separate sections. The Church Porch, Superliminare, The Church and The Church Militant, combine in a total symbol of the Christian life. And as the body is the Temple of the Spirit, so are the poems members of that body, joined in praise: Wherefore each part Of my hard heart Meets in this frame, To praise thy Name. ("The Altar," p.26, 11.9-12) But within the "frame" of The Temple is found the greatest possible diversity, and the major problem we face in Herbert is in recon- ciling this diversity with the single poetic conception. The large number of different verse forms is of course our first indication of this diversity—they alone make it virtually impossible to absorb The Temple at one reading. Each poem makes its own demands upon us. Although we soon realize that faith in the revealed truth and in God*s love and justice are in every poem, each poem arrives at this faith from a different starting point in human experience. In this regard Herbert is the most 79 empirical of poets. His poems take their initial departure not from doctrine, but from the diversity of human experience and response. Doctrine and instruction emerge from this diversity, and it is one of the great achievements of Herbert's poetry that the doctrine is clear and persuasive because nothing of life is left out. The voice we hear, the images we see and the rhythms we feel in each particular poem, are those of a particular situation. And there is no human situation, whether rooted in anger and frustration or in simple joy and thankfulness, that cannot be given its own appropriate poetic form and made part of the temple of praise. I believe that, initially. The Temple is best approached from careful study of individual poems and the individual sit- uations they arise from. Such an approach necessarily involves a great deal of selection. If we agree with Summers that "the only justifiable generalization is that every poem required a 4 new beginning, a new form, a new rhythm," then any selection must be somewhat arbitrary, depending on what each individual reader finds most important in Herbert's work. First, I wish to discuss briefly Herbert's own conception of what a poem should be, and to stress again the importance to the poet of th< principle of imitation. Then I wish to examine a number of poems representative of the diversity of The Temple; I have 80 chosen them also to illustrate what I believe to be an important inner development in use of form—a development which does not follow the exact order of the poems but is suggested by it. This inner development reflects Herbert's own "progress of the soul," from its first awareness of Separateness from God, to its final approach to a state of unity. II - • • Certain general formal principles can be applied to all of Herbert's poetry, without our necessarily under standing how they are applied so effectively to each individual poem and the situation which produced it. I have mentioned already the concept of the poem as a gesture of thankfulness, praise and imitation. Certain more definite formal principles can be learned from direct statements about his art in the poems them- selves. The two "Jordan" poems, for instance, tell us of Herbert' disapproval of ornament for its own sake, and of the necessity for form to reflect truth rather than fiction: Is all good structure in a winding stair? May no lines passe, except they do their dutie Not to a true, but painted chair? ("Jordan I," p.56, 11.3-5) 81 The true poet in the service of God must also learn to avoid the beguilements of poetic figures which obscure rather than reveal the brightness of the subject: My thoughts began to burnish, sprout, and swell, Curling with metaphors a plain intention, Decking the sense, as if it were to sell. (" Jordan II," p.102, 11.4-6) Yet "sweet phrases" and "lovely metaphors" need not be avoided, even though Thou art still my God, is all that ye Perhaps with more embellishment can say® ("The Forerunners," p.176, 11.32-33) For "Beautie and beauteous words should go together." But how is the simple yet beautiful directness to be achieved? And can man"s art approach the perfection of that Providence "through whom my fingers bend / To hold my quill?" In "Providence" the poet surveys the harmony of the Creation and is filled with awe at "Thy curious art in marshalling thy goods." He knows that "None can express thy works, but he that knows them: / And none can know thy works" (p.121, 11.142-143). But in imitation of that God who is present in the smallest thing, who is "infinite in one and all," the poet finds that nothing is so small that it cannot serve, without added artifice, to express truth: All things that are, though they have sev'rall wayes, Yet in their being joyn with one advise To honour thee: and so I give thee praise In all my other hymnes, but in this twice. 82 Each thing that is, although in use and name It go for one, hath many wayes in store To honour thee; and so each hymne thy fame Extolleth many wayes, yet this one more. (p.121, 11.145-152) The principle of multiplicity in unity which the poet sees evident all around him must be the principle of his verse. It is not for the poet to set about adorning and complicating that which in itself contains a multiple richness of meaning. This meaning will be lost if the poet insists on imposing on simple things the "thousands of notions" which fill his brain with metaphor and invention. Instead, he must draw out from simple objects and situations their own inner complexities, their own infinite expressiveness. The "Jordan" poems and "The Forerunners" explain Herbert's theory of simplicity, but we need also to examine the way the poet puts his theory into practice. In "The Windows," for example, we see how a simple object is made to reveal its own complex inner meaning. Here the church windows signify the frailty of man himself, the "brittle crazie glass;" the trans- forming of the body into a fit house for the soul, and of the church into the temple of the Holy Spirit; the emanating light of the priestly function; the coming together of senses and intellect in the true celebration of God; the emptiness of words without the transcending light. The windows are the means by which the light of God illuminates the inner soul. They are full 83 of meaning in themselves, yet their purpose lies in "Making thy life to shine within." We might view Herbert* s individual poems as just such artifacts—each one intricate, self- contained, telling its own "story," yet designed to carry into the heart of the congregation-reader the light of God as reflected through the preacher-poet. Their origins in specific things and specific situations, these poems, sometimes in a remarkably short space of time, draw out the significance of their initial subject in such a way that aesthetic and intellectual pleasure are inseparable from the moral teaching. As in the church windows. Doctrine and life, colours and light, in one When they combine and mingle, bring A strong regard and aw. (p. 68, 11.11-13) In "The Windows" the physical object and the lesson it teaches are as near identical as possible. So it is with those best known of Herbert's poems where the actual shape on the page suggests the poem's subject. Only two poems, "Easter Wings" and "The Altar," visually represent an actual object, but numerous others attest to Herbert's pleasure in ensuring ' ' ' 5 that "ear and eye alike told the same tale." In "Deniall" (p.79) the lack of harmony between self and God is suggested to eye and ear by the jarring last line of each stanza but the last, where the rhyme is finally "mended." In a manner reminiscent of 84 Donne's "La Corona," the first and last lines of the stanzas of "Sinnes round" (p.122) link up to make a complete circle, in this case literally a "vicious circle," unlike the circle of perfection of Donne's poem. In "Paradise" (p.132) the last word in each line loses its initial letter in the succeeding line, to illustrate the paring down of the self as trees are pruned to make them more fruitful. That Herbert did not consider such verbal devices to be mere literary games, "quaint words" such as he deplored in "Jordan (II)," is indicated by the fact that as many occur among the later poems which were added to those in the Williams manuscript of 1629, as occur in that manuscript itself. At the simplest level they represent the fusion of the emblem and the explanatory text which accompanied it in a new, self-explanatory whole. But more important, they embody the principle of imitation that under lie s almost all of Herbert's poetry: the poem should not be merely a commentary on a certain theme, with such poetic embeHishments as might be thought appropriate, but the overall form of the poem, together with its inner structure, should grow inevitably out of that theme. In many cases the nature of the subject does not lend itself to an immediately apparent visual equivalent. Nevertheless, the principle of the visual equivalent is a useful starting point in an examination of the various poetic forms of The Temple. 85 The simple hieroglyphic poem does not need to concern itself with a special relationship between poet and subject. Like emblems and their explanatory texts its meaning is general and universal, and its basis in the poet's own personal experience of lesser importance. But in most of Herbert's poems subjective elements are as important as they are in Donne, and The Temple is as much a spiritual autobiography as the "Holy Sonnets" or the Anniversaries. Herbert's own relationship with God is as closely analysed, in all its varied complexity, as Donne4 s, but it has an extra quality of balanced reflection and calm perspective that is not nearly so common in Donne's worko The origins of Herbert's poems lie in specific situations, but these situations are always part of a larger whole. The Temple records Herbert"s own progress of the soul, but every stage in that progress is recounted from the viewpoint reached at the end of the progress. The poems are full of the spirit of self-knowledge and acceptance which comes after spiritual crisis, even though the crisis itself is presented in all its immediacy. In the ensuing pages I wish to examine the different stages in the progress towards true knowledge of self and God—the knowledge which informs The Temple, and in the light of which the principle of imitation is most clearly understood. 86 III The difficult path of seIf-knowledge begins in Herbert with the recognition of a sense of otherness and loss, of the deprivation wrought by man upon himself at the moment of the Fall. The first major group of poems to be dealt with are those in which the estrangement is most deeply felt. These are poems which are based upon the relationship between fallen man and Christ who redeemed him. It is in these poems that we find Herbert's most antithetical poetic structures; it is these poems also which seem closest in tone and poetic method to Donne. The one which first engages our attention is "The Sacrifice," if only by virtue of its length and its commanding 7 position in The Temple. "The Sacrifice" is also significant because it is the only poem in which the speaking voice is not that of the poet himself. It is as if, in order to establish the necessary frame of reference for the poems that follow, Herbert must present to himself and the reader the very archetype of estrangement, found in the Passion itself, the estrangement of Christ from man and from God the Father: Now heal thy self, Physician; now come down. AlasI I did so, when I left my crown And father's smile for you, to feel his frown: Was ever grief like mine? (p.34, 11.221-224) - 87 "The Sacrifice" is perhaps the most austere and uncompromising poem Herbert wrote. After every three-line stanza the same refrain occurs, except for the last, where the question is finally answered: "Never was grief like mine." The pattern of development within the poem is rigidly controlled by the repeated refrain. As the various events of the Passion are recalled, and as Christ's great love is revealed, we are brought back at the end of every three lines to the central situation, Christ helpless on the cross. The strong sense of movement which dominates Donne's "Goodfriday, 1613" is the result of the poet's inability to face "that spectacle of too much weight." But Herbert speaks in the voice of Christ himself, and forces that spectacle upon us. Nor from the vantage point he assumes does any fruitful outcome appear possible„ Paradoxically, the Act of Atonement is the subject of the only poem in The Temple which conveys real despair. In his singular concentration on this one moment, Herbert places the center of all suffering and solitude in the consciousness of the one man who rescued from suffering and solitude all men. In doing so he deliberately minimizes the implications of Christ's death—implications which are brought out as soon as the poet begins speaking in his own voice, which, unlike Christ's voice in "The Sacrifice," speaks in the knowledge of the Resurrection. 88 The other poems which are centered on the figure of Christ do not show the same repetitive structure of "The Sacrifice," but the sense of antithesis is still dominant. In "The Thanksgiving," which is in a sense a companion piece to "The Sacrifice," the poet makes a sudden transition to the risen Christ, and with a talkative enthusiasm further emphasized by the one long unbroken stanza, sets about the task of paying back the debt to the Savior: Shall I then sing, skipping thy dolefull storie, And side with thy triumphant glorie? Shall thy strokes be my stroking? thorns, my flower? Thy rod, my posie? crosse, my bower? (p, 35, 11.11-14) The change in tone from "The Sacrifice" is striking, but at the end of the poem all the cheerful plans and activities are checked by a sudden remembrance of what was made so clear in the preceding poem: Thy art of love, which I'le turn back on thee: 0 my dear Saviour, VictorieI Then for thy passion—I will do for that— Alas, fay God, I know not what. (p.36, 11.47-50) The sense of distance and loss is abruptly re-established in the last line, and with it a new humility. The easy confidence of the rest of the poem is conveyed primarily by the rhymed couplets, a form rarely encountered in The Temple. Each couplet is emphatically end-stopped, suggesting a mechanical succession of 89 actions quite different from the one Act of Christ, which "The Sacrifice" suggested in its single repeated refrain. Only once before the end does the voice desist for a moment from its long list of pieties: As for thy passion—But of that anon, When with the other I have done. (p.35, 11.29-30) The "other" occupies almost the entire length of the poem. "The Sacrifice" and "The Thanksgiving" stand in close relationship < to each other. They are the authentic voice of suffering and the inauthentic voice of scarcely concealed pride and human "busyness." "The Thanksgiving" represents an unsuccessful attempt to bridge the distance that separates man and God, even after Christ"s sacrifice. The poems that follow show how, in the light of increased seIf-knowledge, the relationship between poet and Savior is more deeply understood; the voice of Christ and the voice of the poet are not now so distinctly at cross purposes. In "The Reprisall" (p.36), which directly follows "The Thanksgiving," the key to the new relationship lies in the acceptance of the fact that "There is no dealing with thy mighty passion." But this disparity between Christ* s pure love and pure suffering, and the hardness of man* s heart, need not be cause for despair, since the greater power of Christ* s love will always respond to 90 the lesser love of man with force enough to break through that hardness. Such is the message of "Sepulchre," a poem which shows visibly in its structure the workings of these opposed powers, and juxtaposes the situations of Christ and the penitent. On the one hand we have the "coId hard stone" of the sepulchre which now holds the body of Christ; on the other hand, the capaciousness of men"s hearts, which yet refused him. These disparities are conveyed first of all by the stanza pattern: three rhyming decasyllabic lines, reminiscent of "The Sacrifice/' are followed by a disproportionately short trisyllabic line. This kind of stanza pattern is very common in Herbert, and is 8 the most frequently occurring of his antithetical forms. His use of it in preference to the more common vehicle for anti- thesis, the couplet, can be explained by his emphasis, especially in the earlier parts of The Temple, on the imbalance between men's efforts and Christ's achievement. In this pattern the final short line usually works to counter the longer preceding lines, and strikes home with the greater force of truth. We have already seen a whole poem, "The Thanksgiving," constructed on this principle. In "Sepulchre" each stanza is so constructed, with the additional complexity of a system of stanza pairing by rhyme scheme. In the first stanza the tercet links together the "cold hard stone" of the sepulchre and the "many hearts on earth," 91 and opposes them to the concept of love so briefly expressed in the short final line: 0 Blessed bodiel Whither art thou thrown? No lodging for thee, but a cold hard stone? So many hearts on earth, and yet not one Receive thee? (p.40, 11,1-4) In the second stanza the situation is reversed. All the "weight" of the tercet is given to the false largesse of the heart, while the bitter reality is conveyed in the final line: Sure there is room within our hearts good store; For they can lodge transgressions by the score: Thousands of toyes dwell there, yet out of doore They leave thee. (11.5-8) The same pattern follows in the two remaining pairs of stanzas. In the light of dawning knowledge, the rock of the sepulchre becomes pure, incapable of the "murder" so strongly emphasized in the last line of the third stanza; while in the fourth, the counterbalancing "order" of the last line stands completely opposed to the cruelty and injustice described in the preceding lines. Only in the last two stanzas is the bleakness of these oppositions mitigated first by the introduction of a third meaning of "stone" (the stone upon which the Law was written), and second, by a sudden shift at the beginning of the sixth stanza, which operates in relation to the whole poem as the final short line does to each individual stanza: 92 Yet do we still persist as we began. And so should perish, but that nothing can, Though it be cold, hard, foul, from loving man Withhold thee, (p.41, 11,21-24) The poems so far dealt with occur early in The Templeg and they represent the distance between man and Christ, Their inner structure reflects this distance through a principle of 'imbalance'—tercets weighed against short terminal lines in "The Sacrifice" and "Sepulchre," a short final line against the rest of the poem in "The Thanksgiving," But this imbalance can be rectified. Already there are signs, particularly in "Sepulchre," of how the distance between Christ and the penitent soul can be narrowed—through love and self-knowledge. In this way the sufferings of Christ, and his all-sacrificing love, must be experienced within the heart of every individual, and the drama of death and resurrection made the interior drama of every soul. The nature of this transition is suggested in "Sion," where the glory of Solomon's temple is contrasted with God's greater concern for the temple of the heart: Yet all this glorie, all this pomp and state Did not affect thee much, was not thy aim; Something there was, that sow'd debate: Wherefore thou quitt*st thy ancient claim: And now thy Architecture meets with sinne; For all thy frame and fabrick is within. (p.106, 11.7-12) 93 Herbert is not often content merely to point out the short- comings of selfish men when compared with him they crucified— besides, as "The Sacrifice" showed, Christ was also fully human, and the events of his life are those which are repeated in all men's lives in a common pattern of temptation, betrayal, injustice, despair, death, and finally everlasting life. The direction of these early poems is clear—they move steadily toward an interiorization of the disparity which has first been realized in the initial, glaring disparity of God's treatment at the hand of man. This process of interiorization is seen most clearly in "Good Friday," a poem which, in its two formally distinct parts, shows how the inner drama is arrived at. In the first part of the poem we return to the familiar question, how to express the magnitude of Christ's sacrifice: 0 My chief good. How shall I measure out thy bloud? How shall I count what thee befell. And each grief tell? (p. 38, 11.1-4) The question is answered partially in the fourth stanza by the poet's experiencing every hour of his life a grief that will remind him of Christ's grief. He prays "That thy distresse through all may runne, / And be my sunne." But it is in the three quatrains which compose the second part of the poem that 94 the specific interior action is described. For the events of Good Friday are written in the heart itself, so that the sin which resided there before is forced out: That when sinne spies so many foes. Thy whips, thy nails, thy wounds, thy woes, All come to lodge there, sinne may say. No room for me, and flie away, (p.39, 11.25—28) Sin once gone^ the heart can be filled with the image of Christ. But the battle is one that must be fought continually, and constant guard must be kept "Lest sinne take courage and return, / And all the writings blot or burn." For if the sufferings of Christ are to enter the heart, they bring with them also the knowledge of the cause of those sufferings—the warped and unregenerate nature of man since the Fall. This is made clear in the final stanza of "The Reprisall:" Yet by confession will I come Into thy conque st: though I can do nought Against thee, in thee I will overcome The man, who once against thee fought. (p. 37, 11.13-16) Thus within the heart are both First and Second Adam present. They are present as ignorance and knowledge, will and conscience, and the central body of poems in The Temple records the inter- action between them—the "debate" of which the outer magnificence of Solomon's temple knew nothing, and whose "frame and fabrick is within." In none of Herbert"s poems, however, do we find 95 the same drama of fragmentation that we find in many of Donne's. For the knowledge of Christ and the knowledge of sinful man, both present within the self, have been established at the beginning of The Temple. We see in the poems that follow many delusions, misunderstandings and setbacks, but the closely structured interior dialogues between one part of the soul and another never reach the impasse of many of the "Holy Sonnets." Instead, the knowledge of Christ"s sufferings is already within, and there can never be that gulf which made Donne "quake with fear" and give way to despair. In Herbert's interior dramas the 'voices0 are not those of different aspects of the self joined in fruitless struggle. One of the "voices' is always that of the indwelling God. IV Herbert's inner dramas take two major forms—dialogue and narrative. The simpler of the two, and the most clearly related to the hieroglyphic poems mentioned earlier, is the dialogue. In several poems, most notably the two "Antiphons" (pp.53, 92) and "A Dialogue-Antheme" (p.169), the different speakers of the lines are identified—Chorus and Verse, Chorus, Men and Angels, Christian and Death. But these are fragmentary pieces, suggested 96 by certain musical and liturgical forms. It is not this kind of exterior* impersonal dialogue I am concerned with, but with the inner dialogue in which the participants are not named, and where often not even the use of italics separates one •speaker" from the other. A clear division, however, separates the speakers of the poem simply entitled "Dialogue." Here Christ speaks from within the soul itself. In the second stanza, he rebukes the poet for finding his own soul unworthy: "What, ChiIds is the ballance thine, / Thine the poise and measure?" (p.114, 11.9-10) The poet responds in the third stanza by disclaiming all responsibility, and shifting the entire burden of his justification to Christ, who in the fourth stanza points out that in doing this the poet is unknowingly doing what he himseIf did: That as I did freely part With my glorie and deserts Left all joyes to feel all smart— Ahl no more: thou break* st my heart. (p. 115, 11.29-32) The dialogue is interrupted and concluded by the poet as the truth of Christ"s words becomes apparent; the distance which was felt initially to separate the soul from Christ, and thus formally to separate the first two opposed stanzas, is removed by the revelation of Christ's presence within the soul, which is in turn symbolized by the presence of both voices in the final stanza. 97 But the self acts often in rebellion against this presence, and in many of the interior dialogues the two voices are those of willfulness and conscience® The method whereby the excesses of the one are controlled by the knowledge of the other is central to these dialogues, and is outlined clearly in "The Method." Here the heart is instructed to search within itself for the cause of God8s apparent refusal to act, and the conscience answers: What do I see Written above there? Yesterday I did behave me careleslyg When I did pray. (p.133, 11.13-16) Again the unsatisfied will rebels, and again the conscience answers, but at the end of the poem conscience and will are at one in prayer, and the final voice of the dialogue is that of God: Then once more pray: Down with thy knees, up with thy voice. Seek pardon first, and God will say. Glad heart rejoyce. (p.134, 11.29-32) Possibly the most famous of Herbert's dialogue poems is "The Collar." For thirty-two lines there appears to be no dialogue at all. Blind will instructs the poet to "leave thy cold dispute / Of what is fit, and not" (p.153, 11.20-21), and for most of the poem the questions and answers belong to the same voice, the voice of rationalizing self-interest. Into this 98 specious "dialogue" the voice of God is not permitted to intrude, and the result is that "My lines and life are free." But this "freedom" is nothing but disorder, a disorder conveyed to eye and ear by an extreme irregularity in line length and 9 rhyme scheme. In the midst of this disorder, one sentence at least ends with a calculated and emphasized ambiguity: Forsake thy cage, Thy rope of sands, Which pettie thoughts have made, and made to thee Good cable, to enforce and draw, And be thy law, While thou didst wink and wouldst not see. (p.134, 11.21-26) What the will does not see is made clear in the concluding lines, where in the new-found harmony of the lines themselves, the true dialogue is heard for the first time: But as I rav"d and grew more fierce and wilde At every word. Me thoughts I heard one calling, Child1. And I reply'd, My Lord. (pp.153-154, 11.33-36) From this poem, which Joseph Summers calls "one of Herbert's most deliberate ventures in "hieroglyphic f o r m , ' w e might turn to what is perhaps the most complex of the inner dialogues. "Love unknown" bears certain resemblances to "The Collar." An experience is recounted at some length in one unbroken stanza, and at the end we are given the truth underlying that exper ience. But in almost all other respects the poem presents a striking contrast. Unlike "The Collar," "Love unknown" describes an experience which occurred some time ago; it is a "long and sad" tale which the poet now tells to a "Deare Friend." It is told in long, even, alternate rhyme pentameter lines, broken only by three short interjections ("I sigh to say," "I sigh to tell," "I sigh to speak") as the poet expresses his present sorrow at the memory. The listener likewise interrupts three times to tell the poet that his heart was "foul," "hard," and "dull," but these interruptions are incorporated into the basic pentameter pattern. Finally, the "friend" concludes the poem with his own explanation of the curious events described. A tripartite structure is apparent in the inter jections of both narrator and friend, and also in the three events described. In two of these events a sacrifice is offered up, but in each case it is insufficient, and the narrator's heart is taken instead, to be purified first by baptism and second by affliction. In the third event, he retires to bed, but finds that "some had stuff'd the bed with thoughts, / I would say thorns" (p.130, 11.51-52) It is possible, as Hutchinson claims, that Herbert is working here from specific emblems, and that the full significance of the three events must remain somewhat obscure. Nevertheless, the symbols of Baptism and Eucharist, and the reference to the thorns of the Crucifixion, recall the actual 100 events in the life, of Christ, to -whom the narrator had given the key to his "house;" thus Christ1s suffering is re-enacted within the individual soul, as Herbert indicated it must be in the first group of Easter poems. But the identity of the other voice in the poem remains undisclosed. Perhaps the best clue is provided in the lines which describe the Lord instructing a servant to take the narrator's heart instead of the fruit he has brought: But he (I sigh to say) Lookt on a servant, who did know his eye Better than you know me, or (which is one) Then I myself. (p.129, 11.7-11) This seems clearly to indicate that the two voices are those of the divided self, or, as in "The Method" and "The Collar," conscience and will. The will, however, in this poem clearly seeks to do good; it is from conviction of its own virtue that it remains so puzzled by the apparent rebuffs it meets. It is this conviction also which allows the will to tell the conscience, at the beginning of the poem, that "In my faintings I presume your love / Will more complie then help" (11.2-3). Since compliance is obviously what the will at this stage wants, it is made all the more difficult for the conscience to get a word in, and when it does, in the three interjections, its voice passes almost unnoticed, caught up in the continuing narration. At the 101 same time, it is the will's hurt pride which captures our atten- tion in the three isolated interjections, "I sigh to say," "I sigh to tell" and "I sigh to speak." Finally, the pretense is dropped. The virtuous self-assurance disappears and the will confesses that it has not always acted in accord with conscience: Indeed a slack and sleepie state of minde Did oft possesse me, so that when I pray*d, Though my lips went, my heart did stay behinde. (p.130, 11.57-59) It is this recognition that at last enables the conscience to speak forthrightly, and to convince the will that its good intentions were not sufficient, that "All did but strive to mend, what you had marr'd." In this dialogue, then, it is the failure to distinguish sufficiently between the two voices which is important; the failure lies in the readiness of the will, convinced of its virtue, to take for granted the acquiescence of conscience. This is the lesson which must be learned: it is the lesson which underlies the events described in the poem, and which Herbert, in his most subtle way, figures forth in the very structure of the poem. In the next group of poems to be considered, Herbert further refines his technique of interior dialogue by replacing the device of two separate voices with a single, straightforward narrative of seemingly uniform tone. This technique has been anticipated to a certain extent in "Love unknown," where an event, or series of events, was described from a dual point of view in time. One voice told us of the feelings and emotions these events evoked at the time they occurred, while the other voice explained their deeper significance when reflected on later by knowledge and experience. In this case the voice of reflecting conscience gave a moral meaning to things which the will was blind to at the time. Herbert's use of a formal distinction between the voices made the point clear. But how to convey both the immediacy of the events described, and their moral implications, when there is only one voice, and no apparent division in time? For, as Herbert so often shows, our under standing of the things that happen to us is fragmented and deluded until we can incorporate our immediate response within the framework of knowledge and faith. He is able to convey both immediate response and later under- standing within a unified narrative by making the ordering principle of the poem the events themselves. In much the same way that Donne shifts his structural center from the pre- determined forms of sonnet and litany to the central interior situations of his longer poems, so Herbert's dialogues of the self lose their two-voice structure, and this structure becomes implicit within the events described. For this to occur, words, images, even the events themseIves, now take on double meanings- but no second voice is there to explain them. Instead, the two levels of meaning refer directly to the initial response to a situation, and to its later understanding by the reflecting conscience. The simplest example of this process can be found in Herbert's use of familiar symbols. Thus in "Love unknown" the symbols of Baptism, Communion and the Crucifixion are quite evident in the narrator's story, but are 'explained" nonetheless by the voice of conscience and knowledge at the end of the poem. Not expla ine d in this way, but just as clear, is the meaning of "Redemption," where the same basic conceit of "Love unknown," the narrator as tenant to a Lord, serves as vehicle for an elaborate play on the meaning of such legal terms as "lease" and "suit." Herbert's use of this terminology is different from Donne's similar use cf the contract idea in the "Holy Sonnets," in that Herbert deliberately adopts the voice of a bustling, bourgeois man of affairs. The prosaic and almost comically detailed account of the search for the Lord who is to renew the lease occupies the three quatrains of Herbert's sonnet, until the "ragged noise and mirth / Of thieves and murderers" announces the end of the quest at Calvary; there I him espied. Who straight, Your suit is granted, said, & died. (p.40, 11.13-14) 104 The cancelling of the old Hebraic law in the new law of Christ, the great price of God's talcing on man's flesh, and the final granting of the suit at the Crucifixion, are all immediately apparent,as symbolic meanings long before the last italicized words of Christ, which nevertheless convey a forceful impact in opposition to the garrulous tone of the rest of the poem. Herbert's use of the sonnet form might well pass unnoticed, since it in no way depends on a traditional logical development from premises to conclusions. The three quatrains simply record the different stages in the search? enjambed lines help to make one seamless structure, the third quatrain moving without break into the climax of the couplet. In this way the couplet functions not as a resolution for a number of opposed or complementary elements earlier in the poem, but as the vital key with which we must reinterpret all that has gone before. The effect is similar to that of the short terminal lines we find in many of the hieroglyphic and dialogue poems, except that here the line on which all the weight falls is not in any kind of formal opposition to what has preceded it. In emerging as the final and inevitable conclusion, it does not draw together two opposed voices of ignorance and knowledge, but reveals both voices simultaneously, co-present in the same narrative. This principle is found in other poems of greater complexity. "Redemption" achieves its effect through its relative simplicity, due mainly to the fact that there is no inner conflict present in the narrator-persona, no debate concerning the rightness of his actions or the integrity of his search. But, as usual in Herbert, much attention is given to such matters, and in "Affliction I," another poem based on the concept of narrator as servantf there is a constant moral ambiguity in the nature of the search engaged in and the service paid. "Affliction I" might be regarded initially as another version of "Love unknown," with the dialogue of that poem replaced by a single, unified monologue, describing an unbroken series of events from the first enlisting in the Lord's service up to the present moment. But the tone of the monologue is elusive. There are hints of complacency, rebelliousness, disappointment and genuine grief, often shading into one another. Nor does Herbert give the reader any clearly identifiable symbols which will enable him to understand what the narrator ostensibly does not. In this poem the reader is obliged to identify closely with the narrating voice, and to share in the fluctuating moods and the various attempts at understanding, with none of the help that another 'voice' or a familiar symbol would provide. 106 The first three stanzas tell of the simple joy which accompanied the first entry into the service of the Lord. This, it seems, happened a long time ago, when the Lord and the created world alike were full of beneficence and the promise of future joy: When first thou didst entice to thee my heart, I thought the service brave: So many joyes I writ down for my part. Besides what I might have Out of my stock of naturall delights, Augmented with thy gracious benefits. (p.46, 11.1-6) Yet a desire for greater knowledge prompts the soul to seek the face of the Lord, and the many years of suffering begin. The Lord's initial enticements seem to have been mere trickery, the promises hollow, for now, "Thus thinne and lean without a fence or friend, / I was blown through with ev'ry storm and winde" (p.47, 11,35-36), Distrust of this Lord increases to the point where cynicism and suspicion reject any sign of good will, and bring the soul to a state of helpless passivity: Thou often didst with Academick praise Melt and dissolve my rage. I took thy sweetned pill, till I came where I could not go away, nor persevere, (p.47, 11.45-48) But lest the soul grow to love its own familiar misery, the Lord heaps new miseries upon it, until it seems the soul is engaged in a cruel contest with a totally superior adversary: 107 Thus doth thy power crosse-bias me, not making Thine own gift good, yet me from my wayes taking. (p.48, 11.53-54) The second last stanza brings us up to the present time ("Now I am here"). The last stanza looks into the future, and the soul, in a sudden burst of bravado, plots a rebellion: Well, I will change the service, and go seek Some other master out. (11.63-64) Then the sudden and dramatic about-face of the concluding lines Ah my deare Godl though I am clean forgot. Let me not love thee, if I love thee not. (11.65-66) But the interpenetration of the divine will and the human will, of divine and human love, which the narrator 'discovers' at the end, will be seen to have been present in every action the poem describes. The second level of meaning, apparently so contrary to the first, is stated explicitly in the last two lines, and from it we must reconstruct the rest of the poem in a new way, in the light of a number of key words and phrases. "Entice" in the first and second stanzas, for instance, refers at first reading to the soul"s being taken in by false promises. It is in this sense that it is later "betrayed." A victim only of its own misunderstanding, it has taken the things of the world as the true payment for its service. But the Lord does "entice, does attract by his own truth and beauty, and the "payment" is 108 the service itself. Nor need there be any conflict between God and His creation, any more than, as the final lines of the poem indicate, there need be conflict between divine and human will. The world, being created for man, is full of "naturall delights/' and the "gracious benefits" are in fact the super- addition of Grace which the uninstructed soul reads merely as a worldly dividend. Similarly in the second stanza, the soul is wrong to count the stars as its own if it regards them as payment for the service it has rendered, but right in doing so if it recognizes them as expressions of God's infinite love and bounty toward man, the climax of the creation. Since the generosity of God is at first misunderstood , so is His apparent cruelty and injustice. The "sicknesses" and "consuming agues," the betrayal "to a lingring book," are in fact the implanting of those experiences which God himself suffered in order to redeem man from the effects of the Fall. The power of God to "crosse-bias" the individual soul is in fact the very way of "making / Thine own gift good," by taking the soul from its own selfish ways. As the poet says elsewhere in "Assurance:" 0 most gracious Lord, If all the hope and comfort that I gather, Were from my self, I had not half a word, Not half a letter to oppose What is objected by my foes. (p.155, 11.20-24) 109 "Affliction I" represents, like many other individual III poems, the progress of the soul from the first high expect- ations in the service of God, through doubt and misunder- standing of God* s ways, to final resignation and acceptance. The form of the poem is an unbroken narrative sequence in which the meaning of the whole is not conveyed by any dialectical method involving text and commentary, but rather by an implanting of the deeper meaning in the words and phrases used in "telling the story." The reading of such poems approximates closely the experience of the narrator—only at the end of the events described do we have the knowledge that enables us to read the whole correctly. Other poems which reflect the same pattern may be briefly mentioned. In "Vanitie I" (p.85) the various objects of man's enquiry are presented to us in the first three stanzas. The astronomer* s spheres, the diver's "dearely-earned pearl," and the alchemist's elixir, are all instances of man's pride and his insatiable desire to know all things. But in the last stanza the poet asks, "What hath not man sought out and found, / But his deare God?" and in retrospect we see that the spheres are the symbol of perfection, the pearl is the pearl of great price, and the elixir is the abiding spirit when worldly encumbrance is stripped away. In "Peace" (p.124) the soul seeks 110 its goal in a cave, a rainbow and a flower. The cave is empty, the rainbow disperses as the clouds break, and the flower is devoured by worms; but all three prefigure the "Prince of old," Melchisedec, whom "sweetnesse" did not save from death, yet from whose grave sprang the wheat which "did soon disperse / Through all the earth." In the same way Melchisedec himself prefigured Christ. "The Collar" (p.153) is full of images of a more obvious typological nature—the board, the thorn, the wine and the corn.?--— and though this poem draws its main force from its hieroglyphic elements, it too reveals its deeper meaning in individual words and images. The essence of all these poems is summed up in the last lines of "Vanitie I:" Poore man, thou searchest round To finde out death, but missest life at hand. (p.86, 11.27-28) To find death and life in the same image, the same experience is one of Herbert's unique qualities as a poet. It is in this sense that Herbert® s poems can only be poems written from the standpoint of a mature and reflective wisdom, despite their remarkable evocation of immediate experience. Mary Ellen Rickey sees the presence of different levels of meaning within the same image as that which separates Herbert from the other metaphysical poets: Ill ...his feat of managing language so that several metaphorical statements are offered at the one time, and offered without the fanfare of conspicuous ambiguity, makes his verse very different from that of the other so-called metaphysical poets, whose practice it was to use different images successively, not attendantly.12 Certainly this quality is not often found in Donne's religious poetry. His is a more dualistic mind, where the things of life and the things of death remain separate. Even in his most unified work, the Anniversaries„ the transcending figure of Elizabeth Drury herself is viewed constantly from her two aspects, the earthly and the heavenly, and the form of the work is strongly dualistic, as the two-poems-in-one indicate. In the narrative poems of Herbert, however, form itself becomes more and more integrated, and the experiences the poems describe contain within themselves both the way to life and the way to death. The soul itself can choose which way to take, as it chooses whether or not to accept God's love and providence. Herbert, like the Lord he describes in "Sinne I" (p.45), might seem to invent many "Fine nets and stratagems to catch us in," but like that Lord, he never indulges in obscurity for its own sake. V The poems which describe God's indwelling presence by means of hieroglyphs dialogue and single unified narrative, occupy a major part of The Temple, But in most of them Herbert is more concerned with the infinite number of ways in which the soul comes to God, than with the state of the soul in God, In many poems a simple gesture of acceptance, remorse or love signifies that the soul is in unity with God, and that the vicissitudes it suffered in arriving here are now made meaningful and can be seen as part of God's providence. But these gestures are usually brief, and their importance lies in the new meaning they give to the experiences that led up to them. They interpret the past rather than predict the future. Herbert does not write much concerning future states of bliss, and seems not to possess those mystical yearnings which even Donne expresses in the more visionary passages of the Anniversar ie s. Perhaps Herbert's strong belief in the directing presence of God in all phases of human life on earth leads him to concentrate on the present realities of the soul in the fallen world rather than on its future bliss. But having said this, one is still aware of a strong visionary element in The Temple. The last group of poems I wish to discuss are poems in which the visionary element predominates. These poems have their own principles of construction, and though few in number, anticipate the visionary poems of Vaughan and Traherne. 113 Herbert's vision does not take the form of a sudden apocalyptic or mystical illumination—it is in fact firmly rooted in the observation of 'ordinary' reality. We have seen how God is revealed in human suffering, and how the troubles that beset the soul are reminders of the greater agony of Christ's Passion. But God revealed Himself also in His Creation, in the Book of the Creatures as well as in the Scriptures, and the soul, having come to God through its own inner experience, can now see with a new clarity God's omni- presence in the world. The soul itself is now able to flow out and encompass the world, as is shown in "Content." Though it "Gad not abroad at ev'ry quest and call," This soul doth span the worId, and hang content From either pole unto the center. (p.69, 11.17-18) The inner dialogue ceases: Then cease discoursing soul, till thine own ground Do not thy self or friends importune. He that by seeking hath himself once found, Hath even found a happie fortune. (11.33-36) One poem which outlines this transition from inner dialogue to a new harmony within the soul and within nature is "The Flower." It retains a narrative structure, but the narrative in this case is framed by stanzas expressing the new found joy in the Creation: 114 How fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean Are thy returnsl ev'n as the flowers in spring? To which, besides their own demean, The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring. (p. 165, 11.1-4) The suffering of the past is then described, but with a new lyricism and richness of natural imagery suggestive in them- selves of the mood of the present. "Killing and quickning," "growing and groaning" are linked together as parts of the same process governing the cycles of nature. And now there has been a new transformation and rebirth, a new creativity: And now in age I bud again, After so many deaths I live and write? I once more smell the dew and rain. And relish versing: 0 my onely light, It cannot be That I am he On whom thy tempests fell all night. (p.166, 11.36-42) The poem itself of course is testimony to the rebirth, to the discovery of the soul's true home in the "garden" and "Paradise" of the last stanza. In this garden the soul need suffer no longer under the yoke of time, no longer need exclaim "Q that I once past changing were." With less emphasis on temporal change, the stanzas of the poem are not linked nearly so closely together by narrative sequence. Unlike "Affliction I," the sufferings of the past are left deliberately vague and unspecified, consigned to a similarly unspecified "then." The looser structure of the poem which results turns our attention 115 more to each individual stanza and to its inner music. In this poem we can see emerging a new principle of organization, whereby the first stanza announces the basic theme, and the succeeding stanzas constitute variations on it. In the same way that the soul has now arrived at its destination, so the 'visionary' poems of Herbert do not necessarily "go" anywhere. Movement forward in time is replaced by movement outward in space, as the soul expands to fill the world. Perhaps the best example of this kind of poem is "Man," a celebration of the beauty of the Creation, and its culmination in man himself. Throughout the poem Herbert weaves a tapestry of geographical and astronomical images, none dwelt on for long or made in any way particular, as in "The Flower," but all combining in a general harmony. At the beginning the theme is stated in an almost prosaic manner, but immediately afterwards it is elaborated and drawn out in a series of perfectly balanced stanzas: Man is all symmetrie. Full of proportions, one limbe to another, And all to all the world besides: Each part may call the furthest, brother: For head with foot hath private amitie, And both with moons and tides. (p.91, 11.13-18) Close examination of these stanzas reveals the extreme simplicity of Herbert's means. There are virtually no adjectives or 116 parenthetical constructions, and there is little enjambment. The first four lines of each stanza are usually simple statements unlinked by any subordinating device; in the last two lines there is a summarizing and somewhat longer syntactic unit. Yet we scarcely notice this in the delicate harmonies of image and rhythm; The starres have us to bed; Night draws the curtain, which the sunne withdraws; Musick and light attend our head. All things unto our flesh are kinde In their descent and being; to our minde In their ascent and cause. (p. 91, 11.31-36) Reflecting man, who is "all symmetrie, / Full of proportions," each stanza is a perfectly symmetrical unit, the two central four-stress lines flanked on either side by a five-stress and a three-stress line. Yet variety within unity is conveyed by the variations in rhyme within each stanza: only the second and eighth stanzas share the same rhyme pattern.13 The lack of subordination of ideas together with the principle of variation lead me to believe that, with the exception of the first and last stanzas which provide a kind of doctrinal framework, the remaining stanzas could be rearranged in some other order with little harm being done to the total meaning and effect of the poem. This does not mean that Herbert is careless in his construction—only that the ordering principle is basically 117 different from that of the dialectical and narrative poems. The number of stanzas and the way they are arranged are no longer determined by logical argument, debate, or temporal sequence. One of the longest poems in The Temple* "Providence," represents the extreme to which Herbert takes his structure of theme and variation. This poem, though it shares the theme of 14 "Man," differs in several important respects. "Man" draws on spacious and unspecific images of cosmic processes—spheres, stars, sun, moons, tides, winds, fountains—the generality is emphasized by the repeated plural nouns. "Providence" on the other hand is a delighted excursion into the particular. God being present in all things, His "curious art" leads the poet into minute observations on the jaws of crocodiles, the sleeping habits of elephants, and other singularities which serve "to show thou art not bound." God® s easy freedom, and the multi- plicity He allows within His one law, is very much evident in Herbert's own poetic structure. This structure is perhaps best described by the following lines: How finely dost thou times and seasons spin. And make a twist checker'd with night and day! Which as it lengthens windes, and windes us in. As bouls go on, but turning all the way. (p.118, 11.57-60) 118 The method is simpler and sparer than in "Man." The stanzas with their four lines of equal length are not carefully structured, symmetrical units which are played off against each other by a varying rhyme scheme. The poem is not so much concerned with overall pattern as with the individual threads as they wind their way through the multiplicity of Creation. There is even a suggestion that the total pattern can never be comprehended: "If we could heare / Thy skill and art, what musick would it bei" Rather, all we can do is observe how every created thing fulfills its own function and complements the functions of others. Each short stanza reflects this concern by its interior juxtaposition of elements, by which it is broken down into even smaller units: Light without winde is glasse: warm without weight Is wooll and furre: cool without closenesse, shade: Speed without pains, a horse: tall without height, A servile hawk: low without losse, a spade. The total effect is a curious one—elliptical yet remarkably detailed, always wavering and moving, yet confined within a rigid frame. In itself it complements "Man"—the two together show the range of Herbert's vision of Creation. Such poems as these seem to stand in complete opposition to a poem like "The Sacrifice." In "The Sacrifice" there are also variations on a theme and a similarly spare technique, but the theme is estrangement and division4 and the repeated refrains a 119 hammering home of this theme by repetition and jarring trans- ition. The total effect is of great concentration—-on a small number of events occurring in a specific time and place. In "Man" and "Providence" we are in a world spacious and free, a world in which it seems the Fall had never happened, where time and space are infinite, and where all that is partial is, like Donne's "broken and soft Notes," "Division, and thy happyest Harmonie." But it must be recognized that this vision of Creation, and the particular methods used to convey it in these two poems, are not common in The Temple. There is necessarily a kind of impersonality in this vision, even a hint of deistic remoteness, despite the richness of detail. The sense of personal engage- ment so central to most of Herbert's poetry is missing here. Elsewhere the poet points out the dangers of worshipping the Creation rather than the Creator—as in "Mans Medley," for instance, where we are reminded that despite the singing birds and the ringing woods, "Mans joy and pleasure / Rather hereafter, then in present, is." The poem goes on to put into a more dualistic and Donnean perspective the pleasures of this world: Not that he may not here Taste of the cheer, But as birds drink, and straight lift up their head, So he must sip and think Of better drink He may attain to, after he is dead. (p.131, 11.19-24) 120 Herbert is careful to avoid regarding God as the image of nature, rather than nature as the image of God. But the visionary quality in Herbert is not restricted to those poems which describe the Creation. There are visionary poems which describe intense personal experience. There are visionary poems which return again to the familiar pattern of temporal change which "The Flower," "Man" and "Providence" seemed to be escaping from, visionary poems which return again to the unifying figure of Christ. In so far as they bring together an awareness of both man0 s fallen state and his potential trans- cendence through Christ, they may be regarded as more doctrinally orthodox in theme than "Man" or "Providence." But more important is the way in which the visionary quality is made to infuse and bring together the different types of poems which so far I have discussed in separate groups according to their structural basis. I wish now to show how hieroglyphic poems, dialectical poems, narrative poems and poems of theme and variation can be seen together as a total expression of the Christian vision—the vision which is the end of The Temple's symbolic journey from outer recognition of the sufferings of 1 5 Christ, through inner conflict and dialogue, to final peace. In the first group of poems dealing with the Crucifixion we find two which, while maintaining the same relationship between 121 the individual soul and Christ that we find in "The Reprisall," "The Thanksgiving" and "Sepulchre," treat that relationship in a new light, the light of the risen Christ. The disparity between the individual soul and Christ is formally expressed in the other poems of this group by imbalance between short single lines and longer stanza units, leading to a corresponding sense of imbalance between divine and human actions. In "Easter-wings" the visual pattern of the hieroglyph seems at first to make the same point: Lord,who createdst man in wealth and store. Though foolishly he lost the same. Decaying more and more, Till he became Most poore: With thee 0 let me rise As larks, harmoniously. And sing this day thy victories: Then shall the fall further the flight in me. (p.43, 11.1-10) The disparity between man and Christ is conveyed simply by the short lines at the center of the "wings:" "Most poore," "Most thinne." But these short lines are followed in each stanza by one equally short, "With thee," and the conjunction of the two enables the verse to "expand" to the "victories" and "flight" of the concluding long lines. From "sicknesses" and "affliction" emerges the new freedom of the soul's flight, the vision which Donne described in similar terms in the Anniversaries - in 122 "Easter-wings" we may even see a small, emblematic replica of Donne"s major visionary poem, "Easter" follows a more complicated pattern. We begin with joyful recognition of the meaning of the Ascension: "Rise hearty thy Lord is risen," The first three stanzas of the poem stress the close parallel between soul and Christ, The short lines alternate with the long lines as corroborations and extensions of them, while the final couplet imposes its own balanced harmony, at the same time continuing to stress the inevitable disparity between the perfect and the imperfect: Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song Pleasant and long: Or, since all musick is but three parts vied And multiplied, 0 let thy blessed Spirit bear a part, And make up our defects with his sweetest art. (p.42, 11.13-18) The second three stanzas are quatrains of even length and alternating rhyme. In this they recall the stanzas of "Providence" and they too are concerned with the world of the Creation. They are a natural counterpart to the first three stanzas dealing with the soul, but though the two parts are formally distinct, they are linked thematically, in that the created worId, like the individual soul, is inferior to the great spectacle of Christ*s ascension: 123 The Sunne arising in the East, Though he give light, & th'East perfume; If they should offer to contest With thy arising, they presume. (11.23-26) So, in these two poems antithetical elements apparent at even the simple visual level are reconciled by a greater vision which binds God, Man and the Creation together. "Christmas" presents a two-part structure similar to "Easter," but here the difference between the two parts is much more apparent. The first part is a sonnet, beginning with a deliberately prosaic narrative and ending with a prayer that "Since my darke soul and brutish is thy right, / To Man of all beasts be not thou a stranger" (p.81, 11.11-12). The second part is a psalm-like song in which the Nativity images of the opening narrative are expanded into a hymn of praise which becomes the poem itself: His beams shall cheer my breast and both so twine, Till ev'n his beams sing, and my musick shine. (p.81, 11.33-34) From the past of the narrative through the present of the prayer to the future of the hymn of praise, "We sing one common Lord." A similar effect is obtained in "Sunday," though this poem is made up of a series of variations on the general subject of that day "mo st calm, most bright." In one way the stanzas, like those of "Man," are separate acts of praise, resembling the "Sundaies of mans life" which. 124 Thredded together on times string. Make bracelets to adorn the wife Of the eternal! glorious King. (p.76, 11.30-32) The string which binds them together in the poem is the history of Redemption, from the Sunday when Christ rose to that final "day of mirth" which the poet addresses in the last stanza: O let me take thee at the bound. Leaping with thee from sev'n to sev'n. Till that we both, being toss'd from earth, Flie hand in hand to heav'n'. (pp.76-77, 11.60-63) Perhaps the most accomplished set of variations is that played on the name of "Aaron," where five five-line stanzas have the same identical rhyme scheme, even the same rhyming words. Each stanza repeats the same pattern of increasing and diminishing line lengths, suggestive of the "harmonious bells" oh the hem of Aaron's coat. What makes the poem more than just a technical tour-de-force, however, is the sustaining vision which is built up through the successive stanzas, a vision whereby the "profane- nesse" and the "darknesse" of the "poore priest" are redeemed in "Another musick, making live not dead, / Without whom I could have no rest." The "old man" dies, the new is born in Christ; the darkness is replaced by light, the defects by perfection—and all within the space of a poem whose separate stanzas are as near identical as possible, and whose music is one sustained harmony, almost obscuring the great transitions within. Once again we have 125 a poem which is in itself an expression of the "doctrine" it teaches: So holy in my head. Perfect and light in my deare breast. My doctrine tun'd by Christ, (who is not dead, But lives in me while I do rest) Come people? Aaron's drest. (p.174, 11.21-25) Only one other poem, perhaps, expresses as much in as short a space and within so formally demanding a framework. The last poem in The Church, the familiar "Love III," is a simple dialogue-narrative. But the antitheses and planned ambiguities of the earlier dialogues and narratives are almost entirely absent. The two voices sound in a perfect counterpoint in which there is no sign of the distinctions made in the other dialogues by italics or juxtaposition of longer and shorter units. When the voice of the soul as it enters heaven expresses doubt concerning its own inadequacy. Love counters not by opposing but by including, not by telling of future bliss, but by referring back to the Crucifixion, when man"s inadequacy was first redeemed: Truth Lord, but I have marr'd them: let my shame Go where it doth deserve. And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame? My deare, then I will serve. • You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat: So I did sit and eat. (p. 189, 11.13-18) That the reception of the soul into heaven should be the subject of this final poem is only fitting in this record of the journey of the Christian soul.16 That the poem should take the form of a closely-constructed narrative-dialogue is, I believe, entirely characteristic of Herbert8 s final vision. This vision does not look forward into bliss, but backward into the long history of the soul from the time, recorded in "The Sacrifice," when Christ first spoke to man from the cross and changed the very nature of the world. The final vision, then, is centered on the faltering soul of man in this life, and is described in the commonplaces of everyday existence. Herbert, as we have seen, is quite capable of conveying the vision of a glorious Creation, a universe of multiplicity in unity which man himself is heir to. But he concludes with a short dialogue—no longer the dialogue of the inner soul, the dialogue of will and conscience, but the dialogue of the resolved, submissive soul and the power of universal, all-encompassing Love,. This dialogue is the fulfillment in time of the pledge made at Christ's death, the dialogue which could grow out of the first terrible monologue, "The Sacrifice," once man's soul made Christ's sufferings its own. The final poems I have discussed show that in the life of the soul, from its memory of the birth and the death of Christ ("Easter" and 127 "Christmas") through its participation in the life of Christ's Church ("Sunday" and "Aaron") to its final reception into heaven ("Love III"), in this life all stages are illuminated by the vision of transforming Love and Grace. In these poems, no matter which particular form Herbert uses—hieroglyphic or narrative, dialogue or variations—that vision is not just suggested, but is actively present as an organizing principle. It is the knowledge of that vision, whether implicit or explicit, which informs all Herbert's poems and makes them carefully structured artifacts and fit offerings to God. But each poem in The Temple establishes its own inner music and its own visual pattern, and the relationships between the two are as subtle and intertwined as that between the complex inner processes of the soul and its potential unity within the larger pattern of God!s will. As The Temple as a whole reflects the larger pattern, so the individual poems record in their many forms the way in which that pattern is perceived in day-to-day existence. It was Herbert's great achievement to give to the religious lyric a new range of expressive forms; to combine the act of devotion with a new process of inner discovery; and "to remain, while surrendering himseIf to God, intensely aware of 17 God's personality and his own." 128 Vaughan and Traherne were to learn much from the expressive forms of The Temple. The varied intricacy of their stanza patterns, the simplicity of their diction and the colloquial rhythms of their verse, reflect Herbert's rather than Donne's influence. They also, in their own ways, pursue the goal of self-knowledge and inner discovery which the act of devotion makes possible. But in these poets the concept of personality, both God's and their own, changes significantly as the moment of final transformation draws closer. What could be experienced only after death for Donne and Herbert becomes for Vaughan an intermittent experience in the present, and for Traherne a continuing reality which began at the moment of birth. It is this change which at bottom accounts for the new and different principles of organization we find in their poetry. 129 FOOTNOTES George Herbert; His Religion and Art (Cambridge, Mass., 1954), p.93. 2 "Love II," 11.6-8, in The Works of George Herbert, ed. F. E. Hutchinson (Oxford, 1941), p.54. All .subsequent references are to this edition. 3 . For further discussion of the title of the work, see particularly Mary Ellen Rickey, Utmost Art; Complexity in the Verse of George Herbert (Lexington, Ky., 1966); Margaret Bottrall, George Herbert (London, 1954)? John David Walker, "The Architectonics of George Herbert's The Temple," ELH, XXIX (1962), 289-305. 4 p.149. 5 Catherine Ing, Elizabethan Lyrics (London, 1951), p.51. Mrs. Ing deals at length with the Elizabethan taste for visual- aural correlations, geometrical figures, emblems and devices. For the more direct influence on Herbert of the later emblem books, see Rosemary Freeman, English Emblem Books (London, 1948) , pp.148-172. 6 For a discussion of formal and stylistic differences between the earlier and the later poems, see Rickey, pp.133-147. 7 , For a detailed discussion of the long tradition of medieval lyric which lies behind "The Sacrifice," see Rosemond Tuve, A Reading of George Herbert (Chicago, 1952), pp.19-99. g Other clear examples of this form are "Longing," "The Pilgrimage," "Gratefulnesse," "The Pearl," "Vertue" and "Grace." In many other•poems the technique is modified somewhat by placing emphatic short lines within the stanza as well as at the end. In these cases the sense of antithesis is less pronounced. g As George Williamson says, "Here the verse rather seeks freedom from the inner constraint symbolized by the collar, and so escape all set patterns" (Six Metaphysical Poets: A Reader's Guide [ New York, 1967 ] , p.114). But see also Miss Rickey's discussion in Utmost Art: she finds that the poem is actually made up of quatrains, all of which are "distorted versions of the tranquil measure of the conclusion" (p.146). 130 1 1 Works, p.522. 1 2 p.60. 1 q x Miss Rickey observes that "the changing stanza forms are clearly appropriate to his exploratory mood," and claims also that "the difference in the degree of change occurring in the stanza patterns coincides with the thematic shifts" (p.144). My own examination of the poem leads me to the conclusion - that what thematic shifts there may be are of minor importance. Apart from the last stanza, I find there is basically only one theme expressed in a number of different ways. See also G. H. Koretz, "Rhyme in Man," N&Q, III (1956) , 144-146. see also Colie, pp.209-214. Miss Colie*s chapter on Herbert is a useful account of Herbert's 'imitation * of the Creation. 15 For a detailed account of The Temple as a spiritual journey, see Walker's article. The author describes The Temple as "a poem of the soul's progress from primal obedience to Christ, to maturity in affliction, to the ultimate destiny of Union with God" (p.291). I am indebted to this account, and have tried to show how the different stages in the journey described by Walker are given different formal treatment. For further discussion of the symbolism of "Love III" see Summers, pp.88-89, and James Thorpe, "Herbert's 'Love (III),'" Explicator, XXIV (October, 1965), item 16. 17 . J. B, Leishman, The Metaphysical Poets (Oxford, 1934), p.139. CHAPTER THREE Henry Vaughan I Herbert's influence on Henry Vaughan has been widely acknowledged. As F. E. Hutchinson says in his introduction to Herbert,. "there is no example in English literature of one poet adopting another poet* s words so extensivelye"1 Vaughan himself in the Preface to Silex Scintillans, confesses his indebtedness to "the blessed man, Mr® George Herbert, whose holy life and verse gained many pious converts (of whom I am the least) „ . „" Yet most modern criticism of Vaughan has recognized that the Welsh poet has his own music and his own vision—and that, not unexpectedly, his true excellence is most apparent in those of 3 his poems which are least imitative of the earlier poet. This excellence has been found in striking individual images and lines in which a sense of brooding darkness and vague longing is suddenly quickened by a brief, bright vision. Such visions in Vaughan seem to fade as quickly as they come, to be glimpsed only occasionally through the mists of the world around h i m — a world of "meer glimmering and decays." Some feel that Vaughan®s poetry achieves complete success only in these occasional glimpses, and many instances are given of poems which seem to begin with a bright freshness, but which cannot sustain it, and trail off into the commonplace and the repetitive. But no poet can survive only on the basis of a few striking images and lines. Vaughan's best poems have a delicacy and strength which, like similar qualities in Herbert, depend upon an absolute rightness of outer form and inner structure. Such poems, though there are fewer of them in Silex Scintillans than in The Temple, grow out of and give perfect form to the personal experience they describe. Since this experience is different from that of Herbert or Donne, the poems themselves, for all their indebtedness to Herbert, must be examined formally from Vaughan's own unique but more elusive standpoint, and it is this standpoint that I first wish to establish. 133 Vaughan's excellence as a poet does not depend solely on his most effective images; nor are his weaknesses simply a result of flatness of imagery and diction when the 'visionary' quality is absent. If we stress only the 'visionary* quality and the famous light-and-dark imagery which supports it, we may overlook the formal and structural basis without which it could not exist. How does this basis differ from Herbert's, and what differences in the quality of religious experience are reflected in it? As the Preface to Silex. Scintillans shows, Vaughan was aware of the difficulties faced by any poet who took Herbert as his model. But his comments on the various imitations of 4 The Temple which appeared after Herbert's death show that he was more concerned with the spirit in which these imitations were written than with the formal poetic standards which The Temple established. The "vast distance from him" which these imitations show is a result of their concentrating on mere "verse" rather than "perfection:" Hence sprang those wide, those weak, and lean conceptions, which in the most inclinable Reader will scarce give any nourishment or help to devotion; for not flowing from a true, practick piety, it was impossible they should effect those things abroad, which they never had acquaint- ance with at home, being onely the productions of a common spirit, and the obvious ebullitions of that light humor, which takes the pen in hand, out of no other consideration, then to be seen in print. (11.391) 134 The Preface abounds with criticism of "vitious verse." It lacks the milder and more urbane tone of Herbert 1s strictures and suggests that Vaughan is, paradoxically, less certain of his own poetic intentions than Herbert was. But, more important Vaughan®s initial didacticism, his single-minded insistence on the ends of poetry rather than the means, threatens a division between subject and form which Herbert's strongly emblematic sense did not allow. The result is that throughout Silex Scintillans we find a search for appropriate form which is only sometimes successful. The great variety of metrical and stanzaic patterns reflects not so much a delight in the many ways in which God may be praised, but rather a constant endeavor to find the one way, the one true, perfect expression of God's love and beauty. In short, there is in Vaughan a kind of absolutism arising from a dissatisfaction and frustration reminiscent more of Donne than of Herbert, This kind of absolutism, born of the conviction that nothing less than the full realization of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth can provide complete satisfaction, and nurtured by actual brief experiences of what this Kingdom is like, was not to be well served by Herbert's example; neither Herbert's themes nor his forms proved in the end to be of much use in Vaughan's own poetic search. 135 The problem in Vaughan emerges more clearly if we recall the kind of integration of form and subject which Donne and Herbert were able to achieve. Donne relied on either a strong, regulating form or a powerful controlling figure to express a large body of conflicting ideas and feelings. Herbert, with his great visual and musical skill, united form and subject by a number of methods ranging from simple hieroglyphs to the most complex of stanza forms; at the same time ambiguous words and images gave his verse its characteristic density and its fusion of different levels of experience. Vaughan as a primarily lyric poet does not for the most part use Donne's kind of regulating forms and central figures; nor do we find in his poetry Herbert"s density of thought and his balanced understanding. Vaughan did inherit from Herbert a large number of forms and conventions suitable for the poetic expression of religious truth; in Vaughan, however, that truth had not, at least at the time of writing 5 Silex .Scintillansff/ been made fully manifest. The search for that truth underlies and explains the nature of Vaughan's formal qualities as a poet. For Vaughan the true experience of God tends to lie in some future state that the poems can sugge st, but not fully embody or describe. In this sense he is a poet of the intangible. The search for bliss is conducted with little apparent regard for the complexity of experience in the present, and in this 136 Vaughan differs considerably from Donne and Herbert. The poetry itself, in its many changes of mood and its frequent odd dislocations of meter and stanza development, reflects a kind of restlessness of mind and soul. In his search for that joy and peace in God which is only sometimes found in the present, and for the most part remains dimly perceived in an indeter- minate future state, Vaughan uses many expressive forms. The way in which these forms are used suggests that the poet sees in them many possible avenues to the discovery of the joy and peace he seeks, but cannot make of them, as Herbert can, the formal embodiment of that discovery. Whereas Herbert® s poems interpret present and past events from the point of view of one who has, as far as possible in this world, reached the end of his search, Vaughan 8s poems look continually forward to that future time when all the imperfect stages in the soul"s progress will fall away and be forgotten in the longed-for brightness. Vaughan 8s different attitude toward everyday experience, his constant anticipation of something more pure and more complete which is as yet only intermittently visible, is central to an under standing not only of his imagery but also of his poetic forms. For these forms are best seen as experiments, attempts in themselves to define what is imminent, but has not yet been 6 fully experienced. 137 If we allow the memory of Herbert to dominate our reading of Vaughan, we may find in the latter poet* s tentativeness and unpredictability, as in the structural shifts which characterize many of his poems, a certain carelessness and an insufficient attention to the formal demands of his art. George Herbert Palmer first made the comparison when he claimed that the religious poets who followed Herbert, including Vaughan, Crashaw and Traherne, have little regard for "structural plan" 7 and are "conspicuously lacking in restraint." Albert McHarg-. Hayes, one of the first to oppose Palmer's theory concerning Herbert's obscurity and unmusicality, nevertheless continues the tradition of viewing Herbert's mastery of form as the only standard. In contrasting the later poets with Herbert, he says that "with all these men . . . the variety of their stanzas represents license, not law. Their inventions are haphazard, 8 thoughtless, unplanned." The Temple has indeed cast a long shadow over Vaughan, and it is perhaps inevitable that it should. Most critical attention has as a result been given to those poems which share, to a greater or lesser extent, Herbert* s qualities of compactness, verbal density and consistency of metrical and stanzaic pattern. But we may better understand Vaughan if our formal approach to his poetry accords with the peculiarly restless quality of his mind. 138 Such an approach has already been suggested in two recent studies of Vaughan, R. A. Durr claims in The Mystical Poetry of Henry Vaughan that "we have no right to demand of Vaughan' the kind of form so readily discoverable in Herbert and then, not finding it, to disparage his artistry? for the two poets had undertaken to transform into art quite different experi- ences within the religious life, and the structural nature of 9 their poems must differ accordingly," The nature of this difference lies in the fact that Vaughan® s poems "move with the unpredictability of a spontaneous gesture but, rightly seen, with as much grace. They express Life ebullient, dynamic unfixed, unformulated, 'imperfect,'"10 This is close to what I have called the 'restless' quality in Vaughan, and further points up the distinction between a poet who is constantly moving ahead to some as yet unexperienced fulfillment, and one who looks back to reinterpret past experience in the light of J an achieved end. But the forward movement of Vaughan's poetry is not usually that of closely reasoned argument such as we find, in different ways, in Donne and Herbert, E. C, Pettet has defined this movement as follows: . . . many of his lyrics, including most of the best ones, evolve not so much through the logical con- nected development from thought to thought, as by way of association, sometimes rather oblique in nature, and by the spontaneous proliferating of some unifying complex of imagery,H This inner movement of his poetry, whether or not it can be described as associative, alogical, spontaneous or oblique, is linked in a profound way with Vaughan's awareness of him- self, the world around him, and the perfection beyond that world. Like Herbert, Vaughan is aware of the perfect order of the Creation—but it is an order from which in many poems man himself is excluded, an order which is as a result difficult for man to imitate, for his knowledge of it is limited. The implications of this sense of exclusion in a study of form will become clearer if we briefly contrast Herbert's "Man" with Vaughan's poem of the same name. Herbert's poem (Hutchinson, p.90) celebrates man as the center and climax of the Creation; man is all proportion and all harmony, and in his works he can reflect this proportion and harmony, and make of himself a fit dwelling-place for the Spirit. The poem itself is a harmonious visual and formal imitation of the unity and diversity of the Creation. But Vaughan's "Man" is quite different. While birds, bees and flowers are all part of the greater harmony, and "To his divine appointments ever cleave," man himself is "restless and Irregular," moving about the earth with no real sense of direction, only a vague awareness of loss 140 He knocks at all doors, strays and roams, Nay hath not so much wit as some stones have Which in the darkest nights point to their homes, By some hid sense their Maker gave; Man is the shuttle, to whose winding quest And passage through these looms God order*d motion, but ordain*d no rest® (11.477, 11.22-28) Vaughan*s image here is likewise significantly different from Herbert's checkered twist in "Providence," which "windes us in," or the silk twist of "The Pearl" which leads us straight to God. Herbert's rationally apprehended pattern derives from the design of the Creation and provides the design of the poem, and the individual soul is able, at least through Nature, to apprehend the design, but, like the shuttle, is not part of it, and must live with the knowledge of its own estrangement in the present world. The inability in this world to under stand and feel part of the overall design of God is of great importance in Vaughan's poetry. It explains the restless tone of many poems, as well as the constantly repeated desire to escape from the clouded vision of this worId to the perfect knowledge of the soul after death, to that vision which Donne made the center of the Second Anniversary. Either disperse these mists, which blot and fill My perspective (still) as they pass. Or else remove me hence unto that hill. Where I shall need no glass. ("They are all gone into the worId of light," 11.484, 11.37-40) 141 It explains also the unpredictable and varied structure of many of the poems, since Vaughan lacks Herbert's sense that the poet, as an individual soul at the center of the Creation, can under- stand and reflect that ordered beauty in his own creation, his own poems. Last, and most important, the obscured vision and the sense of separateness are closely related to Vaughan* s own consciousness of seIf. That sense of individuality which is so strong in Donne and Herbert, and which we recognize in their poetry in the easy colloquialism and the intimacy of address, is not nearly so evident in Vaughan. Even in those poems of Donne and Herbert where the assertions of self are most deplored, the individual, personal tone serves as a constant, unifying force, suggesting the immediacy of the soul* s struggle with itself and even with God. In Vaughan the personal tone is much more elusive, because, as Robert Ellrodt points out, the individual soul, so often addressed directly in the earlier poets, is no longer seen as the microcosm, the point of convergence between self and God, any more than man is the central figure in the design of the Creation: Une conscience diffuse est moins apte que la conscience etroite de Donne, de Herbert ou de Marveil a se saisir elle-meme comme un centre, comme un point de convergence, dans l'acte meme de la vision ou de la reflexion. Elle sera aussi plus disposee a se repandre au dehors, a se meler aux choses qu'a en prendre possession interieure- ment par une apprehension reflechie. N'ayant pas de centre, elle s'abandonne plus aisement a l'errance des songes et de la reverie• 142 In their respective studies, Durr, Pettet and Ellrodt have all attempted to define that quality which separates Vaughan* s poetry from Herbert* s. They have pointed to the spontaneous, associative development of thought, to the reverie, and to the desires which are not always clearly defined. These qualities are especially noticeable in those poems where metrical and stanzaic patterns are not consistently maintained, but fluctuate and change in a seemingly random manner. But, as I hope to show, they are present also in the most formally regular poems, because they are all signs of that lack of self-centeredness which characterizes Vaughan"s religious experience. The core of this experience is a process of fragmentation in which distinct personality disappears in the search for a greater identity with God: 0 that I were all Soul! that thou Wouldst make each part Of this poor, sinful! frame pure heart'. Then would I drown My single one, And to thy praise A Consort raise Of Hallelujahs here below (" Che ar fulness," 11.429, 11.17-24) Donne describes, from within the strongly dualistic framework of the Anniver saries, what such a greater identity within God will be like; Herbert, at the end of The Temple, brings us to the very threshold of union in "Love III." But both poets deal 143 with this mystical transformation from the point of view of the individual soul, a soul intensely self-conscious and self-analytic. In Vaughan, however, we do not find that same preoccupation with the individual soul and its inner drama which are at the center of Donne's and Herbert's poems. Ellrodt refers to Vaughan* s lack of "self-consciousness" (the English word is used), and describes its importance in the development of thought and feeling in the poems: Ce mouvement nature 1 de la pens^e et de 1* emotion chez Vaughan est un mouvement lineaire, ralenti ou devie par la meditation, mais sans revirement psychologique, sans ces brusques detours que 1' analyse de leurs sentiments, la perception d'une intime complexite imposent a la reflexion chez Donne et chez Herbert. It is as if Vaughan seeks in his poems to break down the barriers of self to the point where the personal voice and the distinct personality will dissolve in the Divine Personality, whose immanence is for Donne and Herbert an end, but for Vaughan only a beginning. The end of Vaughan's search, as religious man and poet, can be deduced from several poems which are specifically concerned with that transformation which the immanence of the Divine has promised. The poet knows, as Donne and Herbert do, that physical death must first intervene for the soul to be freed from its earthly prison, but unlike Donne and Herbert, Vaughan finds 144 immediate and striking evidence of the transformation to come in brief moments of visionary insight, moments of ecstasy when all worldly things are suspended and made transparent, when ignorance is replaced by knowledge, and the soul itself is touched momentarily by an unexpected brightness: He that hath found some f ledg'd birds nest, may know At first sight, if the bird be flown; But what fair Well, or Grove he sings in now, That is to him unknown. And yet, as Angels in some brighter dreams Call to the soul, when man doth sleep: So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted theams. And into glory peep„ ("They are all gone into the world of light," . 1 1 . 4 8 4 , 11*21-28) In such poems as "The Morning-watch," "Cock-crowing" and "The World," these brief moments are extended into whole stanzas or sections, but for the most part it is the search for such moments the poems record: I search, and rack my soul to see Those beams again, But nothing but the snuff to me Appeareth plain. (" Silence, and stealth of days'." 11.426, 11.17-20) The inner world provides no more opportunities for trans- cendence than the outer world„ Even though, as Louis Martz has pointed out, the memory of a divine reality still remains, and in several of Vaughan0s poems we see "a sinking inward upon the mind's resources, until all the evocative ramifications of the 145 memory have been restored,"- such a restoration of memory cannot be fully satisfying to the man who has peeped into the glory still to come. As "Vanity of Spirit" shows, all we can find through painful inner search is an awareness of the fragments of vision, not the vision itself: I summon*d nature: peirc'd through all her storet Broke up some seales, which none had touch*d before, Her wombe, her bosome, and her head Where all her secrets lay a bed I rifled quite, and having past Through all the Creatures, came at last To search my selfe, where I did find Traces, and sounds of a strange kind. (11.418, 11.9-16) But these traces are "Hyerogliphicks quite dismembred, / And broken letters scarce remembred." The pieces cannot be united: At last, said I, Since in these veyls my Ecclips*d Eye May not approach theeT (for at night Who can have commerce with the light?) I"le disapparell, and to buy But one half glaunce,, most gladly diec (11.419, 11.29-34) With the barriers of self broken down, but with the ultimate transformation unattainable until after death, it is almost as if deliberate search in this world is a waste of time. Unlike Donne who, deprived in the "Holy Sonnets" of any manifestation of God's providence, remains imprisoned in the walls of the self, Vaughan is free to 'wander* at will. His excursions into Hermeticism and occult philosophy, into medicine and the Book of the Creatures, can be seen as different stages in his wanderings. 146 But always in the background is the voice at the end of "The Search:" Search well another world; who studies this® Travels in Clouds, seeks Manna, where none is® (11,407, 11,95*96) The act of searching itself involves an assertion of will and personality which seems to defeat its own true object. That sense of a distinct, engaged personality which, as I have claimed, is never strong in Vaughan, is least so in those poems where some object from nature, unsought, seen almost by chance, becomes the object of rapt contemplation and seems to take over completely the poet* s consciousness, restoring in him once more his faith in future fulfillment. Such poems as "The Tempest" and "The Water-fall" show clearly the restorative process. Despite their earth-bound natures, both storm and waterfall embody that upward movement to heaven which man longs to imitate: All things here shew him heaven; Waters that fall Chide, and fly up; Mists of corruptest fome Quit their first beds & mount; trees, herbs, flowres, all Strive upwards stil, and point him the way home, ("The Tempest,'" 11,4-61, 11,25-28) It is the waterfall, the tempest, the crowing cock, the tree, the shower, all natural and spontaneous sources of energy, which provide in Vaughan's poems the main channels through which regeneration will come and the individual soul, now wander ing and fragmented, will be made whole again. The way is not easy 147 to find, but it is there„ It may be seen only partially, in infrequent glimpses, "But is stil trod / By ev'ry wandring clod." In its wanderings, then, the soul is hesitant and even despairing in the face of the unknowable, but its wanderings are necessary, for only the restless soul remains receptive to the divine spark which at intervals illuminates the darkness and renews the promise of coming transformation. The fixed soul, on the other hand, remains ignorant of the tempest* s meaning: Thus groveling in the shade, and darkness, he Sinks to a dead oblivion. •(11.41-42) II The poems of Silex Scintillans, taken as a whole, reflect the wander ing que st, but unlike Herbert*s journey of the soul, the end of Vaughan* s quest is often obscure, and there are few sure guides. The poems are not parts contributing to a temple of praise, where the temple is a symbol of the traditional, eternal bond between soul and God. They are the records of long periods of sorrow and frustration interspersed with the briefer moments of illumination. They are not contained within a careful overall pattern like that of The Templea since such a pattern is an imitation of the divine pattern which to Vaughan has not yet 148 been fully revealed. Nor within themselves do they exhibit the tight and controlled structure found in individual poems of Donne and Herbert. There is in many single poems of Vaughan a sense of something formally incomplete, a sense even of fragments awaiting their final ordering. The effect is not accidental. The emblem on the title page shows the downward dropping tears and the upward rising flames—but only in some future state will the fragmented heart be reunited in God. In his explanation of the emblem Vaughan wr ite s: En laceruml Caelosque tuos ardentia tandem Fragmenta, & liquidas ex Adamante genas. But this is a future vision, the long awaited release of the soul from its earthly prison. The poems of Silex Scintillans are not the carefully hewn and placed stones of The Temple, but fragments of the stony heart seeking their unification in the sustained light of God now glimpsed only as sparks. Vaughan's temple is not of this world. To convey in verse this vision seen only intermittently was no easy task. Vaughan was served by a fairly narrow but fully explored and interiorized vocabulary of words and images which he returned to in poem after poem. Images of light and dark, of stars, clouds, springs and plants, recur as constants, but the formal contexts in which they appear vary considerably. It may 1 5 be true, as Kermode has suggested, that Vaughan often used his 149 familiar and evocative images when the real vision was absent. That Vaughan was aware of the danger here is made clear by the insistence on integrity of feeling in the Preface, and by the short and unusually ' self-conscious' "Anguish:" 0* 'tis an easie thing To write and sing; But to write true, unfeigned verse Is very hard! G God, disperse These weights, and give my spirit leave To act as well as to conceive I (11.526, 11.13-18) But rather than question the poet's "sincerity," more will be learned by looking at the formal contexts in which the familiar images occur. In doing so, we shouId first take note of the virtual absence of several of the structural principles which are so widely used by Herbert. For this is one case, I believe, where the absence of imitation of Herbert is of considerable importance in an assessment of the forms we do find. First, there are very few hieroglyphic poems where verbal or typographical devices imitate in a directly visual way the subject of the poem. "Distraction" (11.413) and "Disorder and Frailty" (11.444) echo the planned irregularities of rhyme and line length of "The Collar;" "Love- sick" (11.493) and "The Wreath" (11.539), with their repetition of end words in succeeding lines, echo Herbert's "A Wreath" and "Sinnes Round" (though in Vaughan this pattern is not consistently maintained); and "Trinity-Sunday" (11.493), with its three three- line stanzas, is a direct imitation of Herbert's poem of the same name.^ But Vaughan*s visual sense is essentially different from Herbert* s, and what Herbert was able to raise to a high poetic art remains in Vaughan a somewhat self-conscious device. Nor was Vaughan9s visual sense usefully employed in the close systematic analysis of an object for its inner symbolic meaning, in the manner of Herbert's "The Pulley," "The Church-floore," or "The Windows." Only one of Vaughan's poems, "The Lampe" (11.410), is emblematic in this way, and it is more labored than 17 revealing. Such an interlorization of meaning as Herbert was able to achieve in the objects and situations he wrote of is rarely found in Vaughan, in whom concentration on small and intricate detail is replaced by a process in which analysis gives way to synthesis in the light of the imagined unity to come. Even that object of profound contemplation, the waterfall, loses its form in its plunge to destruction, and its trans- formation suggests all the more strikingly the heavenly unity which lies beyond this world. Since we cannot hope to find here in this worId the unifying vision, then the objects and situations which Herbert found meaningful enough to represent in the detailed visual equivalents of hieroglyph and emblem, will not be so significant to Vaughan. The same applies to the enclosed world of the self. Since the transforming of the self in the world to come is the major 151 motivating force in Vaughan"s search, the drama of inner personality in the present world is not nearly as important in his poetry as it is in Herbert's, and thus it is not surprising that Herbert's dialogue and narrative forms are largely absent from Silex Scintillans. On the lack of dialogue in Vaughan J» B. Leishman has commented: It may indeed'be doubted whether the essentially contemplative, single-minded and consistently serious author of Silex Scintillans would have been capable of writing a genuinely dialectical, dramatic and two-sided dialogue.18 There is little to indicate, however, that Vaughan found any kind of logical or dialectic process conducive to the attain- ment of truth. Nor does he find useful the analytic and abstracting process by which Herbert in his dialogues gives voice to such separate entities as the Will, the Conscience, and the Holy Spirit, as they work within the individual soul. It is with their fusion in a future totality rather than with their relationship in the imperfect present that Vaughan is mainly concerned. There are only three short formal dialogues in Silex Scintillans: "Death" (11.399), "Resurrection and Immortality" (11.400) and "The Evening-watch" (11.425)„ They take the form of the traditional impersonal dialogue between body and soul, and in no way suggest Herbert's complex interiorized dramas. But the lack of formal dialectic in Vaughan's poetry is not the result of a solemn single-mindedness, or of any lack of imaginative power. The poet's wandering search takes him through many states of mind and feeling, but the linear develop- ment of the poems tends to prevent the establishing of any clear and definite relationship between these states, and we cannot give such labels as "Will" and "Conscience" to the different 'voices0 which occur in the poems. Even those exterior voices, usually signified by italics, which "whisper" at the end of such poems as "The Search" and "The WorId" are not readily identified, as similar voices in Herbert are. The lack of concern for the inner drama of the seIf, together with an episodic development of ideas and feelings, make it impossible for Vaughan to write a true dialogue in the manner of Herbert. The same episodic development precludes the particular narrative forms of Herbert, where experiences are recounted which are 'interpreted' by a second speaker or by carefully planned ambiguities, and the poet's acceptance of God's will at the time of writing reflects back upon the events described and gives them deeper meanings unperceived at the time. Where by an act of retrospection Herbert explains and places within a wider Christian context the trials of the soul in this world, Vaughan's 'narratives' move characteristically toward, not a reinterpretation of experience in the world, but a 153 transcendence of it. At the end of these 'narratives® we are not intended to go back and discover the divine truth which Herbert so often presents, on first reading, as divine perversity; we can only go on, for in the past lie only "broken letters scarce remembred." The first person narrative poems remain on the whole full of mysteries, full of intimations of something not yet made clear. In this way, "Regeneration," the first poem of Silex Scintillans, takes us through a succession of strange sights and sounds. The poet's "restless Eye" and listening ear seek explanations, as does the reader. The explanation, when it comes, does not really esq)lain anything, but rather opens up an entirely new range of possibilities beyond our immediate under standing. The poem ends with the description of a "rushing wind:" I turn'd me round, and to each shade Dispatch*d an Eye, To see, if any leafe had made Least motion, or Reply, But while I listning sought My mind to ease By knowing, where 'twas, or where not. It whisper"d; Where I please. (11.399, 11.73-80) Nor do the separate events which make up the narratives necessarily show a close logical relationship. In Herbert events which seem unrelated to the uninstructed soul always become meaningfully 154 related in the light of conscience and knowledge? in Vaughan their unrelatedness is likely to be central to our reading of the poeme and our search to find relatedness, in the form of a clear and fixed allegorical pattern, as frustrating as Vaughan5 s own search to find the perfect design in the mists of the world. Lacking the sense of fulfillment in present time, lacking the assurance of knowledge and the strong, controlling personal voice, Vaughan develops his poems in a much more tentative way than Herbert. I will examine a number of poems under .two general headings: those which show an irregular pattern of development and those which show a regular pattern. In a few of the irregular poems lack of purpose is an obvious flaw, but in most cases formal shifts and inconsistencies are deeply expressive of complex feelings and thought patterns. In the regular poems, those in which a uniform stanzaic and metrical pattern is maintained throughout, the inner structure of the stanza may show the same kind of appropriate or inappropriate metrical variation. In the remainder of this chapter I will examine in closer detail the way in which both the formally regular and the formally irregular poems in Silex Scintillans can be seen to embody the same search for truth and wholeness, the search in whose terms so much of Vaughan* s religious experience xs defxned. 155 III I will begin by considering a number of poems of the irregular type, where abrupt shifts in meter and verse form create effects which may be relatively common in post-Romantic poetry, but whose originality in the seventeenth century is 20 striking. The first of these poems to be discussed is "The Search"—not only because its very title conveys the quest which underlies so much of Silex Scintillans, but also because it contains several devices which appear to be borrowed from Herbert. It is a narrative; a second voice is heard at the end in what may seem like a dialogue; and it contains many scriptural allusions. But it does not look like a poem by Herbert. Its verbal 'masses9 appear unevenly distributed and •top-heavy.' Seventy-four lines of tetrameter couplet forming a solid block are followed by three short lyric stanzas, and the whole is rounded off by a pentameter couplet. The first long section of the poem records the search itself, begun in darkness: all night have I Spent in a roving Extasie To find my Saviour. (11.405, 11.3-5) The poet wanders from place to place, following Christ's own path, from Bethlehem to the Hill of Calvary, but all he finds is heaps of ashes, sighs, empty tombs, mere "Idaeas of his Agonie. 156 The forward movement of this part of the poem is vague—a succession of briefly mentioned places seen only in darkness— and is conveyed with great appropriateness by couplets whose own outline is blurred by constant enjambment and various parenthetical phrases. There is a feeling of breathlessness and of basic indirection, similar in effect to the narrative in Herbert's "Redemption." But as daylight comes, and with it the discovery that "my Quest is vaine," the poet decides he will go to the wilderness, for "He liv'd there safe, 'twas his retreat / From the fierce Jew, and Herods heat." Seeking sanctuary, he anticipates the pleasures of rest: What pleasures should my vTourney crown. What silent paths, what shades, and Cells, Faire, virgin-flowers, and hallow'd Wells I should rove in, and rest my head Where my deare Lord did often tread. (11.407, 11.68-72) The couplets are now lulling and even in their movement, and with the introduction of the voice of "one singing," we may expect a continuation in the same manner. But the short lyrics that follow are unexpectedly disruptive, not only of the movement from restless wander ing to the promise of peace which has evolved up to this point, but of the whole idea of peace and re st in this world, even in those places of hallowed memory—places now seen merely as "the skinne, and shell of things," "old Elements, / or Dust." This, then, is the real wilderness, and 157 the broken lines and awkward rhyme pattern tell their own story: The skinne, and shell of things Though faire, are not Thy wish, nor prayer but got By meer Despair of wings0 (11081-87) Even the scenes of the Passion and the Crucifixion seem now without meaning; their significance is solely to point forward, and the final antithetical couplet, while it brings the worIdly search to a conclusive end, points forward to another world, whose nature we might deduce from Scripture, but about which Vaughan remains deliberately vague: ' ' " 1 Search well another worId; who studies this, Travels in clouds, seeks Manna, where none is. (11.95-96) It is evident that the final short lyrics and couplet are in structural and thematic opposition to the rest of the poem, but rather than modify each other in the kind of meaningful inter- action we find in similar examples in Herbert ("The Pearl," "Love Unknown," etc.), the two unequal 'halves' of this poem serve to point, in different ways, to the continuation of the search in realms beyond this world, and beyond this poem. Fortunately we have a continuation of "The Search" in a poem which bears much the same relationship to that poem as Donne* s 158 Second Anniversary does to the Fir st. "Ascension-day," the first poem in the second part of Silex Scintillans, and an evident companion-piece to "The Search," reverses the structure of the earlier poem, and complements it with an imagined identification of the poet with 21 the risen Christ. Instead of a long, uniform opening section giving way abruptly to a second, shorter, fragmentary section, here the 'intrusion' of a short lyric occurs at the beginning, and after initial unevenness the poem proceeds through sustained, regular couplets to a triumphant conclusion. This poem is one of the few in which Vaughan seems to achieve transformation, and in it he looks back in the light of the new discovery. We may note also, along with the structural reversal, a reversal in the soul's relationship with God. In "The Search" (as in "Regeneration"), the soul is finally thrown back upon itseIf, and its distance from true unity is stressed in the abrupt and unsettling conclusion. "Ascension-day" begins at this point. The gap that once separated the soul from God is alluded to at the beginning of the poem, where close juxtaposition of pronouns, emphatic enjambment and a parenthetical intrusion recall Donne's use of similar devices in the "Holy Sonnets:" 159 Thy glorious, bright Ascension (though remov'd So many Ages from me) is so prov'd And by thy Spirit seal"d to me, that I Feel me a sharer in thy victory, (11.481, 11.5-8) The tentativeness of these lines is suddenly dispelled by a sho lyric section, which, despite its lack of any poetic merit, announces a transition as clear and abrupt as that at the end of "The Search:" I soar and rise Up to the skies, Leaving the world their day. And in my flight, For the true light Go seeking all the way. (11.9-14) From this new view-point, imaginatively at one with the risen Christ, the poet, rather than seeking further, in fact returns to the scene of "The Search" and finds the Sepulchre, the Grave. the "now Primros* d-fields," shining in the light of the risen sun. The lonely traveler of the earlier poem, no longer locked within himseIf, becomes at one with the transformed worId: I see them, hear them, mark their haste, and move Amongst them, with them, wing'd with faith and love. (11.31-32) In contrast to the long opening section of "The Search," where in a deliberately prosaic way the succession of couplets records an actual physical journey conducted in this worId•s time and space, the long closing section of "Ascension-day" reveals a 160 spacious vision in which the poet seems to be in all places, and in all time, at once. Past and future become one in an endless present, as "I walk the fields of Bethani which shine / All now as fresh as Eden, and as fine„" Further comparison reveals that narrative has given way to pure imaginative vision, as the search is succeeded by the discovery? particularity of detail is replaced by a generality which in Vaughan, as in Traherne later, signifies the soul's yearning 22 for wholeness. The heroic couplets of this poem take up the Edenic vision so fleetingly glimpsed in "The Search," and extend it in a stately music which owes very little to Herbert, but which seems rather to suggest the balanced measures of the Augustans: When Heav'n above them shin'd like molten glass, While all the Planets did unclouded pass? And Springs, like dissolv'd Pearls their Streams did pour Ne'er marr'd with floods, nor anger'd with a showre.23 (11.482, 11.45-48) Both poems, then, use immediately apparent imbalances to make their point. The long repetitive opening sequence of "The Searbh" depicts the unprofitable realities of this world, but the pattern of this sequence is abruptly broken by new rhythms, and, finally, new possibilities. The terminal couplet establishes the dominant metrical pattern of "Ascension-day," in which, after an initial abrupt transition, the soul breaks free of the world, and the new 161 reality is established in a new time and a new space,, Like "The Sacrifice" and "Love III" in The Temple, these two poems constitute a beginning and an end in Silex Scintillans. They are in a sense atypical poems—few others give so little indication of the end of the soul's quest as "The Search?" few make the end so imaginatively explicit as "Ascension-day." Between these two poles can be placed other more typical poems, where structural shifts bring this world and the next into much closer relationship with each other—into the kind of proximity which Vaughan's own sudden moments of vision, and also, perhaps, his reading of the Canticles and the Hermetica, had suggested. This proximity is most immediately felt when the power of some natural phenomenon, spontaneous and unself- conscious, enters the soul and directs it back to its true cour se. "The Tempest," like "Man," contrasts the intuitive closeness of nature to God with man* s almost perverse preference for ignorance and separation. Although "all things here shew him heaven," and all living things as well as all elements point upward, man himself remains imprisoned by false values. This imprisonment is suggested immediately by the four-line stanzas with their enclosed abba rhyme scheme. This stanza is also well suited to express the contrasts which the poet establishes 162 by means of repeated questions and exclamations: 0 foolish man*, how hastu thou lost thy sight? How is it that the Sun to thee alone Is grown thick darkness, and thy bread, a stone? Hath flesh no softness now? mid-day no light? (11.462, 11.53-56) The extent of our loss is, however, made immediately apparent by the insertion between first and second stanzas of a twelve-line lyric which recalls a time when earth and heaven were in harmonious accord: When nature on her bosome saw Her Infants die. And all her flowres wither»d to straw. Her brests grown dry; She made the Earth their nurse, & tomb, Sigh to the sky, •Til to those sighes fetch9d from her womb Rain did reply, So in the midst of all her fears And faint requests Her Earnest sighes procur'd her tears And fill"d her brests. (11.460, 11.5-16) The simplicity of this lyric is in obvious contrast to the pattern of the rest of the poem. Alternating four- and two-stress lines and an alternating rhyme scheme combine with carefully juxtaposed long and short vowels and repeated key words like "sighes" and "brests" to produce a mysterious and sensuous music which man can no longer hear, for "Heaven hath less beauty than the dust he spies, / And money better musick than the Spheres." In the stanzas that follow the lyric, the vision of unity is alluded 163 to several times, but seems to retreat further and further as the agitated angularity of the dominant pattern establishes itself. Since the short lyric is a formal italicized intrusion in "The Tempest," it gains an added emphasis and calls to mind the great distance separating the real and the ideal. In "The Dawning," however, there is a greater sense of nearness and imminence, and metrical shifts and variations are worked into the basic pattern of the poem to produce a mood of expectancy. The irregularity of the first of the poem's two sections conveys with considerable skill the mounting excitement of the soul as it awaits the vision of light. The opening pentameter line scar cely has a chance to establish itself7 it is followed immediately by four octosyllabic lines, which in turn give way to a daring four-syllable line in which the iambic pattern of the opening is almost entirely lost: Ahl what time wilt thou come? when shall that crie The Bridegroome' s Coirtmingl f il the sky? Shall it in the Evening run When our words and works are done? Or will thy all-surprizing light Break at midnight? (11.451, 11.1-6) Three more short lines interrupt at irregular intervals during the rest of the opening section, as if to concentrate our / wander ing attention on the joyous event. But the irregular 164 opening serves a further purpose. Man, until the dawning, is "without measure;" but now "Ful hymns doth yield," and "The whole Creation shakes off night." The second part of the poem proceeds in the new measure of regular octosyllabics. As sometimes happens in Vaughan, the initial excitement is dissipated. The poem turns into a more conventional devotional exercise as, paradoxically, the "all-surprizing light" retreats into some undetermined future: So when that day, and hour shal come In which thy self wil be the Sun, Thou*lt find me drest and on my way. Watching the Break of thy great day. (11.452, 11.45-48) "The Morning-watch," on the other hand, sustains its "full hymn" throughout. Five-stress, three-stress and two-stress lines are arranged in a set order. Man "without measure" is now raised into a "worId in tune." Lines of widely varying length are run on, and a complex rhyme scheme establishes its own interlocking pattern to suggest the continuing, unbroken dawn- vision: In what Rings And Hymning Circulations the quick world Awakes, and sings; The rising winds, And falling springs. Birds, beasts, all things Adore him in their kinds. Thus all is hurl'd In sacred Hymnes, and Order, the great Chime And Symphony of nature. (11.424, 11.9-18) 165 There is no feeling in this poem, as there is in "The Dawning," that a familiar metrical pattern is being imposed as a kind of substitute for the celestial music only haIf-heard. What finally eludes the poet in "The Dawning" is here made fully manifest, and, in the words of another of Vaughan's critics, the rhythmical achievement is "particularly noticeable in the sections of shortened lines, where the dangerously brief phrases and the close proximity of rhyming words rarely impede 24 the sustained flow of the poem." "The Morning-watch," while offering a useful comparison with "The Dawning," remains on the same level throughout. The ordered pattern of its lines does not embody the sense of movement and transition, the searching quality, which formal irregularity in Vaughan usually expresses. Sometimes, however, as in "The Bird," metrical and stanzaic variation are merely gratuitous and reflect a lack of real interest in, or an uneasiness with, the subject. A series of general reflections on the birds of light and the birds of darkness is given no point or direction by seven differently structured stanzas. Only the sixth seizes our attention with its stark ballad-like rhythm which Vaughan handles, in this instance, with perfect control: 166 The Turtle then in Palm-trees mourns. While Owls and Satyrs howl; The pleasant Land to brimstone turns And all her streams grow foul. (11.497, 11.27-30) For Vaughan's irregularly structured poems to succeed, there must be a feeling of close identity with the subject, and such a feeling is lacking here. As a final example of the irregular poems, one might examine "The Water-fall." Its structure is basically similar to that of "The Dawning" and "The Tempest," in that the irregular "intrusions' occur at the beginning, after which the poem establishes its own fixed metrical pattern. The difference lies in the fact that there is no division in tone or meaning, just as there is no stanza division. The seamless integration of the whole is a result of the complete absorption of the poet in the subject of the poem. The poem itself imitates the waterfall. Yet there is no sense of ingenuity or contrivance, and the imitation is heard rather than seen. The two initial slow pentameter lines, for instance, with their long suggestive vowels and alliterated consonants, 'flow' almost imperceptibly into the second couplet, where four verbs in two four-syllable lines convey the sense of an unexpected fall, and a new, quicker music breaks through: 167 With what deep murmurs through times silent stealth Doth thy transparent, cool and watry wealth Here flowing fall. And chide, and call. As if his liquid, loose Retinue staid Lingring, and were of this steep place afraid. (11.537, 11.1-6) The fifth and sixth lines interrupt the quickening movement of the verse—the voice must slow down progressively to give equal weight to the last four words of the fifth line, and the run-on, perfectly placed "lingring" of the fifth. But the descending movement continues until finally checked by the two initial negatives of the tenth and eleventh lines: The common pass Where, clear as glass. All must descend Not to an end: But quickned by this deep and rocky grave, Rise to a longer course more bright and brave. (11.7-12) The. sudden change in direction signaled by these lines introduces the renewed journey of the stream toward the "sea of light" from which it came. This new movement finds its structural counterpart in the "longer course" of the poem itself, as the interaction of five-stress and two-stress lines resolves itself in the steady flowing rhythm of the tetrameter couplets which make up the concluding section. Within this new movement the poet draws out the "lesson" of the waterfall. There is now a certain distancing from the subject—not because a vision has 168 been lost, as in "The Dawning," but because it has been found, through the poet's absorption in his subject. The movement of the'water is now revealed to be ultimately cyclic, and it is the perfection of the great circle of stream, sea and sky which draws the mind to God, and which has particular significance for the wandering soul of man. The waterfall never 25 disappears from the poem, but its movement becomes part of the greater movement of all "mystical, deep streams," part of the Spirit "Which first upon thy face did move, / And hatch'd all with his quickning love" (11.31-32). The successive and linear movement of the poem seems in this one case to merge with an ever-widening circular movement, as the soul moves out- ward like the "streaming rings" at the base of the waterfall, "Which reach by course the bank, and then / Are no more seen, just so pass men" (11.35-36). Finally, the waterfall itseIf, as a mere part of the greater order, is transcended, at the very moment when the poet's identification with it is most complete: 0 my invisible estate. My glorious liberty, still lateI Thou art the Channe1 my soul seeks, Not this with Cataracts and Creeks. (11.37-40) In this way the transitions at the beginning of the poem, where the actual physical waterfall of the senses is so vividly evoked, are forgotten when the soul itself merges with the "mystical stream" in the "longer course" towards liberty and light. 169 IV Throughout the irregular poems we are made aware of the importance of the couplet, but its true significance in Silex Scintillans is best revealed in the formally regular poems which I now wish to discuss. No other metaphysical poet, except perhaps Marveil, makes such extensive and varied use of this "hallmark of the Jonsonian mode." Edmund Blunden noted this in his early study of the poet, and claimed that it is only when Vaughan is writing couplets, particularly octo- syllabic couplets, that "his thought advances vigorously and clearly, and is strengthened by apt modifications of accent 27 and sound." At first glance it may seem strange that a poet as unanalytic and as little given to logical argument as Vaughan should be attracted to such a precise and even con- stricting form—particularly when his master Herbert made only sparing use of it, as did his more 'mystical' successor Traherne, But it seems likely that in Vaughan the couplet serves the same purpose as Herbert's more tightly organized stanza patterns—to provide a solid formal basis for subtle nuance and spontaneity of feeling„ Pettet draws our attention, in "The Water-fall," to "the counterpoint effect of the natural, uncontorted word-order and the flowing supple rhythm of one long sentence against the taut 170 IV and highly formal metrical pattern." Ellrodt finds Vaughan9s poetry occupying a kind of middle ground between complete formal spontaneity and adherence to one particular, prescribed, but infinitely adaptable, literary convention: II n*est pas de ces poetes dont 1"esprit se forge spontanement ses propres moyens d"expression. Mais son inspiration n'epouse pas non plus les formes strictes d'une convention litteraire definie, dont 1'artifice meme, chez Crashaw ou chez Marveil, est le fond neutre sur lequel s' accuse les plus menues particularites de l1inspiration personnelie.2 9 The kind of progress we observe in much of Vaughan's poetry is towards the establishing of a formally regulating pattern. Such a pattern is based almost invariably on the couplet, or a modified version of it. Entire poems can show this transition to a couplet pattern, as I have shown in "Ascension-day" and "The Water-fall." Some simply conclude with a single, summarizing couplet, a favorite device in poems of a more orthodox devotional or didactic nature such as "Death" (11.399), "Religion" (11.404), "The Pur suite" (11.414) and "Jesus weeping" (11.503). "Regeneration" (11.397), "Affliction" (11.459), "The Evening-watch" (11.425) and "Joy" (11.491) are poems in which a single terminal couplet reimposes a sense of order on inner discord. Similar transitions can also be observed to form a common, repeated pattern within each individual stanza, and the control of the couplet can be felt throughout the poem. Such is the case in "Dressing" (11.455), "The Law, and the Gospel" (11.465), "Cock-crowing" (11.488) and "The Jews" (11.499). Finally, taking Silex Scintillans as a whole, it will be found that an overall pattern of increasing regularization emerges clearly. Less than a quarter of the poems in Part I (1650) consist wholly of regular or alternating couplets, as opposed to over half in Part II (1655). The tendency towards the formality of the couplet does, I think, suggest that Vaughan found it a useful discipline and guide for feelings and experiences which lay outside the pattern of Anglican orthodoxy. If it is true, as H. J. Oliver 30 \ has suggested, that Anglicanism, like Hermeticism, was for Vaughan a useful framework for a genuine but intermittent mysticism, then the prevalence of couplet forms becomes more significant. As the disciplines of orthodox religious observance are always there when the actual transforming vision is not, so in Vaughan"s poetry the discipline and order of the couplet remain when the dawning of a new 'order® does not come and the vision is obscured in mist. The couplet can become merely a vehicle for instruction, as in the many orthodox exercises of Part II of Silex Scintillans; it is often used in a mechanical way. But in several of Vaughan's most successful poems it provides a flexible and expressive framework for the 172 same search for unity and light that has been observed in the irregular poems« "The Retreate," the only one of Vaughan's well-known poems to be composed entirely in couplets, has received attention more because of its supposed foreshadowing of Wordsworth and the childhood vision than because of its own technical and formal meritSo It is essential to a study of Vaughan8 s own search motif, particularly in view of its muted, elegiac tone„ There is little sense of immediate anticipation, for in this poem the 'discovery' has been made already at the beginning. Because of this, the kind of forward.movement and accompanying structural shifts which characterize many of the irregular poems are no longer appropriate. Now that the poet has correctly "understood this place," he must return to the other place, the "Angell- infancy" in which his search was first begun, When yet I had not walkt above A mile, or two, from my first love, And looking back (at that short space,) Could see a glimpse of his bright-face. •(11.419, 11.7-10) The first twenty-line section of the poem is a complex meditation on the opening exclamation, as formally balanced within itself as the couplets which make it up. Present estrangement and past unity are juxtaposed by means of four distinct, four-line, parallel clauses, a "before" clause on either side of the two 173 "when" clauses, suggesting the restriction of that past vision within the confines of the present. For now the soul is divided against itself. Where before it could be at one with the celestial thought, the bright face and the gilded flower, its various parts now corrupt each other: Before I taught my tongue to wound My Conscience with a sinfull sound, Or had the black art to dispence A sev* rail sinne to ev'ry sence. (11.15-18) In the last couplet as in the first of this section Vaughan brings together time present and past, fragmentation and whole- ness, in one of his most famous images: "But felt through all this fleshly dresse / Bright shootes of everlastingnesse." So con- vincingly does this couplet, with its vivid concreteness, bridge the great gap of time, that the second section of the poem seems almost to be an afterthought, similar in effect to the opening of the second section of " The Water-fall." But the discords of the present assert themselves again when after six smoothly- flowing lines the vision of the "shady city" finally disappears and the first of the two "but" clauses brings about a new feeling of separateness: "But (ah!) my soul with too much stay / Is drunk, and staggers in the way." The emphatic breaks after "drunk" and "way" disrupt the basic rhythm in a striking confirm- ation of the sense of the lines, but this rhythm is restored in the last four lines: 174 Some men a forward motion love. But I by backward steps would move, And when this dust falls to the urn In that state I came return. (11.420, 11.29-32) "Backward" and "forward" balance each other like the "before" and "when" clauses of the first section; but here the effect is rather that of mutual cancellation. The final couplet moves with a slow, falling cadence which contrasts with the rising cadence of the last couplet of the first section and brings us back in a full circle to the opening lines of the poem. Thus, a series of subtle rhythmical and grammatical juxtapositions works in close association with the couplet base and the opposed image pattern to produce a total realization of the search for unity—not now a forward moving search through successive states but a retreat back through time to the source of all that is constant, to that unity whose presence seems to 31 be suggested throughout the poem by the couplet's slow music. Vaughan1s use of this meter is nowhere else as successful as in "The Retreate." In other poems where it is used unvaryingly, it can easily become merely a method of stringing together a series of impersonal moralistic comments, as in "St. Mary Magdalen" (11.507) or "Fair and young light" (11.513). Or, when not held together by any sense of dominant movement or fixed purpose, it can result merely in the poet spreading himself too 175 thin, over too little matter, as in "Misery" (11.472). In poems of celebration Vaughan usually chooses to avoid the couplet, though exceptions occur in "Easter Hymn" (11.457), where a combination in the first half of trochaic feet and feminine endings produces an unfortunate doggerel-like effect, and in "White Sunday" (11.485), where a long series of "ifs" and "buts" results only in inappropriate equivocation. In many of his most successful poems, however, Vaughan chooses to modify the closed couplet form with a number of simple variations which affect line length, rhyme scheme and stanza pattern, but involve no radical departure from the couplet base. "Cock-crowing," for instance, maintains an octosyllabic pattern throughout, but is organized by stanzas made up of four lines of alternating rhyme and two lines forming a regular closed couplet. This stanza pattern allows the poet to use the first four lines for exclamation, conjecture and questioning, out of which emerges the authoritative affirmation of the last two. In the first stanza we can see how in the first four lines alternate rhyme and enjambment are a preparation for the theme which does not appear with full clarity and simplicity until the couplet: 176 Father of lightsi what Sunnie seed, What glance of day hast thou confin'd Into this bird? To all the breed This busie Ray thou hast assign'd; Their magnetisme works all night. And dreams of Paradise and light. (11.488, 11.1-6) The final couplets of each stanza in the first half of the poem provide a series of discoveries and affirmations which arise directly from the more complex texture of the preceding lines and convey a sense of the real immanence of the "father of lights." By the end of the fourth stanza the shift in emphasis from bird to individual soul is complete, and the couplet might well be the conclusion of a quite satisfying poem: "Seeing thy seed abides in me, / Dwell thou in it, and I in thee." But as in other poems there is a change in thought and tone, and the second half is full of the images of darkness, shadows, and the veil which separates the soul from God. The note of affirmation contained in the couplets of the first half disappears, and these later couplets are tied in much more closely with the argument of the rest of the stanzas. The fifth stanza is made virtually indivisible by the repetition of "this veyle" at the beginning of the first, third and fifth lines. In the last stanza "0 take it off I" is repeated in the first and fifth lines, and so the poem ends with a sustained prayer in marked contrast to the more logical deductions of the first half of the poem. 177 A similar stanza pattern is found in "Rules and Lessons," an uneven poem which shows that in Vaughan the couplet's influence was not at all times salutary. In "Cock-crowing" the interaction between the couplet and the four preceding lines is always significant, building up at the end to the point where the two parts merge in unified prayer. The "lesson which the bird, as part of nature, provides is not so simply applied as the first half of the poem suggests. In "Rules and Lessons," however, the couplets supply only a long string of moral tags whose sound and sense often jar with the rest of the stanzas. Despite a carefully drawn up 'program' in which the natural phenomena of a single day become the pattern for man's whole devotional life, the poem should not be read as an organically developed whole. It is a simple series of variations on one theme. But we need examine only one repre- sentative stanza to see that two different organizing principle are pulling against each other: Walk with thy fellow-creatures: note the hush And whispers amongst them. There's not a Spring, Or Leafe but hath his Morning-hymn; Each Bush And Oak doth know I AM; canst thou not sing? 0 leave thy Cares, and follies', go this way And thou art sure to prosper all the day. (11.436, 11.13-18) The brightness of the morning-vision is conveyed with great effectiveness in the first four lines by the way in which the verse, through unpredictable emphases and varying caesural breaks, seeks to free itself from the basic four-line pattern. But this sense of freedom and expansion is checked by the imposed authority of the couplet, where it is not so much the mediocrity of thought as the inappropriateness of the new rhythmic order which produces the sense of deflation. This exact pattern is not repeated in every stanza—sometimes a whole stanza is devoted to a description of the Creation, in which case the couplet loses its rigid outline and merges with the rest (see stanzas 15, 16, 22, 23); at other times a whole stanza becomes a moral tag, in which case the final couplet exerts its power over the whole. The first four lines show the same rigid structure as the last two, and the short, periodic sentences take on the movement of the wagging finger rather than the spontaneous vitality of the natural world (see stanzas 6-9). It is as if the "Mysteries" of the mornings, the "restless motions," the "running Lights" and the Vast Circling Azure" of noon—the day's great movement of "Rise, hight, and Descent"—are being forced into a smaller, narrower scheme. The weaknesses of this poem, the great distance between its high and its low points, are worthy of note because they indicate that Vaughan's 179 choice of poetic forms was often much less sure than that of Donne, Herbert and Traherne, all of whom found their own appropriate ways of conveying the same kind of expansive vision and the "moral" it contains. In "Rules and Lessons" there is no active search for meaning, no personal engagement, no inner movement through different states of mind and feeling. Vaughan's vision is most effective when it remains elusive, mysterious and ultimately independent of the things of this world—when it is suggested, not described. One may refer again to "The Morning-watch," where a bright vision is described, yet the poem concludes with the "mistie shrowd" and the "Curtain*d grave" which keep the vision still distant, still unattainable. In one great poem only, "The World," is the vision apparently described rather than suggested-—described in a minuteness of detail which has led to considerable critical dispute over whether the vision was really experienced, and whether the poem 32 is in any way a unified whole. It should be noticed first, perhaps, that the actual ring of eternity is described only once in the whole poem: it is calm and bright. The rest of the poem, as its title indicates* describes the world of time, "like a vast shadow," and it is essentially from the standpoint of this world of time that the poem is written. As in "Regeneration" 180 and "The Search/' the poet himself is instructed by a mysterious whisper—he does not, until the end of the poem, know exactly which is the way "where you might tread the Sun, and be / More bright than he." In "The World" the couplet is used in such a way that its initial force at the beginning of each stanza is modified by a rhyming three-stress line that follows immediately after. The subsequent pattern of five-stress lines alternating with two- and three-stress lines retains the rhyme scheme and the metrical authority of the opening pentameter couplet. The same pattern gives the poem a constantly varying movement and a lyrical lightness rarely found in other poems of a didactic nature, and binds it together into one rhythmical whole. "The World" is for Vaughan an unusually 'complete" poem. The image of the ring itself, mentioned explicitly only at the beginning and the end, encloses all the allegorical figures and their separate actions, as does the sustained metrical pattern. The last two lines take us back to the first two, but the change which occurs from the opening vision, through its detailed explanation, to the final assertion of the doctrine of election, is clearly seen and heard in the metrical variation which is found in each stanza, and in the poem as a whole. At the beginning the couplet is 'extended,' the great vision flows over into a third rhyming and appositive line: 181 I saw Eternity the other night Like a great Ring of pure and endless light. All calm, as it was bright. (11.466, 11.1-3) But at the end the ultimate distance of man from this vision is conveyed by the restriction of the last antithetical, "truncated" couplet: This Ring the Bride-groome did for none provide But for his bride. (11.467, 11.59-60) "The World" differs somewhat from most of the poems I have examined in that the vision actually precedes the "search." But its poetic method is shared by many of the most successful poems, where a regular stanzaic pattern is made up of various modifications of the couplet base, and where the strong frame- work provided by this base allows for pleasing variations in line length and subtle changes of mood. This is the essence of Vaughan's counterpoint. It lacks the finer musicality of Herbert because of its lesser range, particularly in the matter of rhyme, and it only rarely suggests the harmony between individual soul and God which informs The Temple. Silex Scintillans does not approach Herbert3 s complete- ness—it illuminates by sudden sparks and flashes rather than by a sustained light. But out of the varying accents of Vaughan's verse arise the intense moments and images for which the poet is chiefly remembered. It is not that such moments and images are 182 merely happy discoveries in otherwise bad poems. To examine more closely the structure of the verse itself is to discover that these moments and images cannot be isolated, that they can in many cases be fully experienced and understood only by looking at the larger structure in which they occur. Thus the ring of light is the central symbol of a poem which, despite apparent changes in tone, remains unified not only by this symbol, but by a metrical and stanzaic structure which in its own way 'explains' the symbol and makes it live in the senses as in the intellect. In the same way, "Gods silent, searching flight" and "His still, soft call" become more meaningful when they are seen to be reflected in the structure of each stanza of "The Night." Out of the interweaving pattern of sound wrought in the first four lines comes the response of the concluding couplet with its sense of balance and commerce between earth and heaven— such a commerce as Nicodemus first knew and which the poet seeks to know as well. But the poet's own "searching flight" is full of longing and uncertainty. In the final stanza of the poem the image of the "deep, but dazling darkness" is locked up in four lines whose dislocations in rhyme and meter give a peculiar added weight to the fourth line: 183 There is in God (some say) A deep, but dazling darkness; As-men here Say it is late and dusky, because they See not all clear. (11.523, 11.49-52) But the ways in which men try to describe God, and thus define their own search, are confused. This confusion is a product of the disordered self which in the clarity of the final couplet disappears in the longed for new order where self and God are one: 0 for that night', where I in him Might live invisible and dim. (11.53-54) For further knowledge of this new order which Vaughan seemed never quite to attain, we must turn to Traherne. 184 FOOTNOTES Works, p.xlii. 2 The Works of Henry Vaughan, edD L. C. Martin, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1914), 11.391. All subsequent references are to this edition. 3 The following works all take as their point of departure Vaughan?s essential originality: R. A. Durr, On the Mystical Poetry of Henry Vaughan (Cambridge, Mass., 1962); E. C. Pettet, Of Paradise and Light (Cambridge, 1960); Ross Garner, Henry Vaughan: Experience and the Tradition (Chicago, 1959). See also F. E. Hutchinson, Henry Vaughan: A Life and Interpretation (Oxford, 1947); Helen White, The Metaphysical Poets: A Study in Religious Experience (New York, 1962), Chapter 11; Robert Ellrodtj. Les Poetes Metaphysiques Anglais (Paris, 1960) , II, Chapter 3. 4 For an account of these imitations, see Hutchinson's Works, pp.xl-xlii. 5 The suddenness and apparent intensity of Vaughan's conversion has been much commented on: see particularly Hutchinson, White, and E. L. Marilla, "The Religious Conversion of Henry Vaughan," RES, XXI (1945), 15-22. The nature of this conversion and its - essential difference from the experience of Herbert is, I believe best revealed in those poems in which Vaughan anticipates and searches for the bliss to come, as opposed to the generally less interesting poems written within a more orthodox scriptural and doctrinal framework. ^ In this regard I feel that attempts to read the poetry as auto- biographical statement are misguided. Frank Kermode makes the same point in "The Private Imagery of Henry Vaughan," RES, I (1950), 206-225. He discusses the relationship between the poet's own religious experience and the images and symbols, often traditional in nature, which he uses to describe it, and suggests that in his best poems Vaughan uses traditional images and symbols in a poet's way, "which is not the way of the philosopher or mystic" (p.209). It is still possible, however, that Vaughan's use of a traditional terminology helped to give shape and form to what remained undefined in his own experience. 7 The English Works of George Herbert, 3 vols. (London, 1905), 1.141. 185 IV "Counterpoint in Herbert," _SP, XXXV (1938), 57. 9 p.10. 1 0 p.11. 1 1 Of Paradise and- Light., p.24. This study of Vaughan includes the only detailed account so far of the poet's meters and rhythms (pp.179-190). Though somewhat brief, it contains valuable insights into a number of poems. A further chapter on "The Unity and Continuity of Silex Scintillans" is also of interest, though I cannot agree that Silex Scintillans "makes . . . its profoundest impact as a whole" (p.196). 1 2 11.183. 1 3 11.198. 1 4 The Paradise Within, p.25. see n.6. 16 See Mary Ellen Rickey, "Vaughan, The Temple and Poetic Form," _SP, LIX (1962) , 162-170. Miss Rickey, in seeking to demonstrate the formal debt which Vaughan owed to The Temple* places, I feel, too much emphasis on these relatively few minor poems. But her reference to "the use of carefully controlled rhyme irregularitie throughout the poems and then the normalizing of them in the last stanza" (p.163) points to one of Vaughan1s main structural devices, and in particular to his distinctive use of the couplet. I will take up this point later in the chapter„ 17 There are of course many allegorical and emblematic figures in Vaughan's poems, but they are not subjected to the kind of analysis that we find in The Temple. I believe they are incidental rather than crucial in Silex Scintillans. See Freeman p.151, for an account of emblem figures in "The World," and Kermode, p.215, n.7, for a number of borrowings from the Emblemes of Francis Quarles. 18 The Art of Marveil's Poetry (London, 1966), p.214. Ellrodt explains the lack of irony and humor in Vaughan from a similar standpoint, but he places more emphasis on the absence of "self- consciousness:" "L1ironie et 1'humour semblent de meme bannis de la vie onirique.- Point d* ambigulte ou il n* est point de self- consciousness" (11.192). 186 IV My discussion will omit poems in which conventional Christian moralizing replaces the sense of wandering and search, and poems which act as commentaries on and extensions of scriptural texts. Such pieces are to be found throughout Silex Scintillans,, as might be expected, this work not being a carefully arranged whole like The Temple, where they occur separately at beginning and end, 2 0 I do not include here linked series of formally different lyrics such as Jonson's "Celebration of Charis," or formally 'irregular' Pindarics such as Dryden's "Alexander's Feast," 21 This kind of identification with the risen Christ is quite common in Vaughan, and is in keeping with the constant theme of regeneration and re-union in God, There is correspondingly less identification with the crucified Chr ist of Calvary, This constitutes in Vaughan a major shift away from Donne and Herbert, towards Traherne, As Ellrodt says, "II est des lors inevitable qu'il y alt au coeur de la theologie-personnelie du poete . . . 1'attente d'une regeneration mystique, renouvelee en chaque creature, plutot que le fait historique de 1'Incarnation" (11,234). 22 Similar shifts from detailed, specific images of things in this worId to a general, unspecific evocation of the worId to come can also be found in "The Proffer," "Regeneration," "The Timber" and "The World," to name only a few where the shift is particularly•apparent, .Whether in the outside worId or in the seIf, particularity implies separateness, and separateness is anathema to Vaughan, ' 23 The 'authorized' version of Denham's "Cooper's Hill" appeared in 1655, the same year as the complete Silex Scintillans. If not acquainted with this version at the time of writing "Ascension-day," Vaughan may have read the poem in one of its earlier pirated-editions. There are certainly strong formal resemblances. Compare for instance the lines quoted.with Denham* s famous description of the Thames: Though deep, yet clear, though gentle, yet not dull, Strong without rage, without ore-flowing full. (11.191-192) 2 4 Pettet, p.127. 187 IV Ellrodt claims that this poem is the one great exception to Vaughan*s besetting weakness—"impuissance a unir 1* image et l'idee dans le symbole" (11.258)„ 26 Martz, The Poem of the Mind. p.51. See also Jean-Jacques Denonain, Themes et Formes de la Poesie "Metaphysique" (Algiers, 1956), pp.441-444. 27 On the Poems of Henry Vaughan (London, 1927), p.46. 2 8 p.181. 2 9 11.175. 30 -The Mysticism of Henry Vaughan: A Reply," JEGP, LIII (1954), 352-360. O 1 The same power of successive couplets to suggest unity within a time scheme which embraces past, present and future was recognized by other poets of the period as well. See particularly Jonson* s "To Penshurst," King's "The Exequy," Herbert* s "The Church Militant," Denham's "Cooper* s Hill" and Marvell* s-"The Garden" and "Upon Appleton House." . 32 See James D. Simmonds, "Vaughan1s Masterpiece and its Critics: 'The World' revaluated," SEL, II, 1 (Winter 1962), 77-93. CHAPTER FOUR Thomas Traherne I In his study of Vaughan, R„ A. Durr makes the following comment on Traherne, whom he sees following on in the same "mystical" tradition: "His poetry . . . seems less accomplished, though it may be we have not yet read it correctly."1 Since Durr•s premise is that Vaughan's poetry is a unique reflection of his own experience, and is not to be judged by the standards we apply to Herbert, we may assume that Traherne too deserves to be judged on his own terms. Yet we may ask why it should be felt that we have not yet read Traherne's poetry "correctly." At first glance Traherne would seem to offer no difficulties, since 189 he is one of the most open, the most naive, the least "subtle" of the seventeenth-century religious poets. There is much repetition and little variation in the manner and content of all his •writings, both poetry and prose. There are virtually no symbols and no conceits, and there is little syntactic complexity. In his poems there is less logical argument and development of ideas than in any of the poets so far studied, and the tone remains much the same throughout—fervent and enthusiastic. From this we might assume that any difficulty in assessing Traherne the poet comes not from what we find in his poetry, but from what we do not find; and if what we do not find is what we consider essential to all good poetry, then Traherne may be considered as interesting for his "ideas8 but a relative failure as a poet. An adverse judgment of the poetry has in fact been made by many people who have yet found much beauty in the Centuries of Meditations,, and have been receptive to Traherne1 s 'vision.1' Helen White, for instance, has found him "sadly deficient in that sustained emotional glow of sound and movement that is the peculiar life of poetry," "flat in sustained emotional pitch, ? heavy and aimless in movement." Louis Martz says that "the power of Traherne®s mind seems hampered by the necessity of making ends meet in verse," and that his poetry "too often 190 consists primarily in versified statement, assertion, or 3 exclamation." One of Traherne"s editors speaks of a lyrical impulse "insufficient to convert the thought into the fine A gold of poetry," and even the poet's most enthusiastic admirer and biographer says of the poems that "there is not a vital connection between form and content," that his form is "only a dress, embroidered and arranged with some care." 5 The emphasis varies, but a consensus remains: Traherne's poetry was an attempt to put into verse what had been, or was to be, better expressed in the form of the prose Centuries. My present concern is not so much to rescue Traherne the poet, as to suggest that we encounter in his work problems which have a wider bearing on the question of religious poetry than is usually assumed—problems which make it legitimate to ask whether we have yet read Traherne correctly. There are three immediate problems which lead me to repeat Durr's question here. First: can we make the kind of clear distinction between the poetry and the prose that has been readily made in the past, or is there in fact a closer relation- ship, a formal and structural bond that would make it more difficult to reject the one while wholeheartedly accepting the other? A glance at the Thanksgivings and the Contemplation, and at the verse we find scattered throughout the Centuries 191 a n d Christian Ethicks, would indicate that Traherne himself made little distinction between poetic and prosaic modes of expression, and indeed blended the two in a way familiar to any reader of the Psalms. We must, I think, formulate an impossibly rigid distinction between propriety in prose and propriety in verse if we are to accept one 'half of Traherne 8s , 6 work and reject the other. The second problem concerns the repeated emphasis which Traherne gives throughout his work to the importance of the forms and structures we perceive in the world around us, and to the nature and ends of creative power. Though generally abstract in tone, and concerned with the essential nature of God and His eternal creative Act, these speculations have an important bearing on the nature of the creative and organizing power that is immediately apparent in the careful and deliberate forms of his verse. I shall only observe for the moment that these speculations differ in some ways from those which underlie our own usual methods of analysing and judging the created forms of poetry. Does Traherne, then, constitute a 8 special case?' The answer lies in the third and most important problem from the point of view of this study: what is Traherne*s relationship to the other poets so far discussed? 192 To approach Traherne as an eccentric original would be to neglect the presence in the earlier poets of similar ideas concerning the nature of the soul and its relationship to God, similar conceptions of the Creation and of the eternal creative Act, and similar poetic forms in which to express them. Traherne carries to an extreme ideas and expressive forms which are present, if not dominant, in the earlier poets. It is important not that Traherne should be made to constitute a special case, but that in him we should see the expression of a kind of religious awareness which is also present, though to a lesser degree, in the poets who preceded him. It is important, too, that, whatever our final judgment of Traherne as a poet may be, we first judge the appropriateness of the expression to this awareness. In this chapter, then, I wish to discuss first the develop- ment in Traherne of those perceptions concerning the soul, God and the Creation which are present to a les ser degree in the earlier poets, and second, to show how the formal expression of these perceptions in Traherne8 s poems accords with formal patterns found also in the earlier poets. I also wish to stress the relationship of Traherne to Donne, the other 'pole' of this study, and to examine the way in which Donne's vision of the soul of Elizabeth Drury is reborn in the poetry of Traherne. 193 Perhaps the first thing to strike the reader of Traherne"s verse is its essential sameness throughout. There is little variation in tone, and even less sense of a developing 'personality5 than in Vaughan. Those attitudes, ranging from rebellion to acceptance and submission, which give such diversity to the poetry of Donne and Herbert and which constitute the many distinct and often opposed 'voices' of these poets, are absent from Traherne. Even though his poetry is ostensibly the most « self-centered' of all the metaphysical poets, consisting as it so often does of extended celebrations of "Myself," there is a curious lack of distinct personality. Traherne's egotism, which to Douglas Bush amounts to a certain 7 "inhumanity," is very different from the egotism of Donne. The complex personality which emerges from the "Holy Sonnets," for instance, is largely a result of a series of encounters between self and God in which the many 'voices' of the self assert, defend, implore, appeal and even pray, but to no effect—more often they succeed in building up a wall which the voice of God cannot penetrate. Only in the Anniversaries, in the great act of celebration of one whose 'personality11 in no way restricted or defined her essential being in God, does the voice of the poet become absorbed in the greatness of the "proclamation"—become, in fact, a transparent, impersonal 194 "trumpet." There are even more "voices' in Herbert, but the progress toward the closer identification of self with God is considerably advanced, since resignation of the self to God's will is at once the state in which all of The Temple is written, and the point of view from which the different voices are controlled and finally united in the greater whole. Vaughan, with little of Herbert's sureness of self-knowledge, nonetheless moves even closer to that mystical identity with God which Herbert for the most part does not actually describe. The lack of self-consciousness and personality which I have noted in Vaughan can be attributed to his constant awareness of the coming transformation of his whole self and personality in the light of eternity„ In Traherne this transformation has already occurred. From the moment of birth, from the first, awareness, the "invisible estate" of Vaughan has been made visible and real, the light not intermittent but constant. The self no longer recognizes barriers or restrictions, and expands freely throughout the universe. Its 8 identity' is the identity of all things. This process of expansion and assimilation is described in "My Spirit:" A Strange Extended Orb of Joy, Proceeding from within. Which, did on evry side convey It self, and being nigh of Kin . To God did evry Way Dilate it self even in an Instant, and Like an Indivisible Centre Stand * • 3 At once Surrounding all Eternitie. 195 We may be reminded here of the soul of Elizabeth Drury, which "ere shee can consider how shee went, / At once is at, and through the Firmament" (Second Anniversary. 11.205-206) ; or of those lines contained within circles which "For once that they the center touch, do touch / Twice the circumference" (11.437- 438). Thus, what was for Donne an ideal state of unity unattainable in this world becomes for Traherne a reality to be experienced in the present. In Traherne, self, soul and God are frequently mentioned and addressed, as in Donne and Herbert, but the distinction between them is no longer clear, since all are interfused. As a result, the individual 'voice® is not distinct, or even separately identifiable, since the only 'personality' is the greater Personality of God. This interfusion represents the last step in a process of interiorization which begins with the disordered microcosm of Donne's "little world," in which mental states come and go "like a fantastique Ague," but from which the ordering presence of God is excluded. The solipsism and despair of Donne's inner drama are present in Herbert, but are held in check by conscience and self-knowledge, and by knowledge of the sufferings of Christ, now admitted to the heart. The walls of the self begin to crumble, and individual personality becomes interfused with the personality of the Son. At the same time the beauty of the 196 Creation is more intensely felt, and with this beauty a new longing for the unity it promises. Vaughan"s use of cosmic imagery and his intense identification with natural processes are further steps in an attempt to encompass within the self the order and beauty of the universe, but it is not until Traherne that the process of interiorization is completed. In Traherne the "little world," the microcosm, is completely reshaped so that now, with the barriers which separated it from the macrocosm dissolved, the two are virtually one. There is finally only one vision, perceived by the soul which is now "A Living Endless Ey," "A Naked Simple Pure Intelligence" ("The Preparative," 11.20, 11.12, 20). We have arrived at that end imagined by Donne for the soul of Elizabeth Drury, "who now is growne all eye." Traherne"s virtual equation of the eye, which implies vision, and the intelligence, which implies understanding, shows a further fulfillment of the promise of the Second Anniversary. For Donne himself, as for all who inhabit the sublunary world, the act of intellect is not on its own capable of realizing the longed for vision. In the "Holy Sonnets" and the Anniversaries Donne frequently tells us that in this world the ends and the means of knowledge are incommensurate. Only in Elizabeth Drury are the distorting 11 spectacles" removed, only in the sight of 197 God are the "object" and the "wit" united. In Herbert, the object of our understanding and the means of our understanding are brought closer together in this world through the enlightened conscience and the presence of Christ in the heart? in Vaughan the immanence of God in the Creation brings closer still the moment when man's knowledge of God will become integral and complete, as in the creatures who, "by some hid sense their Maker gave," participate wholly in the Divine Plan without consciousness of separation. Vaughan's restless search is unsuccessful when its object is conceived of as 'other,' as beyond and outside of the individual soul. It is successful when at unpredictable and unsought for moments object and subject become one, as in "The Water-fall," and the eye and the intelligence are united. Such moments are almost continuous in Traherne—only "custom" separates what God united at man's birth since it is "custom" which makes him wish to acquire that which was his, and part of him, from the beginning. In Traherne the 'infant eye" is only a symbol of the process of unlearning which is necessary for knowledge and vision to become one, and which we can find implied throughout Donne's account of the new knowledge of Elizabeth Drury, who "carries no desire to know, nor sense."9 But what in Donne could be found only after death comes to Traherne at birth. Eternity, Infinity and Love are "Silent Joys" that are felt intuitively within: 198 so at ray Birth All these were unperceivd, yet did appear: Not by Reflexion, and Distinctly known, But, by their Efficacy, all mine own. ("The Improvment," 11.36, 11.81-84) Clearly, the divisions within the self, and between the self and God, which for Donne result in the disparity between our present knowledge and the kind of knowledge enjoyed by the liberated soul of Elizabeth Drury, are manifestations of the greater time-honored division between this world and the next on which the dualism of the Anniversaries is based. Between matter and spirit, and between this world's time and space and the time and space of eternity, exist sharp discontinuities— discontinuities which Traherne attributes simply to custom and false perception. Yet the gap which would seem to separate Donne and Traherne is at least partially bridged by Herbert and Vaughan, each of whom in his own way draws Donne's two worlds closer together—the one through constant emphasis on the efficacy of the Sacraments and Divine Providence and on the Church as the Mystical Body, the other through moments of illumination and through close observation of the harmony in the world of nature. Finally, Herbert's emphasis on the signifi- cance of the soul's life in this world, and Vaughan's on the imminence of its reunion in the next, are reconciled in Traherne, for whom these distinctions exist only in misunderstanding. The 199 soul itself "No Limits will endure." Characteristically, Traherne takes the very idea of duality, expands it to plurality, and rejoices in the new vision: "Tis mean Ambition to desire • A single World: To many I aspire, Tho one upon another hurl'd: Nor will they all, if they be all confin'd. Delight my Mind. ("Insatiableness II," 11.146, 11.7-12) In this movement towards the re-establishing of a cosmic unity within this world and within the individual soul itself, we find a corresponding lessening of the distance between God and man. Despite the personal tone of his address, Donne's emphasis on the single, redemptive figures of Christ and Elizabeth Drury shows a continuing awareness of the need for an intermediary between the human and the divine, so great is the gulf resulting from the Fall when spirit and matter, time and eternity, were first divided. The redemptive Christ figures prominently in The Temple, too., but in the majority of poems God is spoken to, and speaks, as "My Lord." After the early group of Easter poems we find few distinct references to the Trinity, to the Father and the Son so carefully distinguished by Donne; and in several poems, notably "Providence" and "Man," God is an impersonal and almost deistic architect, while man, at the summit of the Creation, His best and most perfect work, seems almost never to have fallen. 200 In Vaughan, as I have indicated previously,10 there is a noticeable shift in emphasis from the Crucified to the Risen Christ, to Christ as a principle of transformation and unity virtually indistinguishable from the central light image of so many poems. In Traherne's poetry, with the restoration and the transformation already accomplished, there is little 11 reference to Christ at all, and God Himself is referred to in the broadest possible way: "Sure there's a GOD (for els there's no Delight) / One Infinit" ("Insatiableness II," 11.147, 11.23-24). Not only is the individual soul now at once the center and the circumference of the Creation, to use both Donne* s and Traherne3s image, but God Himself is imagined by Traherne, in one significant group of poems, as being dependent on man for the full realization of His pleasure: The GODHEAD cannot prize The Sun at all, nor yet the Skies, Or Air, or Earth, or Trees, or Seas, Or Stars, unless the Soul of Man they pleas.12 ("The Demonstration," 11.158, 11.43-46) Such is the nature of God"s love that it had to overflow its own completeness, to extend itself in the Creation, there to be mirrored in the responding soul of man: His Gifts as they to us com down Are infinit, and crown The Soul with Strange Fruitions; yet Returning from us they more value get. (11.37-40) 201 In the recognition that "ours is far more His Bliss / Then his is ours" ("Another," 11.165, 11.2-3), Traherne discovers the fullest possible participation of the Creator in the Creation, the Infinite in the Finite, the One in the Many. The future transformation of the soul which Donne depicted in the Second Anniversary, Herbert in "Love III," and Vaughan in "The Morning-watch," is finally made continuous and present by Traherne, who can now proclaim of God's Creation: "The End Compleat, the Means must needs be so" ("The Anticipation," 11.160, 1.46). By thus bringing into harmony the ends and means of the Creation, Traherne emphasizes what Herbert had emphasized throughout The Temple—that it is only misunderstanding and a willful separation of oneself from Divine Providence that produces perplexity, estrangement and the setting up of false ideals. Herbert, too, like Donne at the end of the Anniver sar ies, conceived of his own poetry as a celebration and an embodiment of God* s unified creative Act. Traherne himself expresses the essence of the poetic function when in the third Century he says of the Psalmist: "Enflamd with Lov it was his great Desire, / To Sing Contemplat Ponder and Admire" (1.151, 11.29-30), and of God Himself, "He is an Act that doth Communicate" ("The Antici- 13 . pation," 11.162, 1.99). But in considering the special form 202 which this celebration takes in Traherne8s poetry, and the difference of his poetic means from those of his predecessors, we must be aware of the transitions I have briefly outlined above. In the gradual change from a distinct sense of individual personality to a sense of transformation and larger identity with all things, and from an emphasis on the Trini- tarian God and the suffering Christ to an emphasis on one indivisible Spirit, we see a constant movement toward synthesis, toward a breaking down of hierarchic order and its replacement by a new kind of order embracing the self, the world, the universe in a totality where higher and lower, inner and outer, ends and means, are no longer separate. Such a totality is envisaged by all three of the earlier poets, and their poetry is concerned with the means of achieving it. But Traherne9s poetry describes the very experience of this totality, and in his creative act, as in the creative Act of God, the means and the ends become fused. I will attempt to illustrate the importance of this fusion by a brief reconsideration of two poetic 'means' which I have described in the preceding chapters as basic structural principles. First is the actual development, the inner progress of a poem from a beginning to an 'end.' In the case of Donne, Herbert and Vaughan, the 'end* which inspires the poetry is 203 greater knowledge of God. The poem itself, as a means of achieving this end, proceeds by way of logical, analytic argument, as in Donne, or by dialogue, emblem or narrative, as in Herbert, or by Vaughan's 'search' through association. Thus the poem presents a progressive unfolding of meaning, and its sequence is a logical sequence in time and space. As the physical beginning and end of the poem are not the same (with the limited exception of 'circular' poems like "La Corona"), neither is the 'end,' in the sense of our greater knowledge of God, the same as the poetic means used to arrive there. Thus, the Anniversaries of Donne and the dialogues and narratives of Herbert do not actually express the knowledge of God, but rather the way in which that knowledge is to be attained. I have indicated, however, certain exceptions, in Herbert particularly, where there is little actual development or progress and where stanzas could be rearranged or left out with no real structural harm being done. In these poems a principle of repetition of an immediately stated theme replaces a principle of progressive unfolding of meaning. The 'discovery' made, the. poem 'goes' nowhere; rather the poet draws out his discovery for as long as he feels inclined. In this sense, poetic ends and means have come much closer together. In the 204 poetry of Traherne, who constantly stresses the identity of the Means and Ends of God's creative Act, we can expect to find a similar principle throughout. Apart from a relatively small number of 'narratives' where there is a simple temporal sequence, we do in fact find little development, in the sense of a progressive unfolding of meaning, and little 3 structure,8 in the sense of logical arrangement and subordination of thought. It is this absence which gives to his poetry its apparent sameness and which defines for many his limitations as a poet. The other structural principle we will not find in Traherne is closely allied to lack of 'development,' and involves the outer forms and the internal figures, symbols and situations which give order and pattern to that development in the earlier poets. In Donne it is the sonnet form and such figures as Christ and Elizabeth Drury which contain and give direction to the development of feeling and idea; in Herbert it is dramatic situation, religious symbol, and the overall design of the Temple itself; in Vaughan, significantly, there are fewer controlling forms and figures, but the dominating image patterns remain, and they too give direction to his more 'wandering8 poems. But in Traherne, there being little significant development within his poems, there is little corresponding need for controlling forms or figures. The ornate stanza forms do not really direct 205 and give shape to the thought—the thought rather flows into and fills them; nor is there anything inevitable in the form a particular poem takes: it is sufficient that it should be visually pleasing, and suggestive in itself of the perfect order which the poet seeks to convey. Similarly, the conscious intellectual complexity of Donne's Elizabeth Drury or of Herbert's narratives and dialogues, and the structured hierarchies of meaning they contain, are foreign to Traherne5s mode of perception—the infant eye which absorbs without defining, the soul which expands ever outward to embrace the one true order. This order is the 'unstructured* interpenetration of the one and the many, and it must be conveyed directly with as little as possible intervening between God, poet and reader. It is the absence of inner development and of controlling figures which is primarily responsible for Traherne3s 'simplicity.' Yet this simplicity is obviously not that of, say, a courtly song or pastoral lyric, where familiar, conventional thoughts and images may also lack any significant development. Traherne's simplicity depends on no familiar literary convention, but on the stripping away from his language of all particularity, all metaphor and 'device,' all rhetorical figures and tropes whose own structure and ingenuity might stand in the way of a clear perception of the unity of God, the world and the self. 206 The result in Traherne is almost the exact opposite of what we ordinarily mean by "lyric simplicity'—his poems have a degree of abstractness and intellectual complexity which, unlike Donne's or Herbert* s, is devoid of any immediate appeal to the senses. This degree of abstraction is perhaps the single most important principle in Traherne"s 'simplicity.' It may be felt that a highly abstract language and an essentially simple vision cannot come together in any poetically satisfying way. The combination is not common in English poetry, but I believe that Traherne was able to achieve it with considerable skill. II To understand how a combination of abstraction and simplicity determines Traherne's forms, we must begin at the level of word and image, since it is at this level that the larger formal units of the stanza and the whole poem find their beginnings. Thus we have a formal principle which differs in significant ways from those which we have seen in the earlier poets. Where logical argument and complex figures and situations are present, they will largely determine the form a particular poem will take, and thus almost any successful poem of Donne, 207 Herbert or Vaughan has a unique form appropriate to that particular poemc Traherne's poems, on the other hand, not having as their formal determinants specific arguments, symbols or situations, but direct apprehension of the unity of all things, become formal variations on one basic, unchanging pattern—simple in essence yet capable of an almost unlimited number of elaborations. It is in this way that all of Traherne's poems become virtually one poem, united by the same basic pattern and the same unchanging perception. Of course, it is possible to claim that The Temple, top, is virtually one poem, united by the larger framework which contains the individual poems. It is possible to claim also that Herbert's several groupings of poems within The Temple are like similar groupings in Traherne, The difference lies in the fact that the unifying principle of The Temple is never wholly apparent in any one individual poem, but only in the totality of all the poems as they bring together the separate stages in the journey of the Christian soul. In Traherne, on the other hand, there is scarcely a single poem which does not announce somewhere, in a single word or groups of words, the entire theme of interpenetration, and which does not relate to all the other poems in a way which the 14 theme itself suggests. 208 Though the inner ordering principle of his poetry is different from that of the other poets, Traherne's use of words and images follows an established traditionB Herbert himself, in the "Jordan" poems and "The Forerunners," and by allusion and implication elsewhere, stresses the importance of avoiding the kinds of tropes and devices which obscure with unnecessary ornament the plain and simple beauty of the Christian theme. In his important introductory poem, "The Author to the Critical Peruser," Traherne virtually repeats Herbert's theme: The naked Truth in many faces shewn, Whose inward Beauties very few hav known, A Simple Light, transparent Words, a Strain That lowly creeps, yet maketh Mountains plain, Brings down the highest Mysteries to sense And Keeps them there? that is Our Excellence: At that we aim? to th'end thy Soul might see With open Eys thy Great Felicity. (II.2, 11.1-8) Herbert speaks in "Jordan II" of his previous habit of "Curling with metaphors a plain intention, / Decking the sense as if it were to sell" (Hutchinson, p.102, 11.5-6). Traherne evidently remembers these lines when he goes on to speak of "No curling Metaphors that gild the Sence, / Nor pictures here, no painted Eloquence" (11.11-12). Avoiding "Poetick Strains and Shadows," his words will flow in "A clearer Stream than that which Poets feign, / Whose bottom may, how deep so'ere, be seen" (11.18-19). There is nothing unusual in such a rejection of mere artifice, 209 particularly in a poet writing in the middle of the seventeenth century. What is striking in Traherne*s verse is the extent to which he actually follows his own advice, consistently stripping from his language all ingenious trope and metaphor, and all but the simplest and least connotative adjectives and similes, Herbert's praise of simplicity and his use of colloquialism, and homely metaphor belie, in a sense, his real achievement— verse whose verbal density and calculated ambiguity show the way in which he exploited the very "metaphors" and "inventions" he seems to reject. It is clear, however, that Herbert only wished to avoid poetic figures and devices which served no functional purpose. He does not deny that "fictions" become a verse? he does deny that "fictions onely" become a verse. In "The Forerunners," clearly a late poem, he says that he has rescued "sweet phrases," "lovely metaphors" and "enchanting language" from the "stews and brothels," and brought them to Church "well drest and clad." But in one poem at least Herbert forsakes his usual metaphors and figures for a sparer, more generalized diction. "Man" not only anticipates Traherne structurally and thematically, it also foreshadows the later poet's avoidance of specific, delimiting description in order that the greater and more universal design may emerge more 210 clearly. Herbert's unmodified "fountains," "starres," "Musick and light" draw attention not to themselves but to the general harmony of which they and man are parts. In Vaughan this kind of unmodified, general image becomes a dominant characteristic. As we move in "The Search" and "Ascension-day" from the limit- ations of this world to the unbounded freedom of the next, we move also from very specific images and figures to the simple, unspecific "Springs," "Planets" and "Streams" of the new "bright world." As the true unity which the poet seeks comes closer, the language takes on an increasingly abstract quality; the transparent, cool and watry wealth" and the "liquid, loose Retinue" of the waterfall become the "useful Element" and the "Fountain of life;" life itself becomes "A quickness» which mv God hath kistit" and God "A deep, but dazling darkness." Vaughan®s bare images of stars, light and darkness are always suggestive of something which lies beyond, something not of this worId but informing it in a mysterious way. When exact and specific images do occur, they are frequently combined with highly abstract words, as in the famous "Bright shootes of everlastingnesse." Within each individual "sacred leaf" lies, undivided, "The fulness of the Deity." Thus it is that the great vision of the soul of Elizabeth Drury, free from the confines of earthly time and space, finds 211 its actual verbal embodiment in the later poets in a language of increasing generality and abstractness. What was untypical in Herbert becomes typical in Vaughan, and all-pervasive in Traherne, as a glance at the titles of his poems indicates. The degree of abstraction can be seen in the following stanza from "Right Apprehension:" What Newness once suggested to. Now clearer Reason doth improv, my View: By NoveIty my Soul was taught At first; but now Reality my Thought Inspires: And I With clarity Both ways instructed am; by Sense Experience, Reason and Intelligence. (11.124, 11.33-40) Such an example amply bears out Helen White's observation that "in general he turned away from the delights and the tempt- ations of imagery to put his trust in the bare relation of 15 ideas," and it is perhaps the completeness of such a turning away which most disconcerts the reader for whom the sensuous apprehension of a truth remains the basis of poetry. Traherne's stanza is not obscure—there are no dark conceits of shadowed meanings—the subject is communicated with a functional clarity and bare directness. What is missing is the means whereby the senses are gratified at the same time as the intellect is instructed. Susanne Langer says of all works of art: 212 The production of such expressive structures requires some more tangible conception than the idea which is yet inarticulate, to guide the artist's purpose. Nothing is so elusive as an unsymbolized conception . . „ So the usual anchor for such intuitions is an object in which the artist sees possibilities of the form he envisages and wants to create.16 The three earlier poets gave substance and sensuous appeal to their religious ideas and intuitions through their use of dramatic situations, symbolic figures and concrete images and metaphors. But if the means are identical with the ends in the poet5s creation as in God1s Creation, then only the barest, most general and unadorned statement will be trans- parent enough to convey to the reader's experience, without any intermediary regulating devices, the divine presence in all things. That which is concrete, specific and directly appealing to the senses—that which, in short, draws attention first of all to itself—cannot, according to Traherne, convey directly the omnipresence of God: To walk abroad is, not with Eys, But Thoughts, the Fields to see and prize. ("Walking," 11.135, 11.1-2) Through such figures as Elizabeth Drury, the crucified and risen Christ, the waterfall and the cock, and even through the appropriate form of the poem itself, the divine presence may be revealed, the divine unity embodied as far as this world allows. 213 But it is significant that Vaughan, in whom we see a con- siderable reduction in the number and importance of controlling forms and figures, should be the one to emphasize so often the inefficacy of all things in this world. It is when the divine unity is felt to be most imminent that any kind of 'substitute1 or symbol for it is least acceptable—and thus the cry which recurs throughout Silex Scintillans; "remove me hence unto that hill, / Where I shall need no glass" ("They are all gone into the world of light," Martin, 11.484, 11.39-40). In Traherne the "glass" has gone, along with most of the other formal and symbolic devices which the earlier poets used to make the distant vision clearer to earthbound eyes. Finally, one may summarize this casting-off process by noting in Traherne the virtual disappearance of the 'meta- physical conceit.1 In Donne the essence of the conceit lies in the discovery and exploitation of new, unexpected relation- ships between things normally considered incompatible. We may find such a relationship in a single striking image such as the spheres joined together like beads on a string; or it may govern the structure of an entire poem, as in "Goodfriday, 1613" or the Anniversaries, where earthly and heavenly 'correspondence form the structural and thematic framework. But the mind which 214 perceives surprising new relationships between things does not remove the separateness of those things; Donne's analytic mind finds much complex and instructive relationship, but not fusion: only Elizabeth Drury after death has the vision which can deny difference and unite rather than merely juxtapose the disparities we perceive on earth„ The most notable modification which Herbert makes in his use of the conceit is in a lessening of the dualistic tension which so often characterizes the device in Donne. By combining different levels of meaning in one figure rather than juxtaposing two figures, Herbert insists much more than Donne on the actual interpenetration of human and divine, finite and infinite. By the use of this device, as in "Affliction I" and "Love unknown," and by the use of sacramental imagery in conceits throughout The Temple, Herbert emphasizes not the difference between things earthly and heavenly, but rather the immanence in all of the divine spirit. Vaughan feels this immanence even more strongly, but without Herbert's sense of Christian form and ritual. The reluctance or inability in Vaughan to accept any order other than the total divine order produces in his verse a greater simplicity and generality of image, and far fewer complex conceits than we find in either Donne or Herbert. When the goal is the virtual disappearance of the 215 individual self and soul and the assumption of all that is particular and separate into an undifferentiated unity, then the sense of fixed relationship that the metaphysical conceit suggests is considerably weakened. When in Traherne the finite self has already become one with the infinity of God, the conceit disappears altogether. The special relationship which governs the conceit and keeps its part distinct is replaced by a fusion in which, as Ellrodt says, "II n'y a plus conjonction de realites unies mais distinctes; il y a „ 17 osmose." This 'osmosis' in Traherne produces at the simple verbal level two different effects. One, mentioned already, is a high degree of abstraction, seen in the great number of abstract nouns and vague, unspecific adjectives like "real," "great," "glorious," "sweet" and "blessed." The other effect is that created by long lists of simple nouns and adjectives such as we find, for instance, in "Wonder:" Proprieties themselvs were mine. And Hedges Ornaments? Walls, Boxes, Coffers, and their rich Contents Did not Divide my Joys, but shine. (11.10, 11.57-60) Or a more extreme example from "Eden:" Joy, Pleasure, Beauty, Kindness, Glory, Lov, Sleep, Day, Life, Light, Peace, Melody, my Sight; : My Ears and Heart did fill, and freely mov. (11.12, 11.15-18) 216 Here we see within the line itself the kind of 'order' which suggests a breakdown of all fixed relationship. The verbal structure is such that, within the limits of an undemanding prosody, any order of words is possible, and any number of words is possible. This principle has been observed already in Herbert, but only at the stanza level. In "Providence" and "Man" the stanza sequence could conceivably have been extended or rearranged with little change in meaning or effect, since they are poems constructed according to no rigid pattern of time or place or logical argument. In some poems of Vaughan the principle of 'interchangeability' can be seen at work within the stanza itself, as in "Rules and Lessons" and "Son-dayes." In Traherne this principle is dominant. The replacement of the principle of fixed relationship with the principle of interpenetration results in language which combine abstractness with an extreme syntactic simplicity, amounting 18 at times to whole stanzas of sustained apposition. Traherne' interchangeable ' lists8 are as simple and directly functional in their own way as Herbert's hieroglyphs: they convey the poet's repeated theme that all things viewed correctly, with the infant eye, are equally infused with the whole nature of God, while all things viewed incorrectly, for themselves alone, are equally valueless. 217 The kind of progression which I have attempted to trace formally and thematically from Donne to Traherne may perhaps be seen as a regression, involving on the one hand a loss of sensuous and rhetorical beauty in the poetry itself, and on the other, a return to a kind of unsophisticated primitivism. On both issues it may be wiser to speak not of progression or regression, but of change. At the same time, the idea of regression in the sense of 'retreat5 is firmly embedded in Traherne, and to a limited extent in Vaughan before him, and this idea must be contrasted with the idea of forward movement— •progress* in time—that is so prevalent in Donne, In his poetry images of death and apocalypse recur constantly; images of birth hardly appear at all. There is little in his religious poems that is backward looking, and no attempt to recreate past experience or in any way to recollect in tran- quillity. In Herbert, however, we find an increasing pre- occupation with past events, but only for the meaning these events hoId for the present-—they are never idealized or seen as belonging in a time of innocence. In Vaughan the idea of regression to such an actual time of innocence, associated with infancy, appears almost fully developed in "The Retreate/'19 and there are hints of it in other poems where memory and anticipation appear to be very close together. But it is 218 Traherne who speaks unequivocally of the return to the uncorrupted state from which we came, and who says that, in order to gain the kind of vision Donne projects in the Second Anniversary, "I must becom a Child again" ("Innocence," 11.18, 1.60) . To become a child again one must in a literal sense go backwards in time, and many of Traherne's poems are written in the past tense; but this should not obscure the essential meaning of Traherne's one major metaphor. Traherne1s Child transcends time, just as Donne's Elizabeth Drury does. The vision both embody is independent of the direction we must move in order to attain it—a forward "progress* through death in Donne, a backward 9 regression0 to birth in Traherne. Whichever way we take, whether we find in Elizabeth Drury or the Child "our best, and worthiest booke," we must engage in a process of unlearning to gain the true knowledge which each represents. Custom and habit, as well as the fantastic theories of misguided intellect, must be cast off. But for Donne the perfect knowledge and vision of the soul are to be found only after its release from the world and ascent to heaven, while in Traherne perfect knowledge and vision are to be found only after the soul's descent and release into the world. Donne's "Up, up, my drowsie Soule" may be contrasted with Traherne*s "How like an 219 Angel came I downI" The soul "that so long / Was Nothing from Eternitie" is made a conscious, sentient being at the moment of birth® In such a way God has extended Himself that His Creation might be more fully enjoyed. The final relationship between Donne's Heaven and Traherne's Eden can be only briefly suggested here; I am more concerned with the way in which these wished-for states are to be attained. In the Anniversaries the great mass of the world's learning is contrasted with the one small figure of Elizabeth Drury, who proves that this learning is based on fundamental ignorance. Our only hope for true knowledge lies in imitation of her. Since her heavenly state cannot be fully known to any on earth, Donne's method of describing it lies mainly in contrasting it with what we do know, and much of the Anniversaries consists of an account of worldly knowledge, examined in detail and found wanting. In Traherne there is no such account. Donne's "meditation of what thou shalt bee" is based fundamentally on knowledge of what we are; Traherne* s is a meditation of what we can be in the present, based on knowledge of what we were. The experience of being born into the world in a state of wholeness and perfection is to Traherne what the experience of mortality and worldly imperfection is to Donne—the basic experience from which all knowledge of Heaven or Eden grows. It matters not so 220 much whether we regard the acquiring of this knowledge as a 'progression1 or a 'regression,' an accumulation or a stripping away. What effect does the knowledge of a lived, experienced perfection, rather than an imagined future perfection, have upon the language and forms the poet uses? I have suggested already the way in which Traherne*s simple syntactic patterns and unspecific and abstract diction replace the complex governing structures of Donne and Herbert, just as the interpenetration and virtual identity of heaven and earth, God and individual soul, replace the complex relationships and fixed hierarchies of the earlier poets. But Traherne*s simple language is more than just an appropriate way of expressing a simple, unified vision. The tenacity with which he upheld his principle of no ornamentation, and the recurrence in his work of the idea of coming into being* suggest that Traherne is aware of language not only as a basic imitative tool, as in Herbert, but also as a basic creative tool, creative of orders both true and false. The transition from perception to verbalized concept seems to have constituted for Traherne a mystery akin to that of the Creation itself, by which order was imposed on chaos. The first poem in the autograph manuscript begins with this mystery—the mystery of the created being and of the Word itself: 221 These little Limmes These Eys and Hands which here I find, These rosie Cheeks wherwith my Life begins, Where have ye been,? Behind What Curtain were ye from me hid so long! Where was? in what Abyss, my Speaking Tongue? ("The Salutation," II.4, 11.1-6) The slow repetition of phrases which do not seem to form into sentences—phrases which are part question, part exclamation— suggests the gradual awakening of a new power of speech after that eternity When silent I, So many thousand thousand yeers Beneath the Dust did in a Chaos lie. (11.7-9) But with the poet's entry into the world as a physical being, delighting in his own hands, eyes and ears, comes the recognition through the senses of his own existence as a unique and separate entity, and thus of his own potential separateness from all that is outside himself, including God. The ability to conceptualize his own existence by means of the "Speaking Tongue" of language and thought is at the same time the ability to construct false orders and false relationships which stand between the Creator and the Created. As he himself is a means by which the end of the Creation is made manifest, so is the gift of language a means by which, through his own creative act, he can himself further realize the Divine plan—or he can lose sight of the Divine plan altogether with the painted and false eloquence that tells 222 "A Tale in tongues that sound like Babel-Hell." Such is this danger that in "Dumnesse" the first word spoken by the child seems to divide and distinguish between things that before speech were wholly and intuitively known: "I then my Bliss did, when my Silence, break." Within the brief period of silence a Pulpit in my Mind, A Temple, and a Teacher I did find, With a large Text to comment on. No Ear, But Eys them selvs were all the Hearers there. And evry Stone, and Evry Star a Tongue, And evry Gale of Wind a Curious Song. • • o • • • « • .e. o o • . • o a o e o All things did com With Voices and Instructions; but when I Had gaind a Tongue, their Power began to die. (11.42, 11.57-62; 44, 11.66-68) The first "Words," however, the "Things which in my Dumnesse did appear," took root, and were not drowned in the noise of Babel: these will whisper if I will but hear, And penetrat the Heart, if not the Ear. (11.44, 11.87-88) It is these original "Voices" and "Instructions" that Traherne's words describe, and their ultimate appeal is not to the senses which delight, quite legitimately, in the differences of things, but to the heart and mind which alone perceive the true unity. It is to this end that the poetic act creates first by taking away, by removing the accretions which language gathers around itself when, bemused by the differences of things, it 223 labels, codifies and defines with structures of its own. The way in which Traherne uses language to celebrate the unity of all things is clearly set out in "The Person:" Mistake me not, I do not mean to bring New Robes, but to Display the Thing: Nor Paint, nor Cloath, nor Crown, nor add a Ray, But Glorify by taking all away. (11.74, 11.13-16) Thus we have a reduction whereby the inner life and the principle of unity are revealed. Traherne, after stating that "Metaphores conceal" (1.25), somewhat inconsistently goes on to use one himself. He speaks of the "Anatomie" which language must perform. Whereas Donne1s anatomy served to reveal the sickness and corruption at the center of all things, Traherne's reveals the life and the spirit: "Survey the Skin, cut up the Flesh, the Veins / Unfold: The Glory there remains" (11.76, 11.29-30). The individual parts reveal their harmony only when no attempt is made to define their individuality, to characterize and distinguish by imposed metaphor and ornament. Thus "My Cheeks, my Lips, my Ears, my Hands, my Feet"—images undistinguished and 'arranged' in only that 'order' which permits the greatest sense of participation and identity between the individual members—together form the human body, and, by Traherne's own analogy, the poem itseIf: And these in all my Ways Shall Themes becom, and Organs of thy Praise. (11.78, 11.63-64) 224 If we understand the kind of participation and identity which Traherne finds in all parts which make up greater wholes— the limbs and organs of the body, the streets of a city, the minerals that make up the earth, the individual men, women and children who make up the race—we can understand the function of the parts which make up the poems, beginning with the words themselves. In order to express the great theme of Felicity, the joy he finds in such richness and harmony, Traherne some- times introduces images from a mythical or allegorical frame- work, only to dismiss them as inadequate. In "Love," for instance, Danae and Ganymede are seen as representing the poet's delight in God1s abundance, but in the end they are "Too Weak and feeble Pictures to Express / The true Mysterious Depths of Blessedness" (11.168, 11.37-38). The more complex the symbol, the less likely that Traherne will find any use for it. Instead he will pare away and reduce till we are left with the bare bone of language, mere abstractions from 'reality.' But as I. A. Richards has pointed out, "An image may lose almost all its sensory nature to the point of becoming scarcely an image at all a mere skeleton, and yet represent a sensation quite as Of) adequately as if it were flaring with hallucinatory vividity." Traherne's bare images do not appeal to the senses, or, to be more exact, to that store of memories of individual sensations 225 and associations which most poets draw their images from, and to which they appeal in the reader. In those cases where the images he uses do have associative and sensuous power, as in the frequent adaptations of the language of the Psalms or the Canticles, Traherne often sets them against a greater and more abstract reality, as in "The Odour:" What's Cinnamon, compar'd to thee? Thy Body is than Cedars better far: Those Fruits and Flowers which in Fields I see, With thine, can not compare. Where ere thou movest, there the Scent I find Of fragrant Myrrh and Aloes left behind,, (11.122, 11.55-60) The * sensation" we are left with, the cumulative effect, is of sense itself suffused with spirit, as the poet himself suggests in an impressionistic passage from "Wonder:" I felt a Vigour in my Sence That was all SPIRIT. I within did flow With. s of Life, like Wine. (II.8, 11.20-22) Traherne1s 'lists' of common objects, feelings and states of mind serve the same purpose: to convey, like the separate dots in a pointillist painting, a total impression of the one "Spirit," which, while not apprehended through logic or reason, nevertheless inhabits the realm of pure "Idea." ' The activity which occurs in this realm is described in "Walking," where "To walk is by a Thought to go? / To mov in Spirit to and fro" (II.135, 11.19-20). To observe pleasurably the things of 226 the world is not to stop at the level of sense, but To fly abroad like activ Bees, Among the Hedges and the Trees, To cull the Dew that lies On evry Blade, From evry Blossom; till we lade Our Minds, as they their Thighs. (11.135-136, 11.31-36) It is in the transition from "Things" to "Thoughts" that Traherne finds true wisdom and felicity. "Thoughts" are the "Ends of Outward Treasure/1 the only way in which we can apprehend God since the senses are finally limited: "The Ey»s confind, the Body's pent / In narrow Room: Lims are of small extent" ("Thoughts I/' II. 170, 11.61-62). The purpose underlying Traherne"s bare images and abstractions seems clear: to use words that convey the general and not the particular truth; words that deliberately avoid 'describing," where describing means differentiating; words which, when run together, convey the essence of unrestricted thought. One critic has found it paradoxical that "it is when he is writing of visions that Traherne is most c o n c r e t e I t is true that in several poems a great number of specific images occur, but the kind of vision such poems contain is often of a desolate nature, as if the detail itself were conspiring to rob the poet of his true felicity. Such a vision is the subject of "Solitude." The poet has left the town, "The Sword of State, 227 the Mayor's Gown, / And all the Neighb'ring Boys," but nature offers no consolation despite, or rather because of, the particularity of her several pleasures—a particularity which the presence of limiting adjectives always suggests in Traherne: The shady Trees, The Ev'ning dark, the humming Bees, The chirping Birds, mute Springs and Fords, conspire, To giv no Answer unto my Desire, (II, 99, 11, 53<™»56) So also in "Poverty," where the cups and dishes and wooden stools, and the painted cloth which wrought "som ancient Story," convey only desolation because,, as the poet goes on to say in his more familiar style, "I neither thought the Sun, / Nor Moon, nor Stars, nor Peeple, mine" (II,102, 11,25-26). When we read in "Dissatisfaction" that, In ev'ry House I sought for Health, Searcht ev'ry Cabinet to spy my Wealth, I knockt at ev1ry Door (11.103, 11,9-11) we are reminded of Vaughan^ whose search through the actual places where Christ lived and died was fruitless. In the New Jerusalem of " Christendom!,'" however, as in Vaughan's Eden of "Ascension-day," the vision is boundless, and immediate detail disappears in the transforming whole: No Markets, Shops or Old Exchange, No Childish Trifles, useless Things; No Wall, nor Bounds That Town surrounds; 228 But as if all its Streets ev'n endless were: Without or Gate or Wall it did appear, (11.108, 11.45-50) Two visions are juxtaposed in "Shadows in the Water," one the actual mirror-image of the other, but the exact detail which is reflected in the water is clearly no key to an understanding of the other world which lies beyond. Though similar in all outward respects, this other world transcends the clear detail which is all the eye of the senses can see: "For other great and glorious Ends, / Inhabit yet my unknown Friends" (11.129, 11.55-56). It is through a simple, repetitive and unspecific diction that Traherne seeks to bring that.other world into the reality of mind and thought,, III Having considered fir st the kind of reduction we find in Traherne, that part of the poetic act which works to "Glorify by taking all away," we are in a better position to assess the 'other side1 of his poetry, its simple profusion and multi- plication of idea and image. At first this profusion seems undisciplined and essentially contrary to the bareness of the poetic means, but it follows inevitably from the removal of all that is particular and the revelation of all that is common. 229 Subtraction and multiplication are processes inextricably linked in Traherne. A correct understanding of God and the universe depends on our correct understanding of the things of the world and even the parts of our own body. Once the "purity' of lips, eyes and ears has been established—their purity, that is, in the realm of thought—then the true harmony of the body can be properly understood. In the same way each individual man relates to all men, all "People," and thus we move ever outwards to establish the true order of God. As the poet makes clear, in "Consummation," this order is no invention of fancy. We may picture whales and dolphins sweeping with their tails the water s of distant seas, but within the true realm of thought such momentarily pleasing pictures disappear: Nor shall we then invent Nor alter Things; but with content All in their places see, As doth the Glorious Deity; Within the Scope of whose Great Mind, We all in their tru Nature find. (11.148, 11.49-54) This order is not so much a traditional Christian or Platonic ascending order, but one which moves outwards in all directions at once, from any given center of consciousness. Thus is each man an Adam, each city a Jerusalem. We can apply a similar principle in our assessment of Traherne3s poetry as a whole. Once the purity of the naked image 230 has been established with its particularity removed, then it can multiply through lines, stanzas and whole poems, until a whole new 'world" is created. Since this poetic order, like the divine order it imitates, is not hierarchical in nature, but tends to move outward from any given point, the complex syntax and the extended symbols and conceits which give density to Donne and Herbert would act as inhibiting factors, and are thus present only to a marginal degree. Traherne*s poetry has not depth, but extension, and its forms accord perfectly with his vision of cosmic order. That Traherne was profoundly concerned with order, yet hardly at all with 'inner structure,' need not appear incon- sistent if we consider that his order is essentially two- dimensional, as opposed to the three-dimensional order of Donne, in whose poetry the .dimension of depth is of major importance. In Donne3s most fully developed visions of cosmic order, those of "Goodfriday, 1613" and the Second Anniversaryff lateral movement in space is always combined with vertical movement. In "Goodfriday, 1613" the "rising" and "setting" of the Christ- sun, and the closely associated image of the Christ-sun controlling the earth's light and darkness along its polar axis, combine with the lateral movement of the planets and of the rider himself to produce a complex three-dimensional structure? 231 similarly, the outward movement of Elizabeth Drury's soul in the Second Anniversary is also an upward movement, thus encom- passing both the limitless extension of space and the fixed 'stages' of the vertical hierarchy.24 But it is difficult to imagine how Traherne's interchangeable and interpenetrating order, with its center in every created thing, could be conceived of in any other than a two-dimensional way. In a poem such as "On Leaping over the Moon" (11.130), where he does attempt to visualize a three-dimensional universe, the result is little more than a self-conscious jeu d'esprit (it is perhaps significant that the poem records not his own imagined experience, but his brother's). Traherne5 s "pictures0 of fields, streets and cities characteristically stretch out in flat, endless vistas; he tells us frequently of the absence of walls, hedges and other barriers to expansion. "Cursd and Devisd Proprieties" fled from sight, And so did Hedges, Ditches, Limits, Bounds, I dreamed not ought of those, But wanderd over all mens Grounds, OK And found Repose. J ("Wonder," 11.10, 11.53-56) If, then, we mean by 'structure' an essentially vertical pattern of fixed relationships, Traherne1s poems have no structure and no fixed order, either within themselves or in relation to each other. But if we conceive of an 'order' which 232 is essentially unstructured, but which has breadth and width and in which parts are interchangeable, then we can understand how the poet can insist on the importance of order, as in "The Vision:" Order the Beauty even of Beauty is, It is the Rule of Bliss, The very Life and Form and Caus of Pleasure; Which if we do not understand, Ten thousand Heaps of vain confused Treasure Will but oppress the Land® (11.26, 11.9-14) Such an order is not static. In "The Improvment" the poet says that there would be no goodness, wisdom or happiness in things, "Did not they all in one fair Order move" (11.32, 1.21). But we will look in vain for the kind of inner movement or develop- ment which in Donne, Herbert and Vaughan is based on the notion of specific direction. Instead, the poems imitate the expansion of the spirit itself as described in "Nature:" It did not move, nor one way go, but stood, And by Dilating of it self, all Good It strove to see, as if twere present there, Even while it present stood conversing here. (11.62, 11.33-36) The movement is that of thought itself, which, free of the restrictions of the senses, and depending in no way on logical argument, "From Nothing to Infinitie it turns, / Even in a Moment" ("Thoughts III," 11.176, 11.37-38). 233 This does not mean that only the Ideal and the Infinite have value: if this were the case, we would find it difficult to explain why Traherne took such care with the actual finite patterns of his verse, and why he did not simply run everything together in an unrestricted outpouring of words. Once again the explanation lies in the nature of God8s own creative Act. Within the world of the Creation God chose to limit things, since infinity cannot 'extend' itself, but can only 'contract1 itself in the finite. Traherne does not avoid the paradox which must ensue; rather, he accepts it and realizes that for the human spirit to be conscious of, and delight in, the infinite freedom of thought, it must also know and understand limitation,, Thus we find in one of the poems from Christian Ethicks: A Sea that's bounded in a finite shore, Is better far because it is no more• Should Waters endlessly exceed the Skies, They'd drown the WorId, and all whate'er we prize. (11.186, 11.13-16) It is the central mystery in Traherne's view of Creation that individual forms and parts, while all one in the realm of thought, should necessarily remain themseIves. Ordinary things are to be seen and understood in themselves, but not for them- selves. The same observation can be made of the individual poems. 234 It is through the senses, the awareness of limbs, eyes and ears, that the infinite is first made known to us? it is likewise through the senses that Traherne3s verse makes its first,, though not its last, appeal. It is significant that, within the wide bounds of a concept of form which almost totally rejected complexity of inner structure and controlling figures, Traherne should have taken such care with his elaborate stanzas, some of the most elaborate the seventeenth century produced, from the point of view of length, rhyme scheme, and number of feet to a line. Miss Wade, while denying any organic relationship between verse pattern and contained theme, observes that "there can be no doubt that Traherne took considerable trouble with the actual design of his writing, that is, the pattern presented to the eye by the 2 arrangement of words and lines." The dangers of mere shapeless effusion are constantly present in a poet like Traherne, but they are met, on the whole, more successfully in the poems than in any other part of his writings, except perhaps certain parts of the Centuries. Traherne9 s poems are, in fact, a distillation of the experiences conveyed in the Centuries. This does not mean that they are more 'concise," or less repetitive, but that much of the directly autobiographical material found in the Centuries is 235 omitted in the poetry, particularly in that selection which the author himself gives us in the autograph manuscript. The poems which are found within the Centuries and Christian Ethicks are likewise distillations in verse of the prose which surrounds them, differing not so much in essential structure as in their general and timeless application of the specific meditations. But the problem of arrangement remains, even when this selective process is taken into account. The principle of multi-centeredness and interpenetration is always of great importance in Traherne*s thought, and in his verse the poet sacrifices none of the repetitions and 'lists' of the prose— he rather extends them and emphasizes them further by the removal of a personal, autobiographical framework. The poems must provide, as it were, their own framework. It is as an attempt to find this framework that we can best account for the curious structure of the half-prose, half-verse Contemplation and Thanksgivings. Here the principle of interchangeability is applied in its most directly visual way, as dependent series of words are bracketed and otherwise arranged in groups and clusters. The following is a small example taken from the 236 Athei sts, Physicians, Divines, Philosophers, All agree and consent to this, That Nature never gave to any thing a power in vain. To what end therefore am I endued with these eternal Powers, {GreatnessY Infinity I in my Soul? Eternity j It is not that I might live, (Wisdom Y Goodness) towards all thy Creatures? Holiness] (11.236, 11.264-276) In these works we see in a kind of chaos all the potential forms the poems might take. Long lines, short lines, italics and capitals, strings of synonyms, instances and examples—the raw material of his poetry waiting for the hand which will give it beautiful shape, but which will in no way restrict or delimit; the poem, like those objects which first attract the infant eye, must attract the reader's eye with its ordered beauty, but its visible shape and its sound to the ear must conduct the reader to the pure realm of thought. At a simple level, Traherne's verse patterns perform a similar function to those of Herbert: to reveal the many ways in which God manifests and extends Himself throughout Creation and in the mind of man. But where Herbert's verse patterns rise inevitably out of the particular situation which is the subject of the poem, Traherne's lack this kind of inevitability, mainly because the poems themselves do not for the most part 237 arise from particular situations, but from a perception of the one truth underlying all situations. I have said before that virtually any poem of Traherne offers direct access to this central truth, and this truth in turn, rather than the particular poem, justifies the verse form. But only certain kinds of verse form are likely to prove amenable to this principle. We would not expect, for instance, to find Traherne writing sonnets or dialogues, or any other form where antithetical elements are present and constitute a logical and progressive order of their own. In that minority of poems composed of unvarying couplets we sense a rigid and superimposed plan at odds with the flexibility and expansion of his characteristic vision. The progressive forward movement of Donne8 s couplets in the Anniversaries is an indication of the successive development of ideas? in Traherne, this kind of development being largely absent, the couplet proves to be an inappropriate and monotonous vehicle. With his use, however, of the kind of counterpoint of rhyme, line length and syntactic unit which Herbert developed, Traherne was able to construct a large number of different stanza forms all of which give a graceful shape to but do not impose on or obscure the all-encompassing vision. The arbitrariness of arrangement evident in the Contemplation and 238 the Thanksgivings is replaced by the symmetry of the lines themselves, while the sense of complete openness and freedom is maintained by the enjambment, the constant controlled overflowing of. one line into the next, Robert Ellrodt provides a valuable summing-up of the function of Traherne1s verse patterns: De leur complication raeme naxt 1'impression de nature1 que donne 1*irregularite quand on ne sent pas de contrainte pour amener la pensee a epouser les contours capricieux de ce cadre. Or, a cet egard, Traherne est servi par la "facilite" meme de son art: comme il nshesite pas a repeter l'idee, a multiplier les enumerations, a prodiguer les synonymes, il n* a point de peine a remplir le cadre tout en laissant a la syntaxe et au 01 rhythme leur fluidite. Finally, then, though we cannot say that a particular verse form or stanza pattern is inevitable for the particular poem in which it occurs, we can say that the pattern of Traherne1s verse as a whole is the inevitable expression of a single vision, of which each part reflects all the others, I have tried to show that our understanding of Traherne's overall poetic form depends upon our first understanding his use of words and images within the sentence. The individual simple words and images which the poet has arrived at "by taking all away" are the foundation from which grows the whole poetic edifice. Between the smallest and the largest unit, however, there is perhaps less difference and less distance than in any 239 other poet of the period* In Traherne poetic means and poetic ends are indeed fused in a way not possible in other poets whose more complex awareness of division and disparity within the self and the world demands more complex organizing structures and more complex development of ideas. But in the identity of poetic means and ends, and in the near-identity of smallest and largest poetic units, Traherne1s poems reflect as clearly as those of any other religious poet an individual experience of God—in this ease a God in whom means and ends, large and small, are meaningless as distinct and separate ideas. By "taking all away" we discover that all are one; by enumerating and multiplying we celebrate that oneness. Finally, then, we must see the poems of Traherne as a single gesture, a single act. Their value as poetry lies ultimately in the value we assign to that act: there is little that is incidental to it, little that can be extracted and admired for its own sake. Single images and phrases taken out of context inevitably appear flat and unpoetic, not so much because of a lack of expressiveness, but because the ideas which they do express live only within a total creative act—an act of love, OQ in the poet as in the God he celebrates. Seen within this larger context, images and phrases reinforce each other and build up a cumulative power through repetition. Yet the final 240 effect is not that of incantation. The variety of stanza forms provides an everchanging setting for familiar words and ideas, a visual equivalent to the numberless orders of things in the world® More important, however, is the way in which a single word or idea may be mentioned only in passing in one poem, as an example perhaps, or as one item in a "list," but may become of central importance in another poem or group of poems. Thus do various 'themes'1 such as Innocence, Eden, Thought, Love and Knowledge appear in turn as important aspects of our total being in God, No one theme stands pre-eminent, and each 29 involves the others,, Traherne's disposition of words, themes and verse forms reinforces his poetry's essential 'structurep' Each poem stands at the center of all the others. Just as every individual soul stands, for Traherne, at the center of the Creation as its inheritor and its summation, so does each poem stand as a separate expression of a general truth, a single poetic act whose nature can be understood only by reference to the total act in which it occurs. The realization of this kind of poetic whole depended upon the evolution or distillation of a simple, basic vocabulary and a mode of expression absolutely clear and unencumbered by complex, particular figures and other structural devices, Vaughan, 241 I think, was clearly moving in this direction, but it was Traherne who followed Herbert's advice most rigorously, and in so doing created his own consistent and appropriate poetic forms. CONCLUSION In terms of the changes in poetic form and spiritual vision which I have attempted to trace, Traherne"s poetry marks in certain respects a terminal point. Donne's and Herbert1s methods of logical development, antithetical argument and complex and ambiguous controlling figures were shared by the secular poets as well, as the example of Jonson demonstrates. From these methods grew, ultimately, the rational and discursive modes of the Restoration and the eighteenth century. But with Traherne the short religious lyric, and the vision which sustained it, virtually came to an end as a major poetic form. The complex stanza pattern, coupled with a plain, repetitive and abstract language, first seen briefly in Herbert and further developed in Vaughan, was carried to its furthest point in Traherne, and could go no further® Nothing more could be added without taking away, just as nothing could be added to Traherne's harmonious vision of man and God without reducing it. Although complex and irregular stanza forms appear in the work of other notable poets such as Cowley, Dryden, and Collins, the inspiration, as with Jonson, is primarily classical and secular® It is not the "easy Stile drawn from a native vein" which Traherne wrote of, and in which he praised God and the Creation with simplicity and fervor• Later figures such as Blake, Shelley and Whitman show in some ways a return to Traherne's vision and poetic methods, but in a context so removed from that of seventeenth-century Christian devotion that meaningful comparison is all but impossible. It is with the other metaphysical poets that he finds his place, and it is from their poetry that his own poetic forms emerge. In describing the formal and structural principles that are to be found embodied in the religious poetry of Donne, Herbert, Vaughan and Traherne, I have tried to find a balance between what is common to the poets and what separates them. What is common is the desire not only to celebrate God, but actively to know Him in a most immediate and personal way; not to define and justify one particular way of knowing Him, according to a predetermined pattern of orthodox observance, but to know Him within the individual soul, to know Him in an intense encounter which transcends,, though it may spring from, formal patterns of Christian worship. There is a large body of religious poetry which is concerned with the celebration of God and with the justification of a particular way of celebrating Him® Such a body of poetry may include everything from simple hymns and devotional exercises to long, discursive poems with a doctrinal or even polemical basis. Though there are orthodox devotional and doctrinal poems in the work of all four poets I have chosen to discuss, I have concentrated on the subjective account each one gives of his own personal search for union with the Divine. Within the 'limits' of this search there is room.for the greatest possible diversity—a diversity immediately apparent in the range of expressive forms we find. My primary concern with the forms these poets use has been dictated by a belief, first, that the relationship between them as religious poets is most clearly to be seen in the nature of their poems as verbal structures, and second, that these verbal structures embody and give the most direct access to their essential religious experience. By examining thern it is possible 245 to find a surprisingly consistent pattern of change which corresponds to a similar change in the relationship between individual soul and God as experienced by each poet. As two convenient terminal points in this study, Donne's Second Anniversary and Traherne1s poems taken as a whole define the nature of a 'progress' which is important not only in an understanding of seventeenth-century religious verse, but also in an understanding of the basic issue faced by all poets who must try to convey in words the ineffable. For if, in Donne's vision, the soul of Elizabeth Drury in its unrestricted flight represents a state of perfect knowledge, perfect unity and final freedom from the limitations of space and time, then the problem of how this state is to be realized within each soul, , and conveyed through the medium of poetry, is central to all four poets. And it is by means of a gradual replacement of complex poetic structures and figures by simple ones, of logical progression and argument by spontaneous and associative expansion, and of the defining particular instance by the suggestive generalization, that Donne's vision of the soul's freedom becomes increasingly central in the work of the later poets, and provides Traherne with the very basis of his poetic forms. With the dismantling of the complex structures of Donne and Herbert, and with the return to smaller poetic units and a simpler, unspecific diction, Vaughan and Traherne move away from concreteness, from what Eliot calls "direct, sensuous apprehension of thought," and towards poetic language and poetic forms which do not define particular individual experiences, but rather suggest a potential, shared experience in which individuality is transformed in the newly discovered light of unity. Finally, in Traherne, the indivisible nature of God, man and Creation, and the assimilation by expansion of the boundaries of time and space, are expressed directly by the poetic form itseIf. Donne recognized that the poetic act was an imitation of the purer, unrestricted act of Elizabeth Drury, and ultimately of the original creative Act of God Himself? the essential meaning of the Anniversaries is found in this analogy. Traherne's poetry is also an imitation. But without the sustaining metaphors and the structured logical development of Donne's imitation, Traherne's proceeds on the principle of the virtual identity of the two creative acts, the same fusion of ends and means in both God's Creation and the poet's. As expressions of religious experience and of mystical insight the poetic methods of Donne and Traherne seem ; to me to 247 be equally valid and equally appropriate. They are not polar opposites, as the presence of both methods in Herbert and Vaughan indicates. Nor, for all the differences in sensibility, are any of these poets in disagreement concerning the dignity of their subject and the dignity of their poetic calling. Considered simply as poets, as "makers' of poems, they may be judged to have reached very different levels of achievement. I hope to have shown that an understanding of the appropriate- ness of their particular poetic means to the end which all shared—the greater knowledge and love of God——is necessary before this judgment can be made. I have said that the widely varying methods of each poet illustrate the complexity of the problem faced by all poets who seek to convey in words God's "deep, but dazling darkness." These same varying methods also raise a critical problem if the wide range of personal religious verse which characterizes the earlier part of the seventeenth century is to be seen whole, and not simply as an extension of the poetic practice of, say, Donne or Herbert. Alternatively, examination of the actual forms of later poets like Vaughan and Traherne may cast a revealing "backward* light on the essential nature of the earlier poetry. In this way it is possible to establish a coherent pattern of change within the one spacious framework—a framework 248 consisting not of a set of rules concerning the essential "poetiquenesse" (to use Donne's word) of certain modes of expression, but of the greater awareness of God which these different modes convey, and which was the one shared aim of all the poets. If we allow certain elements only in the style and techniques of Donne and his 'school' to dominate our response to the other religious poets, we may misunderstand those poets who are spiritually closest to him. Wylie Sypher's comment is relevant here: Coleridge's emphasis upon an imaginative discordia concors, the opposition of impulse within a poem, has stimulated a criticism that is always seeking out or wondering at complexities, ambiguities, tensions, and the shifts in tone associated with irony. If a sense of these is not evoked from the reader, the poem is suspected of approaching the over-simplified, the naive, the sentimental . . . . Such an emphasis can lead not only to a neglect of the essential quality and seriousness of Traherne11 s poetry, and of his position in relation to Donne, but it can also lead to a neglect of the unified, unambiguous vision which informs the Anniver sar ie s them- selves, and which each of the poets I have discussed seeks to convey in his verse. To consider the poems as artifacts, as expressive and beautiful forms, is, I believe, to remove an emphasis on what is ultimately partial and incidental and to concentrate instead on what is enduring—the experience finely 249 shaped, offered not so much to the reader as to God, The care with which each poet made this offering itself constitutes a bond between them; this care is also, in a way not easy to define, a guarantee of the integrity of form, and, in the end, of its essential rightness. 250 FOOTNOTES On the Mystical Poetry of Henry Vaughan. p.xviii. This opinion occurs elsewhere: "Perhaps Traherne's poetry is generally less valued than-his justly esteemed prose in large part because we have not yet clearly understood and fully appreciated the specific form and mode of his poetic expression . . ." (A. L. Clements, "On the Mode and Meaning of Traherne's Mystical Poetry," SP, LXI [1964], 500.) 2 The Metaphysical Poets, p.332. •3 The Paradise Within, p.80. 4 H. I. Bell, ed., Traherne's Poems of Felicity (Oxford 1910), p.xxix. 5 Gladys Wade, Thomas Traherne (Princeton, 1946), p.196. 6 A more useful distinction might be that already made in the poetry of Vaughan— a distinction between the more orthodox pieces written from within a conventional Christian framework, and the less orthodox pieces, among them the poet's most accomplished work, which owe little to any such framework. The distinction is perhaps no more final than that commonly made between prose and verse, but I believe it is the one that should be made if we are to arrive at the 'essence' of these two later poets, neither of whom seems to have been as firmly rooted as Donne and Herbert were in the pattern of orthodox Christian observance. In Traherne's poetry the distinction is particularly important. Allan H. Gilbert has claimed, on evidence drawn from a close comparison of the autograph Dobell MS and the Burney MS in Philip Traherne's hand, that "the selection of poems in the Dobell MS indicates that when his artistic interests were uppermost, the ecclesiastical aspects of religion were little regarded" ("Thomas Traherne as Artist," MLQ, VIII [1947], 326). My own attention will be directed primarily to poems in the Dobell MS, not only because it is an autograph and represents Traherne's own selective principle, but also because of the generally recognized superiority of the poems over those added in the later manuscript, whether subjected to Philip's amendments or not. See also Clements, passim. 251 English Literature in the Earlier Seventeenth Century (Oxford, 1945), p.149. 8 Thomas Traherne: Centuries, Poems and Thanksgivings, ed. H. M. Margoliouth, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1958), 11.54, 11.86-93. All subsequent references are to this edition. Where a poem appears in different versions in the Dobell MS and the Burney MS, the Dobell version will always be-given. 9 See Gilbert, pp.436-4420 It is as important in reading Traherne as in reading Vaughan that we do not confuse character- istic modes of expressing spiritual truth with literal, auto- biographical statement. That Traherne attributes clarity of vision to the state of infancy.does not mean that such vision was enjoyed by Traherne only as a child. "Infancy" and the "Infant Eye" are part of a traditional body of imagery referring to a special closeness to God. This closeness may be lost in time, but, in Traherne, may also be regained in time. Infancy and Eden exist always within the soul, as does primal Innocence. That they can be recovered from error and misunderstanding is the point of much of his poetry and prose (see particularly Centuries III.5). See also Harold G. Ridlon, "The Function of the 1Infant-Ey® in Traherne"s Poetry," SP, IXI (1964) , 627-639 a . See Chapter III, n.21. A similar kind of 'transformation® in the idea of Christ is found by Sypher in the typical "centralized" church of the Italian Renaissance: "In these churches so luminously planned Christ is no longer the suffering medieval man who is crucified but a Pythagorean creative principle, Christ Pantocrator, a Logos-God whose divinity is expressed by symmetries" (Four Stages of Renaissance Style, p.63). Not only in Vaughan and Traherne but also in Milton, Bunyan and the Cambridge Platonists we find Christ the Exemplar stressed rather than Christ the Sufferer. Gilbert points out the "lack of churchly and Trinitarian reference" in the Dobell MS and in the most generally acclaimed parts of the Centuries (p.327). Christ the Savior is mentioned only once in the entire Dobell MS, and in only four linked poems in the Burney MS. At times the poet himself takes on the different aspects of Godhead, as in "Love:" "I am his Image, and his Friend, / His Son, Bride, Glory, Temple, End." For further discussion of Traherne's concepts of original sin-and redemption, see William H. Mar shall, "Thomas Traherne and the Doctrine of Original Sin," MLN, LXXIII (1958), 161-165, and K. W. Salter, Thomas Traherne: Mystic and Poet (London, 1964), Chapter II. 252 Note also, in Traherne8s translation of Pico della Mirandola's De Dignitate Hominis, the description of man as "The Hymenaeus Marrying the Creator and his Creatures together" (Centuries IV.74). 13 Traherne1s strong sense of identification with the Psalmist is made explicit in the Centuries: "You cannot imagine how unspeak- ably I was delighted to see so glorious a person, so great a prince, so divine a sage, that was a man after God's own heart, by the testimony of God Himself, rejoicing in the same things, meditating on the same, and praising God for the same. For by this I perceived we were led by one Spirit" (III.70). Elsewhere, however, Traherne sees the act of poetic creation as similar to God's own Act. See Ronald W. Hepburn, "Thomas Traherne: The Nature and Dignity of Imagination," Cambridge Journal, VI (1953), 725-734. 14 . Such an interrelationship may be seen in Herbert only within an individual poem. The poem closest in theme to Traherne, "Man, " shows the same, kind of formal relationship between its stanzas as that which exists between Traherne's individual poems. Each stanza has its own pattern, yet each reflects the same comprehensive vision. One might note also that this relationship in Traherne's poetry means that we do not find poems acting as 'polar opposites' between which the rest of the poet's work seems to fall. Examples I have already cited are the two Anniver sar ie s of Donne, Herbert's•"The Sacrifice" and "Love III," Vaughan"s "The Search" and "Ascension-day." Such poems also-stand at either end of an evolving time scheme which is not found in Traherne, though some individual poems do contain a simple progression in time from confusion to enlightenment, or from grief to joy. 15 p. 338. 1 6 Problems of Art (New York, 1957), p.95„ 1 7 11.378. 18 Miss Colie points out the sustained apposition of Herbert's "Prayer I," and her reading of that poem suggests its similarity in principle to many of Traherne's poems: "The whole poem is an attempt to bracket, to close in upon the logos without limiting its extent,- to find some words to invoke the words for which no other words will do, the Word that is, in the end, simply "something understood" (Paradoxia Epidemica, po207). 253 19 „ L o w r Y Nelson in Baroque Lyric Poetry (New Haven, 1961) finds The Retreate" an exception to the normal tendency of the period: 'Movement toward the future, either full or incomplete, is perhaps the commonest movement to be found in the Baroque lyric" (p. 36) . 20 . Principles of Literary Criticism (London, 1924), p.120. 21 Traherne1s use of the words "Idea," "Thought" and "Mind" is perhaps best understood by quoting from-Peter Sterry's A Discourse of the Freedom of the Wil1 (London, 1675), p.49. Sterry defines Idea as "the first and distinct Image of each form of things in the Divine Mind . . . Thus in every Idea of each Creature doth this universal Idea dwell at large, and freely shine forth with all its fulnesses and sweetnesses in a distinct form, as it self in another form." This passage is quoted in Carol L. Marks's useful survey, "Thomas Traherne and Cambridge Platonism," PMLA, LXXXI (1966), 521-534. For further discussion of Traherne?s conception of the Infinite and its relation to the world of the finite, see Colie, pp.145-168, and Nicolson, pp.196-203. 22 For a detailed account of the relationship in Traherne between sense impression, idea, and knowledge of God, see Salter, Chapter III. 23 Margaret Bottrall, "Traherne's Praise of the Creation," CritQ, I (1959), 130. 24 . A similar combination occurs in Vaughan's "The Water-fall" and "The World," but the episodic development of most of his poems suggests a moving away from the earlier concept of hierarchy. 25 Miss Colie also notes the absence in Traherne's imagery of circles, spheres and rings (p.167). These traditional symbols of perfection and wholeness, as seen particularly in Donne's Anniversaries and Vaughan's "The World," may have suggested enclosure and restriction to Traherne. 27 11.389. 28 See Salter, Chapter VII. Though regarding the poetry as inferior to the prose, Salter makes clear the appropriateness of Traherne's poetic means in the light of his poetic intentions. The order in which these various "themes8 occur has been discussed at length by John M. Wallace in "Thomas Traherne and the Structure of Meditation/' ELH, XXV (1958), 79-89. Wallace suggests that the thirty-seven poems of the Dobeli MS "constitute a complete five-part meditation which fulfills all the major conditions of a Jesuit exercise" (p.80). While there is no doubt that Traherne arranged the poems with some care, I do not believe that he was concerned with writing a meditative exercise. For the influence of the Augustinian meditation in Traherne, see Martz, The Paradise Within, Chapter II, For further discussion of the order of poems in the Dobell MS, see Denonain, pp.254-267. in "The Metaphysicals and the Baroque," PR, XI (1944), 3. BIBLIOGRAPHY I. Pr imary Sour ces Donne, John. The Anniversaries, ed. 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