George Herbert's Literary Career as a Holy Laureate
This article examines George Herbert's entire oeuvre to emphasize the conscious textual construction of a literary career embedded within his works. Contrary to the prevailing scholarly conception of Herbert, his poetry and prose contain representations of laureate authorship that reveal sustained national ambition throughout his life. Indeed, throughout his career Herbert consistently reworks the relationship between poetry and the nation—a fact that challenges the critical trend to see Herbert's later poems as representing a poetry of retirement.
It might seem odd to associate George Herbert with the terms "literary career" and "laureate," given that he published only a small handful of Latin poems, letters, and orations during his lifetime. Indeed, it was not until after his death that his poetry was published by a friend, Nicholas Ferrar—hardly the decision of a would-be laureate, especially when juxtaposed with the decidedly more ambitious and national projects of Spenser, Ben Jonson, and Milton. For Richard Helgerson, Herbert was not a laureate, but instead an amateur.1 Helgerson argues that a laureate poet seeks out recognition and royal favor by publishing serious, national poetry all of his adult life.2 Conversely, an amateur poet avoids print, engages with playful, erotic poetry in his youth, and then turns to a more serious profession later in life, becoming a churchman or statesman.3 Herbert does not fit neatly into either of these categories. While he was a churchman, he never indulged in erotic poetry, and while his earlier Latin verse evinces national ambitions, he never actively sought to print his English poems.4 Instead, Herbert's poetry reveals the career track of what I call a holy laureate: a poet who never dabbles in erotic play but rather begins and ends a literary cursus with serious poetry that seeks to find a balance between duty to God and to the nation.
While critics rarely use the term "literary career" to describe the trajectory of Herbert's ouevre, they nonetheless have long debated its shape. Following his first biographer, Izaak Walton, [End Page 113] critics such as Christopher Hodgkins, Gina Marie Hurley, Clayton D. Lein, Anne-Marie Miller Blaise, Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, Amy M. Charles, Louis L. Martz, and F. E. Hutchinson have described Herbert's poetic career as commencing with public ambition and ending in private, devotional retirement.5 However, within the last forty years, critics—led largely by Cristina Malcolmson—have revised the notion that Herbert withdrew completely from the public sphere in his later life. In doing so, they have generally used one or more of four methods. First, Malcolmson, Ramie Targoff, Hodgkins, Sidney Gottlieb, Claude J. Summers, and Ted-Larry Pebworth address the sociopolitical dynamics of religion to posit that Herbert's late religious career evinces desire for advancement and that his devotional writings maintain a public dimension.6 Second, Malcolmson, Helen Wilcox, Ronald W. Cooley, Jeffrey Powers-Beck, and Michael C. Schoenfeldt turn to Herbert's family history to suggest that he preserved political ties with the Court and aristocracy.7 Third, John Drury, Greg Miller, and Malcolmson look to the Williams and Bodleian manuscripts, asserting that Herbert sought out scribal publication among coterie readers.8 Fourth, Cooley uses the early composition date of "The Country Parson" to demonstrate Herbert's continued ecclesiastical aspirations.9 These critics draw heavily upon biographical evidence in portraying Herbert's continued public ambition, and Malcolmson, in particular, has charted the public nature of what she has notably called Herbert's "literary career."10 Nonetheless, a critical study has yet to emphasize the conscious textual construction of a literary career embedded within Herbert's works. Here I take up Patrick Cheney's observation that "a 'life' becomes a 'career' when a writer can be seen to plot his time on earth through a sequence of literary works that stage both his and the works' development."11 Following critics who have already provided useful snapshots of Herbert's textual representations of a career, this article examines his entire oeuvre to piece together a comprehensive trajectory, one that represents a purposefully organized literary career.12 Just as biography-based criticism has helpfully illuminated the public nature of Herbert's later years, his poetry and prose contain representations of laureate authorship that reveal sustained poetic and national ambition throughout his life.
While Herbert's literary career as a holy laureate begins with the poet praising both earthly and heavenly kings and ends with the poet's singular devotion to God, the devotional poetry that marks the conclusion of his career nonetheless aims to fashion the nation by first reforming individuals. The holy laureate, therefore, [End Page 114] grapples with one fundamental paradox: how can he praise God and simultaneously rewrite the nation without yielding to sinful ambition? Using a methodology that identifies a literary career through poetic representations of ambition, inspiration, genre-patterning, and the nation, I will examine Herbert's New Year sonnets and Musae Responsoriae to track his initial counter-Du Bartian career move, one that rejects love poetry for poetry praising God and king.13 I will then consider in Memoriae Matris Sacrum what Helgerson calls "intermediate passages of transition" in which Herbert grapples with the theological dilemma of praising both mortals and the divine.14 Finally, I will explore The Temple and "The Country Parson," including the paratextual material, to chart how Herbert emends his earlier national project—one based on shaping national policy through poetic advice to the king—into one focused on praising God and, through that praise, transforming individuals who can then collectively change England's social and political structure. As we shall see, Herbert evinces a complex interweaving of secular and religious ambition throughout his works. He neither fully rejects nor propagates youthful Court aspirations later in life; rather, he reworks national ambition to fit into the devotional office of a holy laureate. Indeed, such a holy laureate must be ambitious—for without a national readership, he cannot induce people to repent and rewrite first their lives and subsequently the nation. Herbert therefore seeks out what he calls a "grain of glory," writing nationalistic poetry only to glorify and serve God's ends.15 In this way, the holy laureate can maintain ambition while remaining subservient to God, "Tall without height, / A servile hawk" ("Providence," p. 114, lines 103–4).
The initial stages of Herbert's literary career, what Lawrence Lipking calls the "initiation" phase of a poet's life, emerge in the double sonnets that Herbert gave his mother as a New Year's gift (1610) and his collection of Latin epigrams, Musae Responsoriae (1620–21).16 These poems engage in a tradition of devotional poetry that has been strongly identified with Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas. Du Bartas's "L'Uranie" (1574) reclaimed secular verse for devotional purposes and provided a critical model for religious lyric in early modern England, along with other pioneering works by Philip Sidney, Mary Herbert Sidney, and Robert Southwell.17 In "L'Uranie," Du Bartas establishes a career model for a devotional poet that includes five distinct characteristics: a renunciation of [End Page 115] courtly poetry for religious verse; a rejection of national ambition for eternal glory; a replacement of pagan mythology with biblical typology; an imitation of David as a religious poet; and a commitment to writing in one genre, i.e., devotional poetry.18 Critics have long illustrated Herbert's awareness of Du Bartas, primarily through Joshua Sylvester's translation of Du Bartas's Devine Weekes and Workes.19 In the initial phase of his career, Herbert emulates Du Bartas in reclaiming poetry for devotional uses; however, he departs from Du Bartas in nearly all other aspects. He does not forego nationalistic writing but places service to the king on par with service to God. He does not reject pagan mythology but folds it into his Christian theology. He does not imitate David as only a religious poet but rather as both a religious and national poet. And he does not limit his early works to devotional poetry: they include political epigrams, letters, orations, and praise poetry. In this regard, Herbert maintains what I call a counter-Du Bartian career trajectory—one that rescues lyric from erotic depravity and restores it for both devotional and national purposes.
Herbert's two New Year sonnets demonstrate a Du Bartian reclamation of secular lyric for the divine. In "Sonnet" (1), he questions whether poems,
Wear Venus' livery? only serve her turn?Why are not Sonnets made of thee [God]? and lays Upon thine altar burnt?(p. 197, lines 4–6)
Herbert, here, ostensibly rejects erotic poetry. However, locating his disapproval in the "livery" that poetry wears, he demonstrates his concern for mode and genre as much as for content. Sonnets and lays are not inherently antithetical to the divine. Love lyric possesses a unique ability to express ardency, and so Herbert commandeers it for its proper devotional use. He excogitates this Du Bartian program in "Sonnet" (2):
Why should I Women's eyes for Crystal take?Such poor invention burns in their low mind, Whose fire is wild, and doth not upward go To praise, and on thee Lord, some Ink bestow.(p. 198, lines 8–11) [End Page 116]
Questioning why he should metaphorize "Women's eyes" as "Crystal," Herbert sets his sonnet against Petrarchan poetry with its conventional blazons. In doing so, he illustrates his own career trajectory. Unlike traditional Petrarchan poets, he implies that he will "upward go," replacing "poor invention" and the "low mind" of erotic verse with the rich invention and high mind of devotional lyric. Intending to "on thee Lord, some Ink bestow," Herbert reveals his ambition to actively countermand lyric serving Eros by formally engaging with poetic modes and genres "[in] Ink."
Having set out his generic reclamation project, Herbert propels it forward by acknowledging his poetic competition and asserting divine poetry's superiority over its erotic counterpart. In "Sonnet" (1), he poses the question, "Cannot thy Dove / Outstrip their Cupid easily in flight?" (p. 197, lines 8–9). In biblical and classical traditions, writers associate the dove with a poet's or prophet's authority and source of inspiration.20 For Herbert, the dove becomes a marker of his divine poetics. The image of winged Cupid—an emblem of erotic poetry—stands opposed to dove-like devotional lyric. The possessive pronouns used to describe "thy Dove" and "their Cupid" lay out a stark us-versus-them rhetoric—not merely between God and Cupid but more specifically between Herbert and contemporary secular poets. In his demand, "Cannot thy Dove / Outstrip their Cupid," he implies an emphatic yes, championing his poetic ability. Responding to contemporary poets in this way, "Sonnet" (1) reveals Herbert thinking of himself as a poet in competitive, career-oriented terms. He endorses his poetry by highlighting God as the validating source of his inspiration and poetic authority.
Herbert departs from Du Bartas in the decidedly nationalistic aims of Musae Responsoriae. In his dedicatory epigram to King James, Herbert locates the king as the source of his poetic inspiration. Addressing James with the laudatory title of Caesar, Herbert writes,
Before the breeze of your favour, Caesar, shone upon me, My Muses too were vile mud:Now, by your power, their life is strong enough to creep, And bold enough to approach the chamber of your sun.(p. 207, lines 3–6)
Describing James as a "sun" shining upon him, Herbert compares the king's vivifying effect on his Muse to the enlivening power of [End Page 117] Christ, "the light of the world" and the "Sonne."21 James takes the same position that God occupies in Herbert's New Year sonnets. In effect, the king becomes both the source and locus of Herbert's praise.22 Musae Responsoriae, then, is inspired by and serves the earthly king in the same way that the two sonnets discussed above are inspired by and serve the heavenly deity.
The national service that Herbert renders is evident in Musae Responsoriae's overarching agenda. The full title—Georgii Herberti Angli Musae Responsoriae ad Andreae Melvini Scoti "Anti-Tami-Cami-Categoriam"—intimates to the reader that this poem responds to Andrew Melville's poem Pro Supplici Evangelicorum Ministrorum in Anglia. By repudiating Pro Supplici, Herbert establishes himself as anti-Puritan. Melville was a Presbyterian theologian and a principal at St. Mary's College who had a history of criticizing King James's religious politics.23 Pro Supplici responds to Oxford and Cambridge Universities' condemnation of the Millenary Petition given to James in 1603. This petition proposed liturgical changes to the Church of England based on a Puritan agenda that Melville's poem demanded James adopt. Melville takes a decidedly vatic approach in his defense of the petition: he outlines his position as a spokesman for God, what (in Alexander B. Grosart's 1874 translation) he calls a "Holy Office," saying, "I / Would faithful speak for Him on high" and "I now am to write; and petition bring / Humbly, in olden wise, to my King."24 The term "olden wise" describes the mode and office of Melville's delivery: he counsels and warns in the manner of ancient prophets who historically acted as kings' advisors, as Samuel did for Saul and Nathan for David.25 His model here follows in the tradition of Desiderius Erasmus's The Education of a Christian Prince, which maintains that scholar-philosophers play a preeminent role in government as counselors to princes, an ideology that dominated humanist political theory until the 1530s.26 Although Melville's poem establishes his authority firmly within the institution of the church, his ecclesiastical office empowers him to enact authority on a national level through petitioning the king. In short, as a holder of a "Holy office," Melville sets himself up as what I am calling a holy laureate—a religious poet invested in the political future of the nation. That Herbert responds to Melville with his own poem vigorously defining his poetic relation to the king suggests that Herbert understands Melville's poem as a bid for national influence and that he considers himself a competitor for the position.
In Epigram 23 of Musae Responsoriae, as it is numbered in the 2015 Penguin edition of Herbert's poetry, Herbert situates [End Page 118] himself genealogically as holy laureate among classical and biblical poetic predecessors, describing himself in Davidic tones as a poet with national clout.27 He charts out the heritage of what he calls "Musicâ Sacrâ" or "Sacred Music" from the classical craft of Deucalion, Orpheus, and Amphion up through the "holy song" of Moses and David ("De Musicâ Sacrâ," p. 232; and "On Sacred Music," p. 233 and p. 235, line 32). By positioning Moses and David in line with classical figures of music and creation, Herbert joins their prophetic and national roles with artistic ones. Significantly, Herbert chooses different biblical figures with whom to identify than Melville does: Melville adopts the role of a prophet—traditionally, a critic of ecclesiastical authority—while Herbert aligns himself with figures that wield national power. Placing David last in his chronology of artists, Herbert pinpoints the royal king of Israel as the figure from whom he will inherit the role of England's national poet. When Herbert asks, "Do you block your crude ears, new flock, / And fail to hear?," he casts the people of England as the new audience for the national poetry whose heritage he has just described (p. 235, lines 45–6). The word translated to "flock" is the Latin grex. While grex refers to a herd of animals, it also denotes a general mass of people with common interests and goals.28 Following references to Moses and David, Herbert's use of grex reflects the Christian idea of a congregation as flock and the minister as pastor or shepherd. But Moses and David were also political rulers. Grex, then, also describes a group of people that make up a political body. Herbert's "new flock" includes both church and state. And a new flock needs a new shepherd. Hence, he writes himself as the inheritor of Deucalion and David, a holy laureate who writes sacred music to spiritually and politically shape the "crude ears" of the English people.
Herbert specifies the primary mode by which a holy laureate will reform the nation's "crude ears": through counseling the king. He titles his first epigram (as numbered in the Penguin edition) "Ad Regem Instituti Epigrammatici Ratio," which Victoria Moul translates as "To the King: The Reason for Writing Epigrams" (see pp. 210–1). The emphasis on his "Reason for Writing" establishes this epigram as prime territory for investigating Herbert's laureate agenda:
Since a thousand matters, it is agreed, beat upon your mind And the world hangs upon its work;And because I am afraid to wear you out with long and laboured verses, [End Page 119] Instead of one large and complete song, CAESAR,I shall give you bits and pieces.While you are beating down the Cathars, with your bearing and your books, I am glad of the crumbs from your table.(p. 211, lines 1–6)
Herbert here demonstrates what he considers the connection among laureate, king, and nation. He describes the extent of James's authority as "the world," a hyperbolic description of James's rule over England, Scotland, and Ireland. He also locates national authority not in James as a sovereign entity but specifically in James's mind—"a thousand matters … beat upon your mind / And the world hangs upon its work." Herbert makes evident here his national bid. He wants his poetry to influence James's opinion concerning national issues, specifically those regarding religious policies. Indeed, Herbert seems to have intimate access to the king's thinking when he describes James "beating down the Cathars [i.e., Puritans]": he does not ask for James to reject the Millenary Petition but assumes he will. It is not a matter of if but when. In effect, James's mind and authority are depicted as extensions of Herbert's own anti-Puritan stance. In this bold display, Herbert illustrates that a holy laureate can not only read the king's mind but also shape it and national policy through poetically rendered counsel.29
Despite the attention that Herbert places on the nation and king in Musae Responsoriae, he does not expunge God from his poetics or his career. Rather, he ends his epigrams with an invocation to God, revealing that a holy laureate writes poetry inspired by the king and God simultaneously:
O sweetest Spirit,You who sow the seeds of holy groans in men's mind, Groans that pour down from you, the Turtle- Dove—What I write, and the pleasure I give, if I do so, is all yours.(p. 255, lines 11–4)
Notwithstanding his epigrams' politically charged objectives, Herbert inserts God's spiritual presence into these poems. Earthly ambition and divine praise are reconciled here since the symbol of [End Page 120] divine authority, the dove, continues to mark his poetry. Caesar and the divine inspire his epigrams. Indeed, both figures facilitate his other early works: Herbert dedicates his collection of Latin epigrams, Passio Discerpta, to the crucified Christ, while his letters and orations as "Public Orator" advise the monarch to maintain a peaceful foreign relations policy in Bohemia.30 His collection of Latin epigrams titled Lucus inserts a political agenda (in favor of James's pacific policy) among religious topoi.31 Herbert's early poetry, therefore, lays out the initial path of his literary career, one invested in poetically representing his service to divine and earthly authority figures. For God, he transforms a poetic genre; for King James, he advises on foreign relations and ecclesiastical policies.
One of the few works published in Herbert's lifetime, Memoriae Matris Sacrum (1627), contains not only a son's heartsick elegy for his deceased mother but also a poetic fiction that reveals what Helgerson describes as the "intermediate" phase of a laureate's career.32 In this set of nineteen epigrams, Herbert grapples with the theological disjunction involved in praising a human—his mother, Magdalen Herbert—when God demands a believer's entire heart. Hence these funeral epigrams serve as a site where Herbert questions the trajectory of his laureateship and deconstructs his previous equipollent effusions for both God and king.
Herbert highlights his attention to career in Memoriae Matris Sacrum by discussing his mother's death in terms of poetic ambition. He questions how he can continue to write poetry with her gone, saying "For what is the laurel to me, / What nectar, unless I spend the day with you?" (p. 317, lines 15–6). While the grief-stricken Herbert frames his mother's death in terms of what he considers laureate poetry, he also devalues that poetry and wonders whether he will be able to produce any more. In this regard, his mother—while alive—embodied the generative ability to produce poetry worthy of laurels. The Latin mater, meaning mother, is etymologically tied to matrix, meaning a womb or a place where something is generated.33 Herbert's mother represents a model of poetic production that leads to fame and immortality. Her death, then, represents a crucial juncture in his career. With his mother's absence, Herbert fears the collapse of an authorial model that validates poetic fame and laurels. [End Page 121]
In effect, Magdalen Herbert represents a classical model of fama that competes with its Christian counterpart. Epigram 2 expounds on her inspirational role:
For as a mother you shall be praised for ever moreBy your grieving son: this my letters owe to you—The letters you taught me; gladly they smear the pagesHaving pursued the greatest fruit of their toilsIn praising my Mother.(p. 307, lines 61–5)
Herbert frames his mother as the generative source of his poetics.34 She has endowed Herbert with an ability to produce and so deserves praises of his "Fructum … maximum"—his "greatest" or best fruit (Memoriae Matris Sacrum, p. 306, line 64). This image highlights a theological problem. In the Old Testament, "fruits" are offered up as sacrifices for God in accordance with commandments that the Children of Israel offer up the "first of thy ripe fruits"—their best fruits—unto him.35 Offering his "greatest" fruits to his mother and not God, Herbert elevates her above the divine, dancing dangerously close to blasphemy. Magdalen represents a model of fama, which promotes personal ambition and service to the nation, such as that espoused in imperial Rome.36 Such a model contradicts the Christian idea of immortality based on rendering service and praise to God alone. Herbert's poetry exhibits awareness of this problem, for, in a moment of ostensible self-contradiction and confused cerebral wrestling, Herbert declares that he is "devoutly shameless" in praising his mother but then stops short: "Do I bring back my tongue for her, only to bite it?" (p. 307, lines 59–60). He cannot help but bite his tongue in shame as he presents textual offerings to his mother rather than the Christian God. His earlier program of offering praise to both the mortal James and the immortal God here falls apart.
However, Herbert resolves this dilemma by making Memoriae Matris Sacrum a final indulgence, resolving to follow a career track that will forsake the praise of a mortal for that of the divine. Herbert's shift in models of fama has historical precedence. Early Christian authors Augustine and Juvencus and Italian Renaissance writers Jacopo Sannazaro and Marco Girolamo Vida, and even later Milton, found a disjuncture between the Roman ideal of public fama and Christian humility, between poetic immortality and Christian eternity, and between praise of self and praise of the divine.37 These authors revised Roman notions of fama into [End Page 122] ones more compatible with Christianity. In his final epigram of Memoriae Matris Sacrum, Herbert does the same:
I had shaken the reed pipes from my hand, and takenup once more the scythe In the fields: the Muse said that this was an insult to her.She confronts my Mother (having bribed the Fates witha song) And, sickened by her death, claims worship in compensation.I could not but go on, under the harsh lash of her whip: And indeed my Mother's overwhelming honour demands such songs.All right, come on then, I'm writing: you've won, Muse.But listen: I'm writing these trivial poems just once, to be silent ever after.(p. 329, lines 1–8)
These lines present an intricate fiction about Herbert's career. The Muse—here a representation not of Magdalen Herbert but of classical, secular poetry—becomes angered because Herbert has declared his intent to stop writing poetry that praises mortals, abandoning his "reed pipes." Indeed, he will no longer allow his mother's "honour" to inspire his poetry. While it may be tempting to see the phrase "to be silent ever after" as a declaration that he will stop writing poetry altogether, the "tak[ing] up once more"—the Latin resumptus—of a scythe instead of reed pipes suggests that he will resume another type of poetic work. Herbert replaces the generative abilities of his mother as matris/matrix with agricultural fecundity. While he does not elucidate the type of poetry that the scythe represents, the image resonates with the biblical topos of converting souls as harvesting a field: in the Gospel of John, Christ describes his work of religious proselytizing, stating, "Lift vp your eyes, and looke on the fields: for they are white already to haruest."38 Using similar language of fruition, Herbert marks his transition from a poetry that praises mortals to one that serves God and cultivates souls. As we shall see in The Temple, Herbert structures the final leg of his career around a Christian model that offers praise to God in an effort to "haruest" the souls of England's inhabitants. [End Page 123]
The Temple and "The Country Parson" represent the culmination of Herbert's literary career. Since the Williams manuscript of The Temple was transcribed sometime around 1623, we might well question how The Temple could represent a culmination of Herbert's career when it was begun before the 1627 publication of Memoriae Matris Sacrum.39 Malcolmson has convincingly argued that the Williams manuscript maintains a concern with social status, while the Bodleian manuscript—revised after Magdalen Herbert's death in 1627—shifts attention from "courtiership to holiness."40 In effect, the differences between these manuscripts echo the transition that Memoriae Matris Sacrum demarcates in its fictions of authorship. Hence in The Temple Herbert leaves behind poetry that idolizes mortal muses. He forgoes praising the king, using the language of praise instead to honor God. However, that does not mean he rejects poetry that has national ambitions. The Temple still aims to shape the nation by first forming individual lives. In this regard Herbert remains in service to the king but avoids elevating him to a position that parallels the divine. Although Herbert himself never put The Temple into print, which would have been a telltale sign of a laureate, his poetry demonstrates laureate ambition in its attempts to direct and shape Englishmen and women's souls.
The dedicatory epigram to The Temple specifies the type of poetry that the "scythe" in Memoriae Matris Sacrum will now allow Herbert to write:
Lord, my first fruits present themselves to thee;Yet not mine neither: for from thee they came,And must return.(p. 7, lines 1–3)
Echoing the language of fecundity and "greatest fruit[s]" from Memoriae Matris Sacrum, Herbert positions The Temple in relation to his funeral epigrams. He again uses the language of generation to mark his career agenda. These poems, as poetic and fruitful offerings, praise God and acknowledge him—not Magdalen Herbert—as the source of their generation. Herbert emphasizes this turn when he consistently uses the term "Mother" in "Lent," "The British Church," and "Church-rents and Schisms" to refer to the church (p. 82, line 5; p. 104, line 1; p. 134, lines 11 and 24). The church, and by extension God, replace his mother's role [End Page 124] as matrix and muse of his poetry. Whereas Herbert struggles in Memoriae Matris Sacrum to fulfill the biblical injunction to offer up his best fruits to God, Herbert here fulfills his promise of picking up the "scythe," harvesting verse for the divine rather than penning praise for mortals.41
"The Country Parson" makes clear Herbert's commitment to this divine program by revisiting Du Bartas's project of reclaiming secular verse for the divine. In his note to the reader, Herbert states that he intends to write a conduct manual for parsons that will "grow to a complete pastoral."42 Playing on the idea of parson as pastor/shepherd to his parish/flock, Herbert suggests that his work will "complete" the pastoral genre. Specifically, the word "pastoral" evokes the work's generic ambitions.43 As with the sonnets of his youth, here Herbert does not reject the pastoral as an erotic genre incompatible with devotion. Rather, he aims to reform it. If Herbert likens his conduct manual to a poetic genre, then we too can consider the pastor as a pastoral poet. Herbert writes that a pastor "is not witty, or learned, or eloquent, but holy."44 A "complete" pastoral poet—a holy laureate—does not espouse the wit of Spenser's Colin Clout nor the eloquence of Christopher Marlowe's passionate shepherd. Instead, he is "holy" in the word's sense of set apart and dedicated, serving God rather than wit, knowledge, or artistic expression.
That Herbert firmly fixes his poetry on the divine does not disqualify him from having nationalistic ambition.45 The dedication preceding "The Church-porch" requests that God "turn their eyes hither," and we can assume that by "their eyes" Herbert means his audience (p. 7, line 5). But exactly who his audience is remains unclear in the opening lines of "The Church-porch," which address an ambiguous "Thou" and expresses hope that "a verse may find [thee] … / And turn delight into a sacrifice" (p. 9, lines 1 and 5–6). Herbert's verse has a transformative agenda: it hopes to turn eyes and change personal motivations. But, whom specifically does "their" and "Thou" refer to? We do not find an answer until some ninety lines into the poem, when Herbert proclaims, "O England!" (p. 12, line 91). At this moment, the Herbert of Musae Responsoriae returns, but changed. Although he refers to kingship in The Temple, such as in "Jordan (I)" (see p. 54, line 15), Herbert neither uses a proper pronoun to name the king nor flatteringly compares him to the sun or to Caesar. The king simply becomes one figure among the magistrates, soldiers, courtiers, dames, youths, husbands, wives, servants, heralds, gamblers, and gallants that inhabit the English landscape of "The Church-porch." [End Page 125] The poem voices an ambition to reach out to every type of British subject and "turn" them into good Christians.
Herbert's national interests become explicit in his vision of the church as a national entity. In "Superliminare," Herbert sets himself up as an officiant to his poetry. He stands at the threshold of a metaphoric church—figuratively at the door, as superliminare means lintel in Latin—and invites his reader in. He casts his reader in the role of a parishioner who has been "Sprinkled and taught" with the "former precepts" of "The Church-porch" (p. 25, lines 1–2). It is only later on that Herbert identifies the church in which he officiates, with a poem titled "The British Church" (p. 104). Indeed, we might remember the political heritage of the Church of England: in The Church Militant, Herbert portrays England as "Giving the Church a crown to keep her state" (p. 184, line 91). By doing so, Herbert illuminates the political structure inherent in the church and the potential for devotional poetry to serve the state. Hence when Herbert addresses "Thou" in "Superliminare," he is not simply instructing a churchgoer but fashioning a citizen of the nation (p. 25, line 1).
By depicting the Church of England with a "crown," Herbert parallels ecclesiastical with civil authority. In "Lent," Herbert describes believers' "Temperance" during Lent as "Giv[ing] … thy Mother [the church]" the "Authority" that they would to any other "Corporation" (p. 82, lines 2–6). The terms "Authority" and "Corporation" refer to the church's status as an ecclesiastical institution. However, "Corporation" has secular connotations since it denotes a civil group "created by royal charter, prescription, or act of the legislature."46 In his demand that believers treat the church like any other "Corporation," Herbert aligns its authority with that of other civil institutions. As a result, he joins the ecclesiastical language of temperance with the national language of order. He asserts that "True Christians should be glad of an occasion / To use their temperance, seeking no evasion" of "obligation" (p. 82, lines 13–7). Ecclesiastical commands, such as the one to regulate human appetites, become a means for civil control, reminding believers of their social obligations.
Thus, instead of directing the king's mind to influence national policy as in Musae Responsoriae, in The Temple Herbert aims to reform the souls of individual citizens, an act that—as Hodgkins notes—will collectively transform the nation by revitalizing its social and political structures.47 In "An Offering," Herbert explores the moral and political power of an individual: "Yet one, if good, may title to a number; / And single things grow fruitful by deserts" [End Page 126] (p. 141, lines 9–10). Although he speaks about the moral impact of the "one," an individual or a good deed, we should not consider "single things [that] grow fruitful" without acknowledging the repeated connections Herbert makes between poetry and fruits, especially fruit as "Offering[s]." The title of this poem, paired with the image of deeds grown fruitful, gestures toward the poems Herbert offers as sacrificial "first fruits" in "The Dedication." We can then assume that the general reference to "one" and "single things"—surrounded by the textual language of fruit and offerings—might well refer to the holy laureate's poetry, as much as to any other good deed. Herbert elucidates the decidedly nationalistic scope of such poetry, saying, "In public judgements one may be a nation, / And fence a plague, while others sleep and slumber" ("An Offering," p. 141, lines 11–2). Wilcox indicates that these lines refer to 1 Chronicles 21:17, where David suffers in order to save his people.48 As in Musae Responsoriae, Herbert evokes the national role of David in connection with poetics: if David can influence the fate of Israel, then "public," poetic judgments can also impact England. Certainly, Herbert's proverbial advice in "The Church-porch" constitutes "public" judgment since it freely censures all sorts of public ills. And Herbert's indication that public judgments can ameliorate the plague of "sleep and slumber" resembles his concern in "The Country Parson," in which he tells parsons to consider "The great and national sin of this land … to be idleness."49 In "An Offering," Herbert envisions poetic "things" attending to "national sin," fencing national plagues with poetic judgment. In such judgments, then, Herbert can shape the nation because the "one" who follows poetic advice "may be a nation" in his or her potential to impact others. In effect, he localizes the nation within the individual. Hence, in "The Church-porch" Herbert not only speaks to an abstracted England in apostrophe but also enumerates individuals by their social roles (husbands and wives) and political titles (magistrates and courtiers), all of which represent England's overarching social and political structures. Inasmuch as one individual "may be a nation," one poem too can generate nationwide change.
Hence, Herbert envisions personal, spiritual reformation as the means to achieve social and political order. In "The Family," he describes how God should tend to his "house" and "family" by "Turn[ing] out these wranglers [i.e., Puritans]" (p. 130, lines 5 and 7). Wilcox suggests that Herbert here "interlock[s] … images of individual, family, house, and church."50 Hence, Herbert envisions Puritan "wranglers" not only influencing parishioners' personal [End Page 127] spirituality but also, more importantly, harming the ecclesiastical structure of the church and, thus, the political structure of the state. He depicts the consequences of church disorder in "Church-rents and Schisms," comparing the church to a rose of Sharon and describing the "debates and fretting jealousies" that have "worm[ed] and work[ed]" their way in (p. 134, lines 16–7). As a result, the church is "Turnèd" from "ruddy into pale and bleak" and its "health and beauty both beg[i]n to break" (p. 134, lines 19–20). "[D]ebates" vitiate the "beauty" of church doctrine, and "jealousies" threaten to "break" ecclesiastical order, impairing the church's "health." In "Doomsday," Herbert further demonstrates how a fractious church leads to political disorder: the "flock doth stray" and "Some in noisome vapours grow / To a plague and public woe" (p. 179, lines 20 and 23–4). The "noisome" fumes of individuals' spiritually decaying bodies generate larger problems for the state: social "plague[s]" and political "woe[s]." Such fear of religious and sociopolitical disorder, specifically from Puritan "wranglers," mirrors Herbert's distress over Puritan policies in Musae Responsoriae. Rather than attempting to induce the king to resolve the problem, Herbert goes directly to its source: his poetry aims to spiritually transform individuals and, thereby, create public and national order—an ambitious project indeed.
A poetic agenda of such national magnitude might seem to contradict the humble stance that Herbert takes in "The Dedication." However, Herbert's poetry charts how exactly a holy laureate can maintain Christian humility and seek out poetic glory. In "The Church-porch," Herbert instructs his reader, "Pitch thy behaviour low, thy projects high; / So shalt thou humble and magnanimous be" in order to obtain "A grain of glory mixt with humbleness" (p. 20, lines 331–2 and 335). God validates "high" projects, it seems, when believers seek only a small grain of glory. This idea finds resonance in the poem "Providence" when Herbert describes the Holy Spirit as "tall without height, / A servile hawk: low without loss, a spade" (p. 114, lines 103–4). While he does not overtly connect the hawk and spade to poetry here, his consistent comparison of poetic inspiration to a bird—a "Dove" as symbolic of the Holy Spirit—and poetic creation to a farm tool—a "scythe" for harvesting verse—justifies our doing so. Herbert seeks out the high project of writing the nation, the "tall" flight of national poetry, but he pitches his poetic behavior "low" by making his poetry serve the divine. He generates a national poetics that yields ambition and praise to a falconer-like God. His poetry, however, maintains value (remains "without loss") in its capacity to enact [End Page 128] national change. Ultimately, Herbert seeks "a grain of glory"—the attention of England—in order to catalyze individual and national transformation with his devotional poetry.
For Herbert, such a national project is also a laureate one. In "The Collar," he echoes his worries in Memoriae Matris Sacrum that he might never gain laurels:
Have I no bays to crown it?No flowers, no garlands gay? All blasted? All wasted?(p. 146, lines 14–6)
However, he recants his anxieties by declaring, "Not so, my heart: but there is fruit, / And thou hast hands" (p. 146, lines 17–8). Once again comparing fruit to poetry, Herbert reasons that he has labored with his hands diligently enough to produce poetic fruit worthy of laurels or bays. But these laurels are not designed to monumentalize his own fame. In "A Wreath," Herbert indicates that he has won a bay crown but clarifies that "A wreathèd garland of deservèd praise, / Of praise deservèd, unto thee I give" (p. 177, lines 1–2). Rather than adorning his head with laurels, Herbert yields them, and subsequent praise, to God. Similarly, in "Employment" (1) Herbert declares,
The sweetness and the praise were thine; But the extension and the room,Which in thy garland I should fill, were mine.(p. 54, lines 5–7)
Traditional readings of this line describe Herbert as a flower in God's garland. Yet the juxtaposition of "thine" sweet praises with "mine" extension and room suggests that the space implied by "extension and the room" is not just a physical opening in the garland but also a space of poetic praise. Additionally, like John Donne in "The Canonization," Herbert puns on the Italian word for "stanza," which also means "room."51 Herbert "fill[s]" the garland with room-like stanzas of sweet praise. Nevertheless, he characterizes the garland as God's. Herbert possesses the ambition to seek laurels—to become a laureate—but he redirects that ambition and bestows his laurels upon the divine.
Finally, we might ask ourselves, can we call Herbert a laureate if he did not seek out public attention by publishing The Temple [End Page 129] while living? That he gave his poems to Ferrar with the injunction to print or burn them does express his intent to publish them. This memorable narrative from Herbert's life corresponds with moments in his poems when he anticipates an audience reading them: "Turn their eyes hither, who shall make a gain: / Theirs, who shall hurt themselves or me, refrain" ("The Dedication," p. 7, lines 5–6). Herbert's deathbed request reveals first that he envisioned these poems as potential material for a public audience and second that he had a desire to print them, although he displaced that desire onto Ferrar.52 What better way to maintain the humility demanded by God and seek out national attention than by publishing poems when he himself is gone? Herbert displaces his ambition away from himself and onto his poetry, seeking public recognition in order to effect his poems' transformative agenda.
The contours of Herbert's literary career demonstrate that he is deserving of the title of holy laureate.53 His prose and poetic representations of his career allow us to recognize that Herbert consistently analyzed and reworked the relationship between poetry and the nation—a fact that challenges the critical trend that views Herbert's later poems as representing a poetry of retirement. His sonnets to his mother set a precedent for the rest of his career, which is characterized by meticulous exploration of the proper source of and locus for poetic praise. In these explorations, Herbert puts the relationship between divine and national authority consistently at the forefront. The careful formulations and reformulations of this relationship—from his early Latin poetry to his later English devotional lyrics—should inhibit us from categorizing any part of his career as either entirely public or private. His public poetry does not excise God from the picture and his private poetry does not expunge national ambition.54 Instead, we see a thoughtful progression from his early poetry's equal devotion to personal ambition and God to The Temple's sophisticated reckoning with the sinful pride inherent in seeking fame. In the end, Herbert generates a refined vision of national ambition: ambition becomes a vehicle for magnifying and promulgating not himself but God. Divine poetry that aims to spiritually change individuals, as Herbert's certainly does, cannot retire but rather must sustain public aspirations to reach a national audience and enact its devotional purposes. Herbert's literary career, then, suggests that we might reconsider his devotional poetry as laureate poetry: poetry that seeks out a small grain of glory in order to enact the devotional agenda of a "servile hawk." [End Page 130]
Brice Peterson's research investigates the intersections among literature, religion, and medicine in early modern England. His essay "Pregnancy and Anxiety: Medicine, Religion, and the Occult in Cotton Mather's The Angel of Bethesda" was recently published in American Literature and the New Puritan Studies. He is completing a dissertation on regeneration in early modern literature at Pennsylvania State University.
1. Richard Helgerson contends that George Herbert's 1633 collection of poems, as well as John Donne's, inaugurated an epoch when "a collected edition no longer meant 'laureate'" (Self-Crowned Laureates: Spenser, Jonson, Milton, and the Literary System [Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1983], p. 255).
2. See Helgerson, pp. 24–39.
3. See Helgerson, pp. 28–30 and 39.
4. A potential outlier is "Aethiopissa ambit Cestum Diuersi Coloris Virum," what John Drury and Victoria Moul identify as "the only straightforward 'love poem' attributed to him [Herbert]" (The Complete Poetry, ed. Drury and Moul, with translations from the Latin by Moul [London: Penguin, 2015], p. 553). While this poem engages with erotic themes, it does so in a finite display of wit and generic capabilities rather than the habit of erotic play that Helgerson ascribes to amateurs; see Self-Crowned Laureates, p. 39.
5. See Izaak Walton, "The Life of Mr. George Herbert," in The Complete English Works, ed. Ann Pasternak Slater, Everyman's Library (New York: A. Knopf, 1995), pp. 338–85, esp. 352; Christopher Hodgkins, "'Outstrip Their Cupid': Family Relations, Aesthetic Anxiety, and Redirected Desire in Herbert's English Poetry," GHJ 37, 1 and 2 (Fall 2013/Spring 2014): 13–32, esp. 18–20; Gina Marie Hurley, "'All in Sport to Geere at Me': George Herbert and Gerald of Wales on the Welsh Margins," GHJ 37, 1 and 2 (Fall 2013/Spring 2014): 71–83; Clayton D. Lein, "At the Porch to the Temple: Herbert's Progress to Bemerton," in George Herbert's Pastoral: New Essays on the Poet and Priest of Bemerton, ed. Hodgkins (Newark: Univ. of Delaware Press, 2010), pp. 134–57; Anne-Marie Miller Blaise, "George Herbert's Distemper: An Honest Shepherd's Remedy for Melancholy," GHJ 30, 1 and 2 (Fall 2006/Spring 2007): 59–82, esp. 59–61; Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, "George Herbert: Artful Psalms from the Temple in the Heart," in Protestant Poetics and the Seventeenth-Century Religious Lyric (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1979), pp. 283–316, esp. 283–6; Amy M. Charles, A Life of George Herbert (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1977), pp. 87–8; Louis L. Martz, The Poetry of Meditation: A Study in English Religious Literature of the Seventeenth Century, Yale Studies in English 125 (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1954), pp. 259–73; and F. E. Hutchinson, introduction to The Works of George Herbert, ed. Hutchinson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1941), pp. xxi–lxxvii, esp. xxx–xxxvi.
6. See Cristina Malcolmson, George Herbert: A Literary Life, Literary Lives (Basingstoke UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), pp. ix–xiii; Ramie Targoff, "George Herbert and the Devotional Lyric," in Common Prayer: The Language of Public Devotion in Early Modern England (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2001), pp. 85–117; Hodgkins, Authority, Church, and Society in George Herbert: Return to the Middle Way (Columbia: Univ. of Missouri Press, 1993), pp. 87–9, 181–209; Sidney Gottlieb, "The Social and Political Backgrounds of George Herbert's Poetry," in "The Muses Common-Weale": Poetry and Politics in the Seventeenth Century, ed. Claude J. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth, Essays in Seventeenth-Century Literature 3 (Columbia: Univ. of Missouri Press, 1988), pp. 107–18; Summers and Pebworth, "The Politics of The Temple: The British Church and The Familie," GHJ 8, 1 (Fall 1984): 1–15; and Summers and Pebworth, "Herbert, Vaughan, and Public Concerns in Private Modes," GHJ 3, 1 and 2 (Fall 1979/Spring 1980): 1–21, esp. 1–9.
7. See Malcolmson, "William Herbert's Gardener: Adrian Gilbert," in George Herbert's Pastoral, pp. 113–33, esp. 123–30; Helen Wilcox, "Herbert, George (1593–1633)," in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn. (Oxford Univ. Press, 2004), https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/13025; Ronald W. Cooley, "Full of All Knowledg": George Herbert's "Country Parson" and Early Modern Social Discourse (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 2004), pp. 40–1; Jeffrey Powers-Beck, "Writing the Flesh: The Herbert Family Dialogue," in Writing the Flesh: The Herbert Family Dialogue (Pittsburgh PA: Duquesne Univ. Press, 1998), pp. 1–32; and Michael C. Schoenfeldt, "'Subject to Ev'ry Mounters Bended Knee': Herbert and Authority," in Prayer and Power: George Herbert and Renaissance Courtship (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1991), pp. 21–56.
8. See Drury, Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2013), pp. 280–2; Greg Miller, "Scribal and Print Publication: The Case of George Herbert's English Poems," GHJ 23, 1 and 2 (Fall 1999/Spring 2000): 14–34; and Malcolmson, "George Herbert and Coterie Verse," in Heart-Work: George Herbert and the Protestant Ethic (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1999), pp. 46–68.
9. See Cooley, "John Davenant, The Country Parson, and Herbert's Calvinist Conformity," GHJ 23, 1 and 2 (Fall 1999/Spring 2000): 1–13, esp. 8.
10. Malcolmson, George Herbert, p. ix. Malcolmson's George Herbert performs the most complete survey of Herbert's literary career to date. She combines Herbert's biography and sociopolitical context with readings of his poetry and prose, while I focus on the conscious textual construction of a literary career embedded within Herbert's works.
11. Patrick Cheney, "Introduction: 'Jog on, jog on': European Career Paths," in European Literary Careers: The Author from Antiquity to the Renaissance, ed. Cheney and Frederick A. de Armas (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 2002), pp. 3–23, 8.
12. For those critics who have explored fictions of a literary career in Herbert's works, see Malcolmson, George Herbert, pp. 6–8; Cheney, Spenser's Famous Flight: A Renaissance Idea of a Literary Career (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1993), pp. 286–7n11; and Nita Krevans, "Bookburning and the Poetic Deathbed: The Legacy of Virgil," in Classical Literary Careers and Their Reception, ed. Philip Hardie and Helen Moore (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010), pp. 197–208, esp. 201–3.
13. I derive my methodology from career critics, such as Helgerson, pp. 1–54; Lawrence Lipking, "Preface: The Life of the Poet," in The Life of the Poet: Beginning and Ending Poetic Careers (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1981), pp. vii–xiii; Cheney, "Introduction"; and Hardie and Moore, "Introduction: Literary Careers—Classical Models and Their Receptions," in Classical Literary Careers and Their Reception, pp. 1–16.
14. Helgerson, p. 13.
15. Herbert, "The Church-porch," in The Complete Poetry, p. 20, line 335. All subsequent references to Herbert's poetry are drawn from this edition; they are identified by title and appear parenthetically in the text and notes by page and, where applicable, line number.
16. Lipking, p. ix.
17. See Lily B. Campbell, Divine Poetry and Drama in Sixteenth-Century England (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1959), p. 80; Kimberly Anne Coles, Religion, Reform, and Women's Writing in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2008), pp. 100–1; and Martz, pp. 183–5.
18. See Campbell, pp. 78–80; Lewalski, pp. 231–2; and Cheney, Spenser's Famous Flight, pp. 61 and 204–5.
19. See Malcolmson, Heart-Work, p. 83; Bart Westerweel, Patterns and Patterning: A Study of Four Poems by George Herbert, Costerus New Series 41 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1984), pp. 79–82 and 93; Martin Elsky, "George Herbert's Pattern Poems and the Materiality of Language: A New Approach to Renaissance Hieroglyphics," ELH 50, 2 (Summer 1983): 245–60, esp. 249; and Mary Ellen Rickey, Utmost Art: Complexity in the Verse of George Herbert (Lexington: Univ. of Kentucky Press, 1966), pp. 8–13.
20. See Cheney, Spenser's Famous Flight, pp. 65–72.
21. John 9:5 and 3:16; all biblical quotations are drawn from The Holy Bible, Conteyning the Old Testament, and the New (London: Robert Barker, 1611); EEBO STC (2d edn.) 2216.
22. See Malcolmson, George Herbert, p. 33.
24. Andrew Melville, A Defence in Behalf of the Petition of the Evangelical Ministers in England, trans. Alexander B. Grosart, in The Complete Works in Verse and Prose of George Herbert, ed. Grosart, 3 vols., Fuller Worthies' Library 33 (London: Robson and Sons, 1874), 2:97–107, lines 5–6 and 16–8. For the original Latin, see Melville, Pro Supplici Evangelicorum Ministrorum in Anglia, in The Complete Works, 2:89–97.
25. For discussion on prophets as royal advisors, see William M. Schniedewind, The Word of God in Transition: From Prophet to Exegete in the Second Temple Period, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 197 (Sheffield UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), p. 107.
26. See Greg Walker, Writing under Tyranny: English Literature and the Henrician Reformation (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2005), pp. 142–4 and 415.
27. See Herbert, Musae Responsoriae—The Muses' Reply, in The Complete Poetry, pp. 206–55.
28. See Oxford Latin Dictionary, 1st edn. (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1982), s.v. "grex," 1, 2, and 3.
29. See Malcolmson, George Herbert, p. 46.
30. See Malcolmson, George Herbert, pp. 40–9.
31. See Malcolmson, George Herbert, pp. 48–51.
32. Helgerson, p. 13.
33. OED, 3d edn., s.v. "matrix, n.," I.2a.
34. See Greg Miller, "Self-Parody and Pastoral Praise: George Herbert's Memoriae Matris Sacrum," GHJ 26, 1 and 2 (Fall 2002/Spring 2003): 15–34, 19–22.
35. Exod. 22:29. See also Deut. 26:1–2.
36. See Leo Braudy, The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and Its History (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1986), pp. 150–1.
37. See Hardie, "Christian Conversions of Fama," in Rumour and Renown: Representations of "Fama" in Western Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2012), pp. 411–38; and Braudy, pp. 150–80.
38. John 4:35. See also Matt. 9:36–8.
39. On the transcription of the Williams manuscript circa 1623, see Drury, Music at Midnight, p. 139.
40. Malcolmson, Heart-Work, pp. 99–100, esp. 100.
41. Malcolmson similarly suggests that "The Dedication" repeats similar poems in Musae Responsoriae but focuses on God as the sole source of inspiration rather than a human patron (George Herbert, p. 57).
42. Herbert, "The Country Parson, His Character, and Rule of Holy Life," in The Complete English Works, pp. 195–256, esp. 196.
43. See Hodgkins, "Introduction: Reforming Pastoral: Herbert and the Singing Shepherds," in George Herbert's Pastoral, pp. 15–31, esp. 18–22.
44. Herbert, "The Country Parson," p. 205.
45. See Diana Benet, Secretary of Praise: The Poetic Vocation of George Herbert (Columbia: Univ. of Missouri Press, 1984), p. 14.
46. OED, 2d edn., s.v. "corporation, n.," III.a.
47. See Hodgkins, Authority, Church, and Society, pp. 182–3 and 187–92.
48. See Herbert, "An Offering," in The English Poems of George Herbert, ed. Wilcox (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007), pp. 508–12, 511nn11–2.
49. Herbert, "The Country Parson," p. 242.
50. Herbert, "The Familie," in The English Poems, pp. 476–9, 478n5.
51. John Donne, "The Canonization," in The Complete English Poems, ed. A. J. Smith (London: Penguin, 1971), p. 47, line 32.
52. See Drury, Music at Midnight, p. 280.
53. The only person who has applied the title "laureate" to Herbert was the eighteenth-century critic John Nichol. He does so only in passing, identifying Herbert as a "purely religious poet" and "the laureate of the Church of England" (introduction to The Poetical Works of George Herbert [London: Bickers and Bush, 1863], pp. v–xxvi, esp. vi).
54. See Malcolmson, George Herbert, p. 21; and Alison Shell, "Seventeenth-Century Poetry 2: Herbert, Vaughan, Philips, Cowley, Crashaw, Marvell," in The Cambridge History of English Poetry, ed. Michael O'Neill (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010), pp. 211–30, 211.