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The Temple as Conceptual Metaphor by John Bienz The design of The Temple has long been debated but without considering certain essential but very ordinary conceptual structures that were common mental property at the time of its publication in 1633. My thesis is that The Temple is organized by a conceptual metaphor that is grounded both historically and genetically* This metaphor is based on shared image-schematic structure: the target of the metaphor, a common reader's script, and the source, a churchgoing script tailored to biases prominent in the 1620s and 1630s, are organized by a temporal pathway. Parallel use of a pathway schema permits one script to be mapped with the other, and because the temporal pathway schema is genetically grounded, it enables late twentieth-century readers to recognize the form of The Temple even though explaining that structure has been notoriously difficult for literary critics.1 Appropriately, twentieth-century editions of Herbert's poetry embed it in scholarly apparatus. While we may benefit in many ways from the introductions, notes, supplemental texts, etc. that these editions provide, they do not give us a very accurate idea of what the original bodily experience of Herbert's book would have been.2 In the 1630s, a potential reader coming to a copy of The Temple with modest book-reading experience would have had at least two immediately obvious cues to orient his or her choices. First, The Temple was published as a duodecimo book. The copy of the 1633 edition in the Lilly Library at Indiana University is in seventeenth-century binding and measures 9 cm. by 14.3 cm. Books in that intimate format were typically intended for private devotional use: they were vademécums that readers could carry easily, open inconspicuously, and use * "Conceptual metaphor" was introduced as a tool for the critical analysis of poetry by George Lakoff and Mark Turner in More than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1989). For clarification of how my use of the term differs from Lakoff and Turner, see "A Note on Conceptual Metaphor" at the end of this article. For readers unfamiliar with cognitive criticism, this note also serves as a brief introduction to the technical terms used here and may be read before continuing with my argument. 2 John Bienz whenever and wherever they had a little time out from the business of the day. Second, arbitrarily opening the book to almost any page would reveal it to be an anthology of lyric poems. Such anthologies sometimes lacked an overriding organizational pattern and invited the reader to skip freely from page to page. Taken together, these cues contributed to a common reader's script: in this script, a potential reader picks up a book with the intentions of appraising what sort of reading experience it might offer, based on book-reading cues conventional for the reader's time and place, and of evaluating its potential interest. Then, the reader either proceeds to find time to read the book according to the orientational cues it offers or leaves it alone. While modern readers use the same basic script, modern editions of The Temple give mostly scholar's cues to potential readers: for example, this book is intended for research or for required reading in a course. Herbert's original readers, we must realize, received a very different message at their first encounter with his book — the promise of a flexible and personal devotional practice. In the case of The Temple, however, a second and less flexible script soon becomes active. It is a church-going script that includes three initial steps: one, an invitation to attend church with instructions on how to be a Christian; two, a moment of commitment to become a church-going person; and three (really a series of additional steps), an extended and regular pattern of church attendance and of daily meditation on the liturgy. In the 1633 edition, this script is activated immediately after some unusually brief introductory material, and it may have met expectations that the more discerning readers had from their first look at Herbert's book. As Annabel Patterson has pointed out, "the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-1192
Print ISSN
0161-7435
Pages
pp. 1-18
Launched on MUSE
2010-10-13
Open Access
No
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