‘The Collar’ from The Temple (1633) – by George Herbert

''The Collar'' from the 1633 Edition

                              ‘The Collar’ from The Temple (1633) – by George Herbert:

I struck the board, and cried, “No more;
                         I will abroad!
What? shall I ever sigh and pine?
My lines and life are free, free as the road,
Loose as the wind, as large as store.
          Shall I be still in suit?
Have I no harvest but a thorn
To let me blood, and not restore
What I have lost with cordial fruit?
          Sure there was wine
Before my sighs did dry it; there was corn
    Before my tears did drown it.
      Is the year only lost to me?
          Have I no bays to crown it,
No flowers, no garlands gay? All blasted?
                  All wasted?
Not so, my heart; but there is fruit,
            And thou hast hands.
Recover all thy sigh-blown age
On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute
Of what is fit and not. Forsake thy cage,
             Thy rope of sands,
Which petty thoughts have made, and made to thee
Good cable, to enforce and draw,
          And be thy law,
While thou didst wink and wouldst not see.
          Away! take heed;
          I will abroad.
Call in thy death’s-head there; tie up thy fears;
          He that forbears
         To suit and serve his need
          Deserves his load.”
But as I raved and grew more fierce and wild
          At every word,
Methought I heard one calling, Child!
          And I replied My Lord.
  1.  The title may be a pun on “choler.”

    “To think of Herbert as the poet of a placid and comfortable easy piety is to misunderstand utterly the man and his poems.”

  2. T. S. Eliot, “George Herbert.” And from Outlandish Proverbs, 536. The cholerick man never wants woe.
  3. George Herbert uses more variety of stanza-rhyme structure than Keats, Shelley or any of the Romantics. [See Albert McHarg Hayes, “Counterpoint in Herbert.” Also see list of poems with stanza meter and rhyme scheme.]
  4. One of the proverbs that Herbert collected was printed in Jacula Prudentum, 1651, as #1120. “The horse that drawes after him his halter, is not altogether escaped.”]

Explication/Interpretation/Criticism:

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