AD's English Literature : Critical Analysis of George Herbert’s Virtue as a Lyrical Poem due to its Music and Melody ; Simplicity of Language, Spontaneity and Intensity Religious Fevour

Critical Analysis of George Herbert’s Virtue as a Lyrical Poem due to its Music and Melody ; Simplicity of Language, Spontaneity and Intensity Religious Fevour

An Analysis on Precision of Language,  Metrical Versatility, and  Ingenious use of Imagery or Conceits 
George Herbert’s Virtue

Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky,
The dew shall weep thy fall tonight;
For thou must die.

Sweet rose, whose hue angry and brave
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,
Thy root is ever in its grave,
And thou must die.

Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie,
My music shows ye have your closes,
And all must die.

Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
Like seasoned timber, never gives;
But though the whole world turn to coal,
Then chiefly lives.
 

Virtue (The Temple: Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations) is a didactic poem. It teaches us that virtue is supreme and super lasting. In this world of impermanence, beautiful thing and beauty itself are subject to decay but a truly virtuous soul remains unchanged through all eternally. Read More about Elizabethan Literature  The poem   is finest specimens of metaphysical that are present in the poem are – a blending of thought and feeling metaphysical concentration, unification of sensibility learnedness. Read More about Poetry  
  In Virtue Herbert speaks of the permanence of a virtuous soul. All the beautiful things of the world including a sweet day a sweet rose and the sweet spring are subject to decay but a virtuous soul remains unchanged. To assert his points Herbert uses three images in this poem. First he speaks of a sweet day which must comes to an end and be swallowed up by dark night. Secondly he refers to a sweet rose which in spite of its sweet color and fragrance is destined to wither. Read More about Poetry   Thirdly he speaks of a spring which, with its music and color is damaged to sink into oblivion.

Herbert visualizes a sweet day which is cool, calm and bright. He fancies that the day represents the wedding of the earth and the skies as if they have worked together in order to bring about the day:
“Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky,”
George Herbert:Image Courtesy
Wikipedia:Portrait by Robert White in 1674

(National Portrait Gallery)
However, a cool, calm and bright day must come to an end with the passing of time and at the fall of night. The dew shall weep because the sweet day will die in night. The evening dew is regarded. Here is the tear of mourning over the death of the sweet day.   Herbert presents a serene yet invigorating day and locates the reader in the celestial and terrestrial realms simultaneously, for the day in its loveliness brings them together.Read More about Elizabethan Literature   Day, however, gives way to night, just as life gives way to death. The narrator asserts, turning a daily natural event, nightfall, into a metaphor. Beyond death, the line also suggests grief at the loss of paradise on Earth, the Fall, which is the original cause of death in the Judeo-Christian story of the Creation. The evening dew, invested with emotion and made to represent grief, is equated with tears, which are shed at nightfall over the Fall, the sin that brought death into the world:
“The dew shall weep thy fall tonight;
For thou must die.”

Next, the poet speaks of a lovely delightful rose. The sweet rose has a bright red color which indicates its angry mood add splendid look. Read More about Poetry   Accordingly to the poet, the rose seems to be asking he onlooker to wipe the tears from its eyes as it knows that it must fade away and die.The color dazzles the eyes of the onlooker:
“Sweet rose, whose hue angry and brave
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,
Thy root is ever in its grave,
And thou must die.”
The spring is pictured here being full of ‘sweet’ days and colorful and fragrant flowers and is compared to a box full of sweets to denote the sweetness and beauty of the reason. the delights presented in the first two quatrains are also contained in the third, and the narrator solidifies his suggestion of the earth's rich bounty. But the poet asserts that spring, with its music color and fragrance is destined to sink into oblivion. Read More about Elizabethan Literature   Only by the very verse of the poet being read reserves its glory. Read More about Poetry   But it has its "Close" is a technical term in music indicating the resolution of a musical phrase. Thus, the poetic verse, like everything else the narrator has so far depicted, must come to an end, as it temporarily does with the four stressed and conclusive beats of the twelfth line:
“Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie,
My music shows ye have your closes,
And all must die.”

However, the last quatrain presents images of an eternal soul. Through a metaphoric explanation the poet says that A seasoned timber cannot be burnt and changed into coal and therefore it never surrender to corrosion. Similarly the virtuous soul remains unchanged in spite of the passing of time. Read More about Poetry  The phrase ‘turn to coal’ means totally destroyed. It implies that the whole World will be destructed with the passing of time. By ‘chiefly lives’ the poet means that the soul will remain alive when the world will remain no more. As such, the entire poem, which all along warned of death, shows the way in which Herbert believes that he and his readers may achieve eternal life:
“Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
Like seasoned timber, never gives;
But though the whole world turn to coal,
Then chiefly lives.”

Ref: 1. History of English Literature- Albert     
        2. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature
        3. UGC NET OLD QUESTION PAPERS
- See more at: http://ardhendude.blogspot.in/#sthash.EtChjTV0.dpuf

1 comment:

  1. sir, whether we can use theism, pantheism to metaphysical poems.?

    ReplyDelete

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