George Herbert

by Colin Shortess

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  • Came from a wealthy family
  • His father died when George was 3, so he was left under the care of his mother
  • Attended Westminster School at age 12
  • Admitted on scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge and graduated with a master's degree at 23
  • Became a member in Parliament, following in his father's footsteps
  • Left Parliament for the priesthood
  • Appointed rector of the small rural parish of Fugglestone St. Peter
  • Wrote poetry while he was a priest
  • Married and adopted his 3 orphaned nieces
  • Died 3 years into being a priest, and his friend Nicholas Ferrar published his poetry after Herbert's death

"The Pulley" by George Herbert

When God at first made man,

Having a glass of blessings standing by,

“Let us,” said he, “pour on him all we can.

Let the world’s riches, which dispersèd lie,

Contract into a span.”

So strength first made a way;

Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure.

When almost all was out, God made a stay,

Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure,

Rest in the bottom lay.

“For if I should,” said he,

“Bestow this jewel also on my creature,

He would adore my gifts instead of me,

And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature;

So both should losers be.

“Yet let him keep the rest,

But keep them with repining restlessness;

Let him be rich and weary, that at least,

If goodness lead him not, yet weariness

May toss him to my breast.”

Literary Analysis of "The Pulley"

There is a biblical allusion to the story of creation in the first line of the poem.

There is an image of God pouring all the gifts onto mankind, which also points to the story of Pandora's Box.

Rest is a common theme in many great works of literature, including Shakespeare's "Macbeth."

Rest is contradictory to the poem's main image.

The image of a pulley assists us in heavy tasks to gain an advantage.

There is both religious and scientific images, which is quite common for 17th century poets in "The Pulley."

George Herbert and his poetry
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Tim McGraw - Humble And Kind (Official Video)

Works Cited

Allen, Austin. "The Pulley." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2016.

"George Herbert and His Poetry." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.

"George Herbert." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2016.

"Tim McGraw - Humble And Kind (Official Video)." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

"Virtue." Poetry for Students. Ed. Ira Mark Milne. Vol. 25. Detroit: Gale, 2007. 261-283. Gale

Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.

"Wadia. Brief Analysis of Herbert's Conceit of The Pulley." Wadia. Brief Analysis of Herbert's Conceit of The Pulley. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.