George Herbert_wl (1)

Nestled somewhere within the Age of Shakespeare and the Age of Milton is George Herbert. There is no Age of Herbert: he did not consciously fashion an expansive literary career for himself, and his characteristic gestures, insofar as these can be gleaned from his poems and other writings, tend to be careful self-scrutiny rather than rhetorical pronouncement; local involvement rather than broad social engagement; and complex, ever-qualified lyric contemplation rather than epic or dramatic myth-making. This is the stuff of humility and integrity, not celebrity. But even if Herbert does not appear to be one of the larger-than-life cultural monuments of seventeenth-century England—a position that virtually requires the qualities of irrepressible ambition and boldness, if not self-regarding arrogance, that he attempted to flee—he is in some ways a pivotal figure: enormously popular, deeply and broadly influential, and arguably the most skillful and important British devotional lyricist of this or any other time.


  

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