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The Complete English Poems

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,175 ratings  ·  50 reviews
George Herbert combined the intellectual and the spiritual, the humble and the divine, to create some of the most moving devotional poetry in the English language. His deceptively simple verse uses the ingenious arguments typical of seventeenth-century 'metaphysical' poets, and unusual imagery drawn from musical structures, the natural world and domestic activity to explor ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published June 28th 2005 by Penguin Classics (first published 1671)
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Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Booklady
Recommended to Caterina by: Dr. Albert Labriola
"Renaissance Literature and the Arts," where I encountered this poet, was one of my favorite and most memorable college courses. George Herbert (1593-1633) wrote unique poetry, often short and seemingly simple but hiding layers of complexity and symbolism. Formally, Herbert was very creative inventing not only new forms and rhyme schemes but sometimes "shaped poems" such as "Easter Wings," in which the text is printed vertically rather than left-to-right and forms the shape of a butterfly. His l ...more
Oct 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
WHO will give me tears ? Come, all ye springs,
Dwell in my head and eyes ; come, clouds
and rain ;
My grief hath need of all the watery things
That nature hath produced : let every vein
Suck up a river to supply mine eyes,
My weary weeping eyes, too dry for me,
Unless they get new conduits, new supplies,
To bear them out, and with my state agree.
What are two shallow fords, two little spouts
Of a less world ? the greater is but small,
A narrow cupboard for my griefs and doubts,
Which want provision in the
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Half a century later I recall the deceptively simple, spondaic
1st line, & perhaps the best tail rhyme in English:

Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright
The bridal of the Earth and Sky,
The Dew will weep thy Fall tonight
For Thou must die.

Sweet Rose, whose view lofty and brave
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,
Thy root is ever in its grave,
And Thou must die.

Sweet Spring, full of sweet Days and Roses,
A box wherein sweets compacted lie
My Music shows Ye have your Closes,
And all must die.

Only a sweet a
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, for-school
Is George Herbert the most major of minor English poets? Or is he—to borrow a phrase from editor John Tobin—the most "modestly exquisite" of major ones? Often lumped in with the Metaphysical Poets, Herbert certainly rivals the best writers of his age for wit and eruditeness. What he lacks, however, is the pathos that makes a figure like Donne so engaging. For unlike Donne, Herbert didn't write as a spiritual palliative. Rather, his poetry was meant to guide others as they made their way through ...more
Aaron Ventura
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent. Herbert switches up his flow in like every poem. Flames.
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I can’t believe I forgot to track this book— I’m very good at my life.

Anyways, I read this a few weeks ago for Omnibus. The poems were well-written, and they were also good examples of the relationship between the believer and God.
Emily Zell
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. The gospel and the Christian life written of so honestly and eloquently. I loved it.
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Eh, not my kind of thing. Very interesting, though. I would have to say that I like the way he discusses his strong devotion to God because he questioningly does so. I'm a big fan of people that do not blindly follow something without ever second guessing it. ...more
I have always loved the poetry of George Herbert since I was introduced to it in my English lit class in high school. I have always been fascinated with his poems that visibly "look like" the title of the poem. "EasterWings", for instance, looks like wings! See for an example of how the poem is supposed to be positioned on the page. See also "The Altar" at . I love this visual poetry!

George Herbert was godly Anglic
J. Alfred
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Herbert's collection of poems, The Temple, is probably the coolest organic collection of lyric poems in existance. The poems are all based on the spiritual life, and together are supposed to build up a spiritual Temple in the reader's heart, so they use different physical objects in a church to represent different bits of spiritual experience. They are aesthetically quaint, you might say, but metrically skillful, psychologically profound, and spiritually revelatory. Very much hard to beat.
This v
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Apr-May 2019. Reading for joy and to teach. Skipping the essay by Ernest Rhys, the prose selection from "A Priest to the Temple," and the "Jacula Prudentum" material. ...more
John Majors
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These poems are so layered and nuanced, many flew past me upon first reading. These are best nibbled on daily while consulting the notes. There's no doubt the author had a first rate mind and a deep passion for Christ. One that I keep coming back to is "The Storm," particularly these lines: "A throbbing conscious spurred by remorse Hath a strange force:
It quits the earth, and mounting more and more,
dares to assault thee, and besiege thy door."
Aug 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a hard time rating collections of poetry I kind of like it all as long it has a unique voice or perspective. Herbert's voice comes through clearly, which is something particularly nice about poetry collections by a single author. I also like devotional poetry, which this is, and I enjoyed reading it. And it was very interesting to get a peek into 17th century religious life via Herbert's poetry. ...more
James Violand
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Herbert was a talented poet who happened to put God before all else. Some of his poems are lyrics to recognizable choir hymns. His brilliant vision is marred only by the archaic spelling. Note: the last 70 pages are in Latin. Unfortunately, I did not keep up with Latin once I left high school in 1971.
Sam Knecht
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
George Herbert writes love letters to the Lord, then poignantly applies biblical language of idolatry to himself. Delving into this 17th-century small town pastor’s soul can be helpful and enjoyable for modern Christians. I’ll be returning to these poems much like I’ll be returning to Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.
Chels S
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
That species of "man" who writes the introductions to books of Poetry, is to be depised. He ranks even lower than the "Admin" and the "Politician", and puts together such nonsense as: "Herbert was a humble man, devoid of humilty.".........the actual poetry in this book is great though. ...more
S McDonald
Jul 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021
Off the charts for Herbert's poetry itself. 4 /5 for this beloved Patrides edition (the first I ever bought of Herbert), which is still beautifully done, and intentionally sparely annotated, because I'm reserving 5 starts for the magnificently detailed scholarly edition from Helen Wilcox :) ...more
Joshua Nuckols
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Come away,
Make no delay,
Summon all the dust to rise,
Till it stir, and rub the eyes;
While this member jogs the other
Each one whispring, Live you brother?
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Would love to buy this poetry book!
Kris Lundgaard
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Without peer
Gavin Brand
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 stars only because the book includes a short biography of Herbert that is not written by him. While good, the biography is not the same as the poetry.
Jill Stirling
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful. Wisdom of the ages.
Jonathan Penn
I have no idea what I read. Poetry is lost on me.
Allen Tsai
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, christian
Didn't read Walton's bio on Herbert, but I loved the collection of poems. Herbert has a way of making you think and feel things in a new way. My favorites were the Elixir and Prayer (I).

Prayer the church's banquet, angel's age,
God's breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav'n and earth
Engine against th' Almighty, sinner's tow'r,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-days world transposing in an hour,
A k
Coram Deo Church
George Herbert's poetry is freely available on multiple poetry sites, such as:

The Seattle Public Library also has several collections, accessible here:

Free audio selections of his poetry are available from Librivox and can be accessed here:
Jul 24, 2013 rated it liked it
I certainly did Herbert no justice by reading his poetry directly after Donne's. Where Donne is fecund, youthful and vital, Herbert is (while well-endowed with skill) a penitent spirit with a penchant for discomfort. I only hope that he had the experiences of the youthful Donne before he wrote this more sober/death-bed verse.

While Donne explores the affect of love in our experience of it, Herbert explores the affect of worship - it's neither as convincing nor inspiring.
Maggie W
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
George Herbert is truly a master of poetry. The first enjoyment of one of his poems is taken just from the beauty of the words read out loud, and the next from the meaning of the words. His work is not just amazing in a stylistic sense, but also in a spiritual and theological sense. He writes about a Christian's relationship with God in both the good and bad times and about sin. Truly a collection of masterpieces. ...more
May 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most consistently and biblically Christian poet I've ever read. Herbert is my all-time favourite poet. His poetry is very deep at times, and often takes some meditating and re-reading to draw out all the meaning (but doesn't most good poetry?); it is definitely worth it - a gold mine of spiritual insight.

I cannot recommend him highly enough!
Holly Lindquist
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This lovely little hardcover by Everyman's Library showcases the poetry of 16th century Anglican priest, George Herbert. I liked the rich language and inventive forms of the poems, but the religious themes just didn't speak to me. Poetry's like music, very subjective. This was like a pleasant bit of verbal chamber music, but not anything I'd imagine myself returning to. ...more
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding poetry with deep spiritual insight!

'Thou, Whose glorious yet contracted light,
Wrapt in Night's mantle, stole into a manger,
Since my dark soul and brutish, is Thy right,
To man, of all beasts, be not Thou a stranger :
Furnish and deck my soul, that Thou mayst have
A better lodging than a rack or grave.'
-from "Christmas."
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George Herbert was a Welsh-born English poet and orator. Herbert's poetry is associated with the writings of the metaphysical poets, and he is recognized as "a pivotal figure: enormously popular, deeply and broadly influential, and arguably the most skillful and important British devotional lyricist."

Born into an artistic and wealthy family, Herbert received a good education that led to his admiss

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“That flesh is but the glass, which holds the dust
That measures all our time; which also shall
Be crumbled into dust.”
“Holiness on the head, Light and perfections on the breast, Harmonious bells below, raising the dead To lead them unto life and rest. 5 Thus are true Aarons dressed. Profaneness in my head, Defects and darkness in my breast, A noise of passions ringing me for dead Unto a place where is no rest. 10 Poor priest thus am I dressed. Only another head I have, another heart and breast, Another music, making live not dead, Without whom I could have no rest: 15 In him I am well dressed. Christ is my only head, My alone only heart and breast, My only music, striking me ev’n dead; That to the old man I may rest, 20 And be in him new dressed. So holy in my head, Perfect and light in my dear breast, My doctrine tuned by Christ (who is not dead, But lives in me while I do rest), 25 Come people; Aaron’s dressed.” 1 likes
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