George HerbertGeorge Herbert
- March 1
) was an English poet
. Despite living for only 40 years his stock as a poet has risen and risen. Remarkably, none of his work was published in his lifetime. The poems of his final years, written as a clergyman in Bemerton, Salisbury
, are like nothing else in literature
. They combine a profound spirituality with a restless experimentation. Their language remains fresh and inspiring today.
Herbert balanced a secular career with a life of theological contemplation. He was ordained deacon c.1624, and was installed as a canon of Lincoln Cathedral and prebendary of Leighton Bromswold, near T.S. Eliot's Little Gidding, in 1626. Herbert the poet is at all times in pursuit of what Jacques Derrida has called a 'transcendental signifier', God's summarising logos, the last syllable of recorded time, as the divine extension of the Book of Genesis (In the beginning, God said ...), suspiration that renders as revealed and knowable everything that has been uttered and written in between, life and the world as a sacred inscription:
- "Thy rope of sands,
- Which petty thoughts have made, and made to thee
- Good cable, to enforce and draw,
- And be thy law,
- While thou didst wink and would not see."
See also: The Book of Sand