UBC Theses and Dissertations
Expecting a ring and finding a round : sequence and order in George Herbert's The Temple Warner, Matthew Gordineer
This thesis is concerned with the sequential nature of George Herbert’s The Temple. By engaging with this volume of poetry as a cohesive unit with structures that extend beyond any one poem, it is shown that that although Herbert’s poetry is richly productive, it is also limited and self-undermining, expressing the ultimately contingent nature of human art. The structures examined are of two kinds, dealt with in turn: first, those that are typographical and emerge from the physical presentation of Herbert’s poems on the pages of the first edition of 1633, and second, formal structures modelled by particular poems in the collection, which provide insight and reflection into the functioning of the whole. In the first category are poems that share common titles (“Love” (I), “Love” (II), “Love” (III), for example) as well as the particular arrangements of poems such as “Hope” and “Sinnes Round” on the page, which suggest connections and relationships between these poems that are not apparent when viewed individually or in the abstract. The second kind of feature examined is found in a wide variety of Herbert’s poems, and is the tendency of these poems to model particular kinds of reading practice that are applicable to the reading of The Temple itself. Poems such as “Prayer” (I) and “The Sacrifice” exhibit modes of accumulation and revision that suggest how multiple poems may be combined to produce larger structures of meaning, while poems such as “The Flower” and “The Pulley” demonstrate how such structures are necessarily incomplete and flawed. Finally, a turn to the poems “Vertue” and “Love” (III) explores how Herbert’s poetry engages with questions of finitude and conclusion.
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