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
Language and tone in Affliction I
Emphasis on the material
The diction derives very much from the symbolism of the images. For example, Herbert's service to God is a ‘heart' service, but in fact most of the benefits are described in material terms of pleasure:
- ‘my stock' (l.5)
- ‘benefits' (l.6)
- ‘furniture' (l.7)
- ‘household-stuff' (l.9)
The language of power
The language of service also suggests the language of power:
- ‘thou took'st away' (l.31)
- ‘blown' (l.36)
- ‘before I had the power' (l.42)
- ‘throwest' (l.51)
- ‘thy power cross-bias me (l.53)
which in turn suggests conflict:
‘the siege' (l.43)
But there is also the language of suffering.
- In Affliction I ‘there is also the language of suffering'
- Pick out words and phrases that suggest Herbert's suffering
- Pick out words that suggest what effect this suffering had on him
Use of paradox
Herbert's use of language tends towards paradox: linking two logical opposites together. In fact, much Christian language can be expressed paradoxically.
More on paradox: A conceit consists in linking two unlike ideas together in an image, while a paradox is the linking of two logical opposites together as a statement. Religious language often uses paradox to emphasise its difference from ordinary language, not because it wants to be difficult, but because common-sense reality is often so opposite to religious perception. For example, the Bible talks of losing one's life to save it (Matthew 16:25). Jesus often used paradox to make a point. Matthew 20:16 completes a most paradoxical parable with ‘the last will be first, and the first last'.
The climax of the poem is expressed paradoxically:
It appears to come suddenly out of nowhere, and its resolution is only obvious if we have understood the underlying truth of the poem up to that point.
The tone of the poem is that of the complaint rather than the confessional. There is no great sense of personal humility here. Rather, it is provocative, daring God to defend himself. Only at the very end does his spirit seem willing to submit: ‘I must be meek'. But then he seems to throw that away by declaring, ‘Well, I will change the service'. But this is more the final flaunting of an independence that has long since gone in reality.
- We talk of people having their spirit broken. What sort of ‘broken' language does Herbert use in Affliction I?
- What sort of brokenness is it?
- Look at the ‘i' vowel sounds in the first two stanzas
- What do they suggest?
- Examine the words ‘simpering' and ‘rage'
- What tone of voice do they invite?
- What other words of tones of voice can you find?
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
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