George Herbert, George Herbert poetry, Christian, Christian poetry, Protestant poetry,  poetry,  poetry George Herbert
Wales (1593 - 1633) Timeline
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Poems by George Herbert
Books - Links

George Herbert is probably the most influential religious/spiritual poet of the British Metaphysical Poets. He was born in Wales to a wealthy family. He had six brothers and three sisters. Their father died when George was only three years old.

His mother was a supporter of the arts and was particularly known for her patronage of the hugely influential poet John Donne.

George Herbert studied at Trinity College, Cambridge. It was during this time that Herbert wrote his first known poems. In them, he declared that love of God was a more worthy subject for poetry than love of women -- a decided shift from the often erotic focus of the earlier works of John Donne and other early Metaphysical poets.

After Herbert's graduation from Trinity, he gained notoriety as a university orator. Around this time, he also had some connection with Sir Francis Bacon (who has sometimes been linked with secret spiritual societies). A year before his death in 1626, Bacon dedicated a translation of the psalms to Herbert.

Instead of using his connections and rising position to attain high political office, he did an about face and took holy orders within the Church of England and became a country parson. He served the local community as a rector outside of Salisbury for the rest of his relatively short life. The care he showed his parishoners was so sincere that he was referred to as "Holy Mr. Herbert."

It wasn't until he was on his deathbed that he sent his unpublished poems to a friend, telling him to publish them only if he thought they might help "any dejected poor soul."

The manuscript was published as The Temple the same year as Herbert's death. It was immediately influential in British poetry and spirituality, inspiring other spiritual poets, like Henry Vaughan and Richard Crashaw.

Poems by George Herbert

Recommended Books: George Herbert

The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse George Herbert: The Country Parson and the Temple Metaphysical Poetry: (Penguin Classics) George Herbert: The Complete English Poems
The Temple: The Poetry of George Herbert George Herbert: A Literary Life The Essential George Herbert Metaphysical Poetry: An Anthology (Dover Thrift Edition) The English Poems of George Herbert

Related Links

George Herbert

An excellent site with a biography, timeline, all of the poems from The Temple, links to essays about Herbert. Worth a visit.

George Herbert

A biographical sketch, and several helpful links.

George Herbert & The Temple

Lots of links related to George Herbert's collection of poetry The Temple and its influence on Anglican liturgy.

The Academy of American Poets - George Herbert

A brief biography, along with a small selection of poems and links to other Metaphysical poets.

George Herbert Journal

A print publication of essays related to George Herbert. You can access a free sample issue online.

The Life of Mr. George Herbert

An in-depth biography of George Herbert written in the 1600s.

George Herbert and Bemerton

An very good website on George Herbert and his work, with biographical details, resources for teachers, etc.
George Herbert