How Shall We Read Herbert?: A Look at "Prayer" (I)

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

Fall 1977


The "Donne revival" came about at a time when the active, even shocking side of Donne's poems was emphasized. Herbert rode part way into popularity as a result of this revival, but his role has typically been that of Donne's foil: he is the calm after the storm, respected most for his piety, humility, and the quaint adventurousness of some of his verses. If there is to be a true "Herbert revival," however, we shall have to put aside for a morpent this notion of the quiet cleric at Bemerton and look instead to Herbert's complexity and restlessness. We would do well to describe Herbert's works as he describes God's: "Storms are the triumph of his art" ("The Bag").