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BOOK REVIEWS Kenneth Mason, George Herbert: Priest and Poet. Fairacres, Oxford: SLG Press, 1980. 27 pp. 50 pence. by P.G. Stanwood Kenneth Mason, who is currently Director of the Canterbury School of Ministry, has read Herbert's poetry and lectured on it with great sensitivity. His short monograph, though hardly more than a long article, grew out of a series of lectures, but it succeeds where many longerstudies of Herbert have sometimes failed. Mason's writing is a model of clarity and economy; and Mason himself is sympathetic both to the religious teaching of Herbert's poetry and to its technical achievement. Mason writes particularly of "The Collar," "Love" (III), "Aaron," and "The Flower" in four sections, each devoted to one of the poems. His theme is of that movement between God and man — between God's discipline and man's desire for freedom — and "man's unwillingness to surrender entirely to grace" (p. 12). The essay is especially about vocation or calling, as the double emphasis of the title points up — "Priest and Poet." We should thus expect Mason to write with special eloquence of "Aaron," and this is perhaps the best part of his study. In this poem, the rebellion of "The Collar" and the "sad humility" of "Love" (III) meet to define our slackness and misery. The theological and climactic center of "Aaron" is the point at which Herbert first names Christ Himself, for "Christ is the source, sustainer and fulfillment of our priesthood" — He is, indeed, our priesthood (p. 20). With fine understanding, Herbert writes "Christ is my onely head." When Mason discusses "The Flower," he is able to carry forward what he has previously said to help in his final elucidation. "To make us see we are but flowers that glide" is one of God's wonders, Herbert tactfully says, that leads us to "a garden . . . where to hide." The poet and priest is telling us again a lesson he gives in other places, and that is to look for God "beyond all things in the constancy of his promise" (p. 27). In the present moment is our hope for eternity, our desire for transcendence. Marked by Herbert's customary attitude, 61 P.G. Stanwood "The Flower" ends hopefully, but with longing. Christ's Resurrection is still taking place, its power known to us "within the fellowship of his sufferings." Mason's thoughtful and highly articulate reading of Herbert works well because it is always close to the text and also to the body of Christian belief that informs every word. One only wishes that Mason might have written more. This booklet, which is one in a series on various subjects, mainly devotional, may be obtained from Fairacres Publications, sponsored by the Sisters of the Love of God, an Anglican religious community. Write to SLG Press, Convent of the Incarnation, Fairacres, Oxford, England 0X4 1TB (price 5Op or about $1.50). University of British Columbia 62 ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-1192
Print ISSN
0161-7435
Pages
pp. 61-62
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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