Structure and versification in Affliction I

The stanza structure is quite elaborate. The six line stanzas rhyme ababcc, giving the possibility of a final iambic pentameter couplet. In 9 of the 11 stanzas, this is what happens. The first four lines are a complete sense unit, leaving the last two lines to make some clinching statement. The first four lines alternate pentameters with trimeters; the latter making sure the verse does not get too static. Herbert refuses to let his versification get too heavy, especially as the subject-matter could easily get stuck in a morass of gloomy self-pity.

Investigating Affliction I
  • Re-read Herbert's Affliction I
    • What comes over to you about Herbert's honesty?
    • In this I-thou dialogue, does Herbert give God a chance to reply?
      • Or is he all too aware of what God is doing anyway?
  • What would you want to question about Herbert's account of his life so far?
  • As readers, we have an idea of the next chapter in Herbert's life
    • Does this create for you any dramatic ironies?
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