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George Herbert

George Herbert was born on April 3, 1593, the fifth son of an eminent Welsh family. His mother, Magdalen Newport, held great patronage to distinguished literary figures such as John Donne, who dedicated his Holy Sonnets to her. Herbert’s father died when he was three, leaving his mother with ten children, all of whom she was determined to educate and raise as loyal Anglicans. Herbert left for Westminster School at age ten.

Background

  • Herbert’s practical manual to country parsons, A Priest to the Temple (1652), exhibits the intelligent devotion he showed to his parishoners. On his deathbed, he sent the manuscript of The Temple to his close friend, Nicholas Ferrar, asking him to publish the poems only if he thought they might do good to “any dejected poor soul.” He died of consumption in 1633 at the age of forty and the book was published in the same year. The Temple met with enormous popular acclaim—it had been reprinted twenty times by 1680.

  • Education

    • Herbert left for Westminster School at age ten, and went on to become one of three to win scholarships to Trinity College, Cambridge.Herbert received two degrees (a B.A. in 1613 and an M.A. in 1616) and was elected a major fellow of Trinity.

      Two years after his college graduation, he was appointed reader in Rhetoric at Cambridge, and in 1620 he was elected public orator—a post wherein Herbert was called upon to represent Cambridge at public occasions and that he described as “the finest place in the university.” In 1624 and 1625 Herbert was elected as a representative to Parliament.

    Career

    • Herbert is also important, especially in the seventeenth century, not only as a poet but as a cultural icon, an image of religious and political stability held up for emulation during tumultuous times. Much of his early popularity—there were at least eleven editions of The Temple in the seventeenth century—no doubt owes something to the carefully crafted persona of "holy Mr. Herbert" put forth by the custodians of his literary works and reputation. In the preface to the first edition of The Temple, published in 1633,

    Major achievements

    • Herbert was elected a major fellow of his college. In 1618 he was appointed Reader in Rhetoric at Cambridge and in 1620 he was elected to the post of Cambridge University orator, whose duties would be served by poetic skill. He held this position until 1628.

    Works

    • George Herbert

    Politics

    George Herbert (23 January 1892 – 16 June 1982) was a British Conservative Party politician. He was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Rotherham at the 1931 general election, and resigned on 6 February 1933 by appointment as Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds

    Religion

    All of Herbert's English surviving poems are religious, and some have been used as hymns, William Cowper said of them I found in them a strain of piety which I could not but admire. They are characterised by directness of expression and some conceits which can appear quaint. Many of the poems have intricate rhyme schemes, and variations of lines within stanzas described as 'a cascade of form floats through the temple'.

    Views

    Suffering from poor health, Herbert died of tuberculosis only three years after taking holy orders. On his deathbed, he reportedly gave the manuscript of The Temple to Nicholas Ferrar, the founder of a semi-monastic Anglican religious community at Little Gidding (a name best known today through the poem Little Gidding by T.S. Eliot), telling him to publish the poems if he thought they might "turn to the advantage of any dejected poor soul", and otherwise, to burn them.

    Quotations: Every mile is two in winter.

    Go not for every grief to the physician, nor for every quarrel to the lawyer, nor for every thirst to the pot.

    Hope is the poor man's bread.

    Living well is the best revenge.

    Storms make oaks take deeper root.

    There would be no great men if there were no little ones.

    Woe be to him that reads but one book.

    Membership

    • Evangelical Lutheran Church , America

    Personality

    Herbert was born in Montgomery in Wales. His family was wealthy, eminent, intellectual and fond of the arts. His mother Magdalen was a patron and friend of John Donne and other poets; his older brother Edward, later Lord Herbert of Cherbury, was an important poet and philosopher, often referred to as "the father of English deism". Herbert's father Richard Herbert, Lord of Cherbury died when George was three, leaving a widow and ten children.

    Quotes from others about the person

    By 1652, the time of the next major biographical statement about Herbert, the tensions of the 1630s had erupted into a devastating civil war: the army of King Charles I had been decisively defeated, and the king himself executed; the bishops had been disenfranchised from their high place in both church and state government; and the maintenance of peace depended on a coalition of parties —old and new landowners, merchants, religious enthusiasts, army commanders, and soldiers—with conflicting interests. Little wonder, then, that Barnabas Oley, a Royalist divine, envisioned Herbert as a "primitive ... holy and heavenly soul" who could instruct a later generation living in much-deserved chastisement and exile. Herbert seemed to be a fit subject for nostalgia, one who lived and died in peace.

    Interests

    Artists: Ralph Vaughan Williams, Lennox Berkeley

    poet

    Connections

    • Herbert's devotional poems combine a homely familiarity with religious experience and a reverent sense of its magnificence. His verse is marked by quietness of tone, precision of language, metrical versatility, and the use of conceits.
    • friend: Nicholas Ferrar - British
      All unpublished at his death, the poems were left by Herbert to his friend Nicholas Ferrar, who had them published as The Temple (1633). Herbert also wrote Latin poems and a prose manual of clerical life, A Priest of the Temple (first printed in Herbert's Remains, 1652). The 20th-century revival of interest in the metaphysical poets has stressed Herbert.
    George Herbert
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    Born March 3, 1593
    Nationality
    Ethnicity:
    • April 3, 1593 - March 1, 1633
      Metaphysical poet, Jacula Prudentum
      Wiltshire, England
    • September 15, 1613 - June 15, 1616
      Rhetoric at Cambridge
    • September 15, 1620 - July 15, 1624
      Cambridge (England)

    Official Titles