Metaphysical poets, selected poems Contents
- Donne, John
- John Donne's early life
- John Donne - from Catholic to Protestant
- John Donne's marriage and its aftermath
- John Donne - The Reverend Dean
- Herbert, George
- Crashaw, Richard
- Vaughan, Henry
- Marvell, Andrew
- King, Henry
- Lovelace, Richard
- Cowley, Abraham
- Philips, Katherine
- Cleveland, John
- Social / political context
- Religious / philosophical context
- Literary context: ideas and innovations
- Aire and Angels
- A Hymn to God the Father
- A Hymn to God, my God, in my Sicknesse
- A Nocturnall upon St. Lucies day
- At the Round Earth's Imagin'd Corners
- A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
- Synopsis of Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
- Commentary on Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
- Language and tone in Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
- Structure and versification in Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
- Imagery and symbolism in Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
- Themes in Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
- A Valediction: of Weeping
- Batter my heart
- Death be not Proud
- Elegie XIX: Going to Bed
- Elegie XVI: On his Mistris
- Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward
- Lovers' Infiniteness
- Oh my blacke Soule!
- Satyre III: 'On Religion'
- Show me Deare Christ
- Since She Whom I Lov'd
- Song: Goe, and catche a falling starre
- The Anniversarie
- The Dreame
- The Extasie
- The Flea
- The Good-morrow
- The Sunne Rising
- This is my playes last scene
- Twicknam Garden
- What if this present
- Affliction I
- Easter Wings
- Jordan I
- Jordan II
- Love II
- Prayer I
- The Church-floore
- The Collar
- Hymn in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
- Hymn to St Teresa
- St Mary Magdalene, or the Weeper
- To the Countesse of Denbigh
- Ascension - Hymn
- The Night
- The Retreate
- The Water-fall
- A Dialogue between Soul and Body
- On a Drop of Dew
- The Coronet
- The Definition of Love
- The Garden
- The Mower Against Gardens
- The Mower to the Glo-Worms
- The Mower's Song
- The Nymph Complaining for the Death of her Faun
- The Picture of Little T.C. in a Prospect of Flowers
- To his Coy Mistress
- Upon Appleton House, to my Lord Fairfax
Commentary on The Collar
The Collar opens with dramatic suddenness, rather poems by John Donne. As in Affliction I, the I-voice is re-enforced by the long i-vowels of ‘sigh', 'pine', 'Lines', 'life': the poet is full of himself and his frustration. ‘The board' just means a table, or any flat surface, even a desktop. The frustration is centred on two things: loss of freedom; and lack of any ‘harvest' or outcome, in spite of all his efforts.
There was plenty in the poet's life before his ‘sighs' and ‘tears' spoiled it. Whether this refers to suffering through illness, or through tears of repentance, of a moral turning away from his previous lifestyle, is not clear. ‘Thy cold dispute/Of what is fit, and not' does suggest the latter, unlike Affliction I, where it is more his poor physical health that held him back.
Whatever the cause, he feels it is not irremediable. He can surely
On double pleasures
He does not need ‘thy death's-head'. People actually did have skulls in their studies in the seventeenth century to remind them of the imminence of death, and to take life seriously. His ‘need' now is to serve his own wishes.
Then comes the reversal: as he gets more and more frustrated, it seems as if he hears a voice ‘calling, Child'. The term ‘child' is one Herbert uses elsewhere for an immature person of whatever age, but suggestingendearment rather than anger. It is God's loving voice and it immediately melts his anger. He turns at once to acknowledge ‘My Lord', a term which must mean God in the Christian context of Herbert's poetry. Suddenly, there is a new perspective on everything.
- Does the ending of The Collar seem weak or strong?
- Would you have preferred to have heard Herbert argue it out with God?
- Have you felt similar frustration at what seemed to be unfair constraints put on you?
- How was the situation resolved?
- What to you seems to be the cause of Herbert's frustration?
- Pick out words and phrases that illustrate his feelings.
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