This essay investigates Herbert’s process of actively avoiding his most deeply relevant conceptual terms: “host” in “Love (III)” and “choke” in “The Collar.” I argue that the residue of Herbert’s verbal erasures contributes to the attenuation of any dominant framework through which to bind together the poem’s various references to restraint, horticulture, and seafaring. This frustration is revealed through the poem’s critical history, in which a variety of governing concepts are promoted. A focus on expected images that are not fully present but are suggested by its title reveals Herbert’s own vexed relationship with satire, specifically his indebtedness to the language of satiric affect suitable to the poem’s rebellious dimension—an indebtedness that finally cannot be fully articulated, as the poem itself demonstrates, within a devotional context.


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pp. 73-94
Launched on MUSE
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