Images and Image Symbolism in Metaphysical Poetry
With Special Reference to Otherworldliness
JULIUS DUANE LOCKE
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
I should like to express my gratitude to those who have
helped in the preparation of this dissertatio--Doctors R. N.
Bowers, F. W. Conner, J. T. Fain, C. A. Robertson, J. H. Groth,
T W. rbert, and Ants Oras.
To the present chairman of my acmittee, Dr. T. W. Herbert,
I al particularly indebted for his many hours of devoted attention
to this study.
To my former chairman, Dr. Ants Oras, I owe a great deal;
for this dissertation vas conceived with his guidance.
TABLE OF CONITEITS
ACKNOJLED(MENTS o * e
PREFACE . .
I. INTRODUCTION .
II. JOBN DO . .
III. GEORGE HERBERT .
IV. RICBARD CRASHAW
V. ANDREW MARVELL .
VI. CONCLUSION .
WORKS CITED . . .
In developing the method employed in this study of imagery,
I am indebted to many critical and scholarly works; but especially
a few, which I shall mention, have been prominently influential in
providing ideas and examples.
Two can be singled out for special consideration--William
Empson's Seven ype of Ambiguity (1947) and Cleanth Brooks' The
Well-Wrought Urn (1947). Empson's Seven Types was especially valuable
in emphasizing that the attention of the critic should be focused on
the details of the works themselves, that the meaning of a poem is
the suggestions derived from the arrangement of words in a structure.
The main concern of Eapson was to demonstrate a universal aspect of
poetic language--ambiguity; and of course, this specific intention
is not the aim of my study. But his assertion that poetic meaning
could be derived from an analysis of the arrangement of words in a
structure was adopted as a basic working principle.
Empson used many passages from Metaphysical poetry to
demonstrate his "seven types." Also with the intention of discovering
and formulating an essential quality of poetic language, Cleanth
Brooks in his Well-Wrought Urn uses Metaphysical poetry to demonstrate
his theory of "The Language of Paradox." Brooks proposes to prove
that paradox is an essential aspect of poetic language; but again,
though I repeat that my intention is not with discovering the essential
quality of poetic language, I owe much to Brooks. Brooks' insistence
that form and content are inseparable, that the interaction between
the content and its structure conveys poetic meaning, became an
essential general principle employed in my study.
Within my study, the basic principles of Mapson and Brooks
were adopted and brought to bear upon the meaning of an image. I
believe that in a poem primary consideration should be given to the
way in which the image is arranged within a structure--this arrangement
being called an organization.
Both Ikpson and Brooks have been criticized for their neglect
of historical information when exaining the arrangement of words
within a structure. Rosenund Tuve, in Elizabethan and Metaphysical
Imagery (1947) and A Reading of George HErbert (1952), has been
specifically critical of ABpeon, and of the whole critical movement
which stresses the examination of the details of a poem and neglects
historical considerations. Miss Tuve emphasizes that to understand
an image properly it must be considered from a historical point of
view, and she treats the imagery of the Metaphysicals in relationship
to the logical and rhetorical tradition of the time and especially the
imagery of George Herbert in relationship to the liturgical and
iconographic traditions. Ruth Wallerstein (Studies in Seventeenth
Century Poetic, 1950) also takes a historical position, and she
emphasizes that to understand the poems of the past, a knowledge of
the philosophies of the past, especially as to how they effect
language, is needed. Wallerstein examines Metaphysical poetry in
relationship to the Jermae- Tertullian- Augustine tradition of
The principle of the necessity of historical information for
the understanding of imagery was adopted for the purposes of my study.
Tuve and Wallerstein begin with a historical tradition, and then
interpret the imagery from the viewpoint of the tradition; but my
study differs in that I start with the analysis of the organization
in which an image appears; and then compare the analysis with an
organization which has been objectively described by previous writers
who have been concerned with the nature of meaning, or with sequences
of thought which have also been given objective description. When I
have found a described process of association which can reasonably
be supposed to have been accessible to the mind of the poet, and which
is parallel to that observed in the poem, I have described the image
in accordance with that process. I have assumed that such a guide
will lead to authentic meanings which might escape a modern reader
unfamiliar with earlier modes of thought, and I have assumed that
such a guide might forestall errors of meaning which the preconceptions
of a modern reader are liable to foist upon a poet to whcm they would
Not every such process of association is nowadays unfamiliar.
For example, Marvell's images of natural objects are similar to those
which invite our attention to such objects in nineteenth-century
poetry. But soae of the processes of association, though not now
unknown, are far less commonly known, as when Crashaw, speaking of the
taste of blood, does not mean what we taste when we lick a cut finger
but means the acceptance of the sacrificial redemptive love of God for
sinful man. By what virtue such a denial of plain camonsense talk
can be shown to be true of Crashaw it is the business of historically
verifiable modes of meaning to tell us. Thus my original agreement
with Itpson and Brooks for the examination of imagery has to be
Now, my contention can be stated thus: to determine the
meaning of an image in a poem primary consideration should be given
to the way in which the Image is arranged within a structure; but
the interpretation of the structure of an Imae should be in term of
Another work, Arthur 0. Lovejoy's The Gret Chin of Being
(1936), exercised its influence by providing a suggestion as to hew
the historical considerations might be limited. Lovejoy wrote a
history of the develeogmt of a single idea, "the chain of being";
and froa this hint, I decided to emphasize Imaes connected with a
single philosophical consideration, the relationship of the immterial
to the material, especially since this was one of the main topics of
interest in the seventeenth century, when the philosophy of empiricisa
was ganiing the new favor of many minds.
Of course, my study differs markedly from LCvejey's. He was
writing the history of an idea, and using poem as illustrations of
these ides. My emphasis is on the reading of poems; my ewphais is
on the idea too, but only as part of the experience of reading a
pom--the idea a discovered in the organization of imagry, and as
necessary to a meaningful response to poetic language.
Mrpurpose in this study can now be stated in its final form.
To determine the maning of an ime in the poms I shall examine, I
shall give primary consideration to the vay in which the imae is
orgami2ed in its structure; and then I shall interpret Image organisa-
tion according to the appropriate historically determined philosophical
relationship between the material and the material. Having treated
one or two poes frmO each poet in detail according to this method;
I shall briefly review a number of poems, so that this observable fact
my merge: that each poet has a characteristic mode of image
or~gisatiai, characteristic because it is recurrent throughout such
of his work. Through such an interpretation it is hoped that a
deeper insight into the poms of my four poets will be provided.
In pert, this study is concerned with a series of subtle
differences amongst four seventeenth-century poets, John Iomne,
George Nerbert, Richard Crashw, and Andrew Marvell, a the works of
these poets, the very way in which the images are selected and
organisd within the context of the pems, manifest certain modes of
thought. One of the prominent intellectual problem of the seven-
teenth century was to arrive at a rational understanding of thw rela-
tionship between concepts and concretions, between the spiritual and
As the patterns of image organization will disclose, the re-
spective work of each poet reveals a different attitude tevard the
relationship of the conceptual, or spiritual, and the material. John
Donne is more concerned with the conceptual; although he subordinates,
he neither debases nor dismiss the material. He considers the ma-
terial to be important in that it is necessary for the existence of
the conceptual. George Kerbert grants the material more importance
than Donne, but in Herbert the importance of the material is due to
its being a creation of God, and thereby a figuration or symbol of God.
Richard Crashaw represents an extreme in that he values the spiritual,
the otherworldly above all, and the material object to his has little
or no Importance. Andrew Marvell gives his attention to the material
object and although the thses of his pooms are often spiritual, the
thematic element, even in these poms, is subordianted to his passionate
concern with the material objects that make beautiful the natural
My major concern is not only to record these poets' attitudes
toward the relationship between the material and material, but to
show how their poems may be best read. Attention therefore is
directed to determining what responses in the aiagination of a syap-
thetic reader ought to be produced by each of the words vith which
they name the things they are interested in.
The study of what is stimulated in the mind of a reader by
substantives in the sentences of a poem is properly called a study of
the poet's laagery. Twentieth-century studies of imagery so far as
I know the have hitherto been primarily studies of the power of words
to stimulate the equivalent of sense experience in the imagination of
the reader, but my study is concerned fully as much with the stimula-
tion of peasionately felt spiritual conceptions. Consequently, the
word I needs to be defined afresh, and that definition must be
borne in mind whenever the word _as. is used.
The differences that I describe amoegst the poets arise not be-
cause the poets have each a characteristic favorite particular trope,
but because things which their imaginations conjure up bear different
relationships to plain ordinary material actuality. Each poet con-
ceives, or perceives, differently froc the others; and this distinct
attitude toward the material and the material works its way into the
very texture and' structure of the poet's language. This attitude is the
influencing factor that shape. the poet's organization of imagery; and
to discover the poet's attitude, we study the patterns of org2iae-
tion throughout his verk, as well as the qualification of these
patterns in the particular contest in which they apper. Onoe the
poet's attitude is tiacovered we, as readers, my adjust eur ametal-
ities, may subdue any interfering preconeptioas regarding the rela-
tionship of the material and material, to experience the poem as
the poet intended.
In this study an image is considered to be a poetic represetai-
tion of a thing either material or material, or such a thing in a
condition or in activity.
This study is based upon the proposition that an mage depends
for its meaning upon the organization of the poem itself and upon the
convention of concepts which the poet accepted for purposes of the
poem, and that the organization of images within a given pose (as well
as the prevailing practice within the whole body of a poetic work) is
a proper guide to the convention to which an imge refers and with
which its meaning must be consistent.
A major necessity dictated by the purposes of my study is to
determine whether or not as a general tendency an individual poet is
concerned with material or with material things, or with both ma-
terial and material things as they are related to one another. This
determination of the poet's prevailing concern is based primarily on
a study and analysis of the selection and organization of his imvary
in individual poems. Let us take three passages to illustrate how the
Imagery makes clear the focus of the poet's concern.
But most the wlL'se wonders are,
Who breI has the Holt- trs care.
He walks still upright frm the Root,
Mas 'ring the Timber with his Foot;
And all the way, to keep it clean,
Doth from the Bark the Wood-moths glean.
He, with his Beak, examines well
Which fit to stand and which to fell.l
In the passage from Marvell, the imagery is selected and
organized in a manner that presents the bird, the "Hewel," as a
particular and hence material thing. Marvell is concerned with this
creature for its own natural, terrestrial, and material sake. Be
selects the specific nrme "ewel" rather than the more general
tem "woodpecker," or still more general "bird." The "Hewel" is de-
picted in motion, the specific and particularized motion of talking
upright, and as moving upward frao a definite and tangible spatial
locality, the root of a tree. A number of specific details portray
the bird as being engaged in natural activities. When in a trope he
asserts that the bird, like a "bolt-fester," that is woodcutter, is
measuring the timber with his foot, he is not diverting our attention
to sBme other matter but laying stress on the precise and apparently
methodical placement of the hewel's feet as he advances up the trunk.
Also, he specifically notices the definite features of the bird: the
feet and the beak. Throughout the passage a sense of an event on a
tangible world is conveyed. The woodpecker is on the solid foundation
oh PO and Letters of Andrew Ibrvell, ed. H. M.
Margoliouth (Oxford, 1927), p. 75, 11. 537-44.
of a tree, and he gleens rothe from a solid and tangible surface,
the bark. The selection and organization displayed in this peasa&e
indicates that the poet's concern is with sa iuage of the bird as
a material thing. As we shall see later, this kind of selection and
orniLzation, and hence this kind of IS#a ry, is characteristic of
I Sing the Nie which None can say
But touch't with An interior Ray:
The MNme of our New Peace; our Good:
Our lisse: & Supernaturall Blood:
The Ame of All Liues & Loues.
Hearken, And Help, ye holy Doues!
The high-born Brood of Day: yon bright
Candidates of blissefull Light,
The Heirs Elect of Loue; whose toes belong
Unto the euerlasting life of Song;
All ye wise Soules, who in the wealthy Brest
Of This unbounded Nme build your vara Nest.2
In charp contrast with the "Newel" of Marvel, the "Doves"
of Crashb are not feathered creatures in flight in the supporting
atmosphere. They are not any material thing whatever. They are
souls of the saints. They are called "doves" because Crasbai wants to
impute to these souls, which he is invoking to his assistance, certain
attributes of the spirit which have an ewotion-producing or affec-
tive correspondence to the attributes of actual doves. Crashaw de-
scribes his "doves" in terms of intangibles, day, light, love, and
cong--not bark, root, timber, and moths, not feet or beak or any practi-
2The Popa of Richard CralhawM ed. L. C. Martin (Oxford, 1927),
p. 239, 11. 1-12.
cal activity. The "doves" arc the breed of day, candidates of light,
the elect of love, and their nwaee "belong/ Vnto the euerlasting life
of Song." The selection and organization in this passage indicates
that Crashaw is interested in his birds not for their own sekes but
for the purpose of representing imaa erial things, things not tangi-
ble and of this world. The passage illustrates Crashaw's charac-
teristic concern as a poet with things purely spiritual.
Looke down, thou spiest our Crosses in small thins;
Looke up, thou seest birds raised on crossed vings.-
Donne presents his birds as material things, indeed, but
with a relationship to immaterial concepts which are his main con-
cern. The words "Looke up" and "rais'd on crossed vings" convey the
suggestion of birds in the air just above the earth; but Donne, unlike
Mrvell, uses the tangible images as the symbol of the imanence of
the spirit of the Christian God. Donne selects the general image
"birds" and suggests rather then depicts spatial locality. The roly
physical detail of the bird that concerns Donne is the "crossed wings."
His interest in the "crossed wings" is for their symbolization of
something material, their divine signification, and not for the wings
theaelves. The iMportance of the image of the bird in the passage
from Donne is that it furnishes a structural analogy between the wings
and the cross, which in turn is the symbol of the divine. The bird is
a material thing which symbolizes an imatcrial thing. This concern
oh Cclete Poetry and Selected Prose, d. Charles M.
Coffin (New York, 1952), P. 233, 11. 21-22.
with images that evoke a material thing realized as a material thing
but which bears close relationship with a more important spiritual
concept is a characteristic of Donne as a poet in a large part of his
The first approach in the present study of certain seventeenth-
century poems, then, is through examining patterns of selection and
organization of imagery for the purpose of determining the extent to
which Images within those patterns represent material or material
things; and this intrinsic aproach, starting with the poem itself, is
the primary procedure. However, this study does not dismiss the im-
portance of historical information; for poems written in the seventeenth
century should be read in the light of knowledge of the existing
literary traditions and philosophical ideas relevant to the poet and
the poem. Although the primary evidence for the proper interpretation
of images cces frca the patterns of selection and organization
throughout the poems, reference to historical information is used for
the purpose of clarification of the modes of thought by virtue of which
images may be understood to have the meaning which they possess. Many
of these traditions and ideas are very such alive today, but sometimes
they are so far out of use among ordinary educated people that they
Let us take two simple illustrations of the uses of referring
images to specific modes of thought. In the passage frca Crashaw,
the term "doves" would be bewildering and misleading to anyone unfamiliar
with the tradition whose center is the Gospel narrative of the spirit of
God descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove. In the excerpt froa
Donne the crossed wings of the birds would be of no significance to
anyone unfamiliar with the cross as the central symbol of the
Christian religion. It is, of course, inconceivable that any con-
siderable number of readers of Domne and Crashaw would be unfamiliar
with the modes of thought that give meening to their im~es of doves
and crossed wings, but it is by no mmns inconceivable that a reader
of Crashew should be unfa iliar with the rose as a symbol of the
Christ, or at least that he should fail immediately to make the con-
nection when reading one of Crashav's poems such as "CO the wounds
of our Crucified Lord."
Now it should be clearly understood that the Gospel story of
the crucifixion is not to be regarded in any usual literary sense as
a "source" for the image in Dozre's poem. Furthermore, we cannot in
advance of seeing the poem have any assurance that in Crashaw the word
"dove" will serve as an image for saintly spirits: in another context
it might serve as an image of simple hope, or even, conceivably, as an
iNale for a bird as actual and material as Marvell's heel. We cannot,
that is, foist upon a poet a significance simply because it existed be-
fore him, or simply because we can be positive he knew it. Nor can we
deny a significance to a word--if that significance existed in a tradi-
tion alive in or before the poet's dar, and if the imae pattern of the
poes demands that significance--siply because we lack external evidence
that the poet had read a given book. In short, we are not in a search
for a history of the poet's reading, but we are in a search for the
context which gives the poet's images the significance that he himself
as a poet intended them to have.
This examination of the selection and organization of the
imagery in the poetry of John Donne will concentrate mainly on the
Song and Sonets, "The Anniversaries," and the Divine Poems
as representative of the best of his efforts. What is said about
them vill be found equally true of the other poes.
As a general tendency, Donne organizes his i agery into a
pattern in which an material thing is closely associated vith,
depends upon, and indeed takes its origin frame a material thing,
or a group of material things, or an experience occurring to
human beins, hose existence in this vorld implies having the
element of materiality; and an important property of this
orgaaisation of imagery is that not only does the imnateial thing
depend for its existence on the material, but the material thing
depends for its value on the material. This characteristic
pattern of laae organization does not appear everywhere. It is
not, for instance, apparent except jocularly in "The Flea."
3ut in the poetry of Donne it frequently acts as a foundation for
the structure of entire poems such as "The Good-Morrow" and
"The Eftasie," as well as individual passages such as line 11 of
"The Good-Morrow": "And makes one little rocae, an every where."
Using line 11 from "The Good-Morrow" as an illustration of
this characteristic pattern of image organization throughout the
poetry of John Donne, we observe that the "little rocae" is the ele-
ment of the pattern of organization which is called the material
thing: the little rocm being in a specific and fixed spatial local-
ity, having actual concrete existence; and we observe that the
"little romae" has been made "an every where." This "every where"
is the material thing which has originated from the material
thing, "the little roae." The "every where" is, in this poema not
the quantitative sum total of the physical universe-not physical
space, but something conceptual, intellectible, and abstract.
Thus we have observed that in the organization of the imagry
in line 11 from "The Good-Morrow" an material thing, "an every
where," has originated from a material thing, the "little roome;"
and now we not only accordingly observe that in this characteristic
pattern of image organization in Donne the material "every where"
depens for its existence upon the "little rocae," but we observe that
the "little rcoce" (the word "little" suggesting not only a circtm-
scribed and limited segment of actual physical space, but also the in-
significance of the spatial area) depends for its value upon being
The COalete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Docine ed.
Charles M Coffin ( ew York, 192), p. U, 1. 11. Subsequent cita-
tions to Donne in my text refer to this edition.
made "an every where."
Before examining how the structure of an entire poem, "The
Good-Morrow," is organized according to the pattern of an immaterial
thing originating from a material thing, let us familiarize ourselves
with some philosophical conceptions, those of Aristotle and Thamas
Aquinas, a knowledge of which will aid greatly in our understanding of
the mode of thought behind such an organization of imagery as found in
this characteristic pattern of John Donne. The mode of thought, the
conception of an immaterial thing originating from a material thing,
behind the characteristic image pattern of Donne corresponds closely to
Aristotle's conception of form and matter, and Aquinas' doctrine of the
use of material things to express material things in Holy Scripture.
In Aristotle's conception of form, "the object of sense ex-
perience can come to the knowledge of the thinking subject only in so far
as it becomes a conceptual form."2
Implied in this explanation is that the human conception of
form depends for its existence on the prior existence of material ob-
jects, but the matter in the object of sense perception "attains to
reality only in so far as it becomes the vehicle of some conceptual
In applying this conception of Aristotle to Donne, the implica-
tion that the thought of Donne and Aristotle are identical, that Donne
2Werner Wilhelm Jaeger, Aristotle: Fundapentals of his
development, trans. Richard Robinson (Oxford, 1934), p. 382.
3Jaeger, p. 382.
comeciwsy derived his thought from Aristetle, is sot intended. The
Sol iabe-tiae is to show a similarity between the thought of
Aristotle atn that which form the intellectual dispositien behind
the orgmanimatio of Imaaery of Deane. Through the establisla mt of
this s ilarity, the thought behind the inge org aiiation in Doae
will be relate to an established tradition of thought; ead through
this relationship, it is hope that the intellectual attitude of
Deause revoale through his imagery vill be better uaterstood.
In Deane's asertion that love "awke eme little roomp, an
every where," the object of sense perception in this oese, the "little
rome," only attains to reality, its aiglifioence to the poet, by be-
caaing vwht is intended by the coeeptual determinateei conveyed in
the phrase "an every where"; but the conceptual "every where" does
not apper in the poe a s mething produced by its ow~ power without
a ownal relationship to a material object. The I oeceptual "every
where" is dependent f its existence oc as object of snse perception,
the "little room."
In a way Done here as elsewhere is doing vhat many poet fre-
quetly do, describing a metal concept which has been suggested by a
material object. But Domae, though of course he frequently ueee simile,
metaphor, and other rhetorical figures, in this particular Irge, which
is characteristic of his poetic thought, does not make a simile or
metaphor between the object and the concept, either explicitly or by
iMplication, which is the ooMmoeet mode of coection. aI Dome's
poetic image the concept is not said to be like the object, as in
siile, nor asserted in varying degrees to be the object, as in meta-
phor ("0 wild West Wina...the trumpet of a prophecy"), the concept
caem into being as a consequenee of the existence of the material ob-
Ject or material situation in a feahion parallel to the emergeee of
the apprehension of a ooneptual form in the sequence of Aristotle.
In Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" the concept that "Beauty is truth,
truth beauty" cease into being as a message aprprorate to the nature
of the urn, but "Beauty is truth" cannot be said to be a ceaeeptual
determination arrived at becae. the urn as its "vehicle." Dowee's
pattern, to use a different terminology, resembles the emergnee of a
perception of a universal after a contemplation of a partictnlar.
Others have perhpe paralleled his pattern of poetic thought occaseia-
ally, but with his it is frequent to the point of being charaeteristic.
Now, let us examine Thear Aquinas' doctrine of the uee of a
material thing to express an itaterial thing in Holy Scripture; sad
thea -note the points of correspaO ence between this doctrine and the
mode of thought behind the organization of the characteristic image
pattern of John Daose; but before beginning this exminatioa, it needs
to be stated that in this doctrine of Aquibas there re two aspects
that do not correspond to the maaner in which image are organized in
this characteristic pattern of Doae. Therefore, in order that we way
avoid the confusion of seeming to iaply that Doane's pattern of orga i-
zation correeponds exactly to Aquinas' doctrine of the use of aM iam-
terial thing to express a material thing, we will subseiquetly eawine
how the use of Imagery in the poetry of Doear differs frem certain
parts of AquiMas' doctrine.
First of all, exmining the part of Aquinas' doctrine that
doe correspond to the mede of thought behind the image organisatieo
of Joh Deane, we will observe that Aquinas states that it is proper
for Boly Scripture to use material things to express spiritual truths
because ma naturally attained intellectual truths through sensible
..It is befitting Holy Scripture to put forward
divine and spiritual truths by means of comparisons with
material things. For God provides for everything'
according to the capacity of its nature. Now it is
natural to man to attain to intellectual truths
through sensible tin, because all our knowledge orlg-
inates from semae.
We readily obeerve in this statement a corrosea6ence to
Aristotle's. ocception that the apprehension of a form is attained
frm an experience of material objects; but of course, there is a
difference. In Aristotle, as we know from Jaeger's explanation, the
form apprehended was a conceptual form of the object experienced; but
in this doctrine of Aquines, the form apprehended is an Intellectual
truth vhich indeed is a spiritual truth. For exiple, the bird iawe
of Done, the bird with crossed wings which was discussed in the
"Introduction" to this study, is used in a manner that corresponds to
the above-quoted part of Aquinas' doctrine. The conceptual form of
the bird that is apprehended by the reader is an intellectual truth,
4ryitrzoductJon S int Tkams Aouiaas ed. Anton C. Pegis
(New Yorkl 194b), p. A( 1, Qa, Arp. 2). Subsequent
citations to Aquinas in my text refer to this edition. (Sa Theologi-
a, I, Ql, Art. 9, Ans.).
he t$rmth of thA ow"P San Chr sti rligiam ; m i Mks conebp
tal f~o of *~ biri, th~ Cw ritim trtV~ Wf, Is Lt we ce auepbel
fa, in the senm ae ArUrtetle, of %he uibrMt bIrd.
Nenvwv, "w also Owee 1a Oi ws'e M @ u"~ enrspt ftrea th
doctrine of Auiines a Csrwvesre.ee Ur 'Me aramreristiie p*leWa of
ig ergmiuastie-, iw Nat usbes "me little re% an eMI y iwjiMv"
in thot own eprimQin of a c4iesph.a. t a swaerStal *AI, "m evay
vwMM," is atainl set rwh a ~ Iertle elmersee Oewnra Iw I a
AmOther prt or Av~Yat 4oelria that srrei M, 1 H"r
Made of thtit4 boeiat the image wrmitioo o Se* I's t hat nl *T
ikBIeal "e"t s .asi l niaery, -aIns of Sterial Hi~fs, the
pwrpwm l to l~ad ithe inA I o n a es I .fIs f a tafligibleq fi-
at not to isoitc the mA tU be onmtmtt with tIw atwial Vta o006
jwel p in tne Mi ti by tw ISW ry.
The r[Y o"f iautv L rnlatlre is "t e*aptI"k.it* by
esRdible im WsOry wlbwwrth it iM OVwed, a Diesirausw
gswp; MA its trti So for iiae ut Vat it do"swt 3alLM
thae ie Os h e e*a to 1Mea * eveIY e.l bn t m ad*e,
to rest In t*e liM ..as but almtms ftr 4o Mw a sewle
of ItaRghibr* ta'ttwh.
To Dam's A wlacteriewte pet'be m et S pu rwgpin.aS, *A
s.ibleln t-mp, W"e*w itie remw," sA peeeseMkd in sredr twat Ahe
itelUJgible fe.m, "as vwiy where," wor e areMM msi s te s.ei-j
b3 im p is "et prusatmm i SA e %ar tt hfw *it a r % ue "SOr "am
lAquinap. 1 '7 ( 1X, 41, Art. 9, SpM. 2)
rest in the likeness of the little room; this purpose is revealed by
Donne's lack of interest in the specific sensuous details of his ma-
terial things. He is not concerned with presenting the color of
walls, the shape and material of chairs, and the number of windows
of a little room.
Now let us glance at the parts of Thomas Aquinas' doctrine of
the use of a material thing to express an immaterial thing that do
not correspond, or at least correspond only in a partial way, to the
manner in which Donne uses imagery. Aquinas, in discussing how a ma-
terial thing signified by a word has a signification in itself, eluci-
dates a fourfold theory of meaning.
..The author of Holy Scripture is God, in Whose power
it is to signify His meaning, not by words only (as man also
can do), but also by things themselves. So, whereas in
every other science things are signified by the words,
this science has the property that the things signified by
words have themselves also a signification. Therefore that
first signification whereby words signify things belongs to
the first sense, the historical or literal. That significa-
tion whereby things signified by words have themselves also
a signification is called the spiritual sense, which is
based on the literal, and presupposes it. Now this spiritual
sense has a threefold division. For as the Apostle says
(Heb. x. I) the Old Law is the figure of the New Law, and
Dionysius says the New Law itself is a figure of future
glory. Again, in the New Law, whatever our Head has done is
a type of what we ought to do. Therefore, so far as the
things of the Old Law signify the things of the New Law,
there is the allegorical sense; so far as the things which
signify Christ, are signs of what we ought to do, there is
the moral sense. But so far as they signify what relates to
eternal glory, there is the anagogical sense. Since the
literal sense is that which the author intends, and since
the author of Holy Scripture is God, Who by one act compre-
hends all things by His intellect, it is not unfitting, as
Augustine says, if, even according to the literal sense, one
vord in Holy Scripture should have several senses.6
Dante, according to the statements in his letter to Can
Grande, adapts this theory of fourfold meaning of the words in Holy
Scripture to literary usage in the Divine Comedy.
For the clarity of what is to be said, one must realize
that the meaning of this work [nhe Divine Comdy is not
simple, but is rather to be called polysemous, that is,
many meanings. The first meaning is the one obtained
through the letter; the second is the one obtained through
the things signified by the letter. The first is called
literal, the second allegorical or moral or anagogical. In
order that this manner of treatment may appear more clearly
it may be applied to the following verses: 'When Israel
vent out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of
strange language, Judah was his sanctuary and Israel his
dominion." For if we look to the letter alone, the de-
parture of the children of Israel from Egypt in the time
of Moses is indicated to us; if to the allegory, our re-
demption accomplished by Christ is indicated to us; if to
the moral sense, t# conversion of the soul frao the woe
and misery of sin to a state of grace is indicated to us;
if to the anagogical sense, the departure of the consecrated
soul from the slavery of this corruption to the -liberty
of eternal glory is indicated. And though these mystic
senses may be called by various names, they can all gen-
erally be spoken of as allegorical, since they are diverse
from the literal or historical. For allegory is derived
from alleon in Greek, which in Latin appears as alienum,
or diverse. /
The way Donne used imagery corresponds partially to the
scheme outlined in the quoted excerpt from Aquinas in that the material
thing signified by an image has in turn an intellectual or spiritual signi-
fication; but we have no evidence that Donne organized his imagery in such
6Aquinas, pp. 18-19 (ST, I, Ql, Art. 10, Ans.).
7Dante, "The Letter to Can Grande della Scale" in Literary
Criticism: Plato to Dryden, ed. Allan H. Gilbert ( New York,
1940), pp. 202-03.
a manner that his words have a fourfold meaning. But the use of
imagery in such manner that the thing signified has in turn a further
significatton, which is synonymous with saying that the material
thing signified has the signification of an immaterial thing, is a
definite characteristic of Donne's imagery. For example, referring
back to the discussion of the bird image in the "Introduction," the
thing signified by the image of a bird is a bird, and this signified
bird has a signification, the Christian truth connected with the
cross. And in line 11 from "The Good-Morrow," the thing signified by
the image of the little room is a little room, and this little room has
the signification of "an every where."
The other part of the doctrine of Aquinas which does not
correspond to the manner in which Donne uses imagery is the assertion
that often in Scripture a word which in ordinary contexts represents
a material thing does not represent the material thing at all but
literally represents a spiritual concept.8
The parabolical sense is contained in the literal,
for by words things are signified properly and figuratively.
Nor is the figure itself, but that which is figured, the
literal sense. When Scripture speaks of God's arm, the
literal sense is not that God has such a member, but only
what is signified by this member, namely, operative power.
Hence it is plain that nothing false can ever underlie the
literal sense of Holy Scripture.
This part of Aquinas' doctrine does correspond to Crashaw's
characteristic use of imagery as already has been indicated in
the "Introduction" by the discussion of the imagery of "doves."
Aquinas, p. 19 (ST, I, Ql, Art. 10, Rep. 3).
Thus says Aqiaas. But it is clear throughout Daome's
poetry that, though the poet's imagery is parallel with the phileas-
pher's up to the point where we can say that the usual signification
of a verd is not its only meaning, we cannot fasten upon the poet
this letter practice of thought in which he did not follow the philoso-
Since we have now failiarised ourselves with ase of the
philosophical conceptions corresponding to the mode of thought behind
the characteristic pattern of the orgsaisation of imagry in the
poetry of Deane, we can now turn to an exaination of hew the struc-
ture of an entire poea, "The Good-Morrow," is based on this pattern
of organization in which an material thing originates froa a material
thing, and in which the pattern of organisatioa correspomas to
Aristotle's doctrine of the apprehension of a conceptual foray through
a sensible experience beginning with latter, and to Aquinas' doctrine
that material, or sensible, imagery may be the means of raising the
mind to intelligible, or spiritual, truths.
I wonder my my troth, what thou, and I
Did, till we lov'd? Were we not vean'd till then?
But suck'd on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the seven sleepers den?
T'vas so; But this, all pleasures fancies bee.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desir'd, and got, t'vas but a dreaa of thee.
And now good morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fare;
For love, all love of other sights controules, 10
And makes one little roaee, an every where.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let Maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possesse one world, each hath one, and is one.
My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plane hearts doe in the faces rest,
Where can we finde two better hemispheares
Without sharpe North, without declining West?
What ever dyes, was not mixt equally;
If our loves be one, or, thou and I 20
Love so alike, that none doe slacken, none can die.
First, let us observe and note the characteristics of the
material things of "The Good-Morrow," from which through a sensible
experience a conceptual form is to originate. The material things
in "The Good-Morrow" are the bodies of the lovers who are in this
little roan, and from the implications of the poemn as in lines 6 and
7: "If ever any beauty I did sees Which I desired, and got, t'was
but a dreie of thee," we conclude that the lovers btve been engaged
in a corporeal activity. As a result of the sensible experience of
these two bodies in the little room, a conception of love, the
conceptual form of love, has originated. This conceptual form of love
is presented throughout the poem; but at present, we are limiting our
concern to the material things described.
In our examination of the material things in "The Good-Morrow,"
the bodies of the two lovers in the little rocm, we might ask ourselves
what we know about the physical being and characteristics of these two
lovers, their personal appearance--the color of their eyes or the shade
of their complexion; and we might ask ourselves what the organization of
imagery indicates about the importance that Donne attaches to the material
aspects of the love affair? We answer that we know almost nothing about
the physical characteristics of the two lovers. The lovers are presented
by only two images of physical appearance, "eye" and "face," and these
images are extremely general, giving no definite indication of the speci-
fic or particular sensuous characteristics of the "eye" or of the "face."
Thus we conclude from our examination of the imagery presenting
the material things in "The Good-Morrow" that Donne attaches very little
importance to the material elements of the situation, except in so far
that it is the origin for the experience of the conceptual form of love;
and we conclude that Donne is not interested in organizing his imagery
in a manner that will cause the reader's mind to be attracted to and
to rest in the physical, or material, details of the love affair in this
little room. There is definitely not the lingering on the sensuousness
of physical features that we have in Spenser's Amoretti XV, an organiza-
tion of imagery which causes the mind of the reader to be attracted to
the physical beauty of the beloved. Donne's focus of attention may be
emphasized by contrasting Spenser's practice:
Ye tradefull merchants, that with weary toyle
Do seeke most previous things to make your gain,
And both the Indias of their treasures spoiled,
What needeth you to seeke so farre in vaine?
For loe! my love doth in her selfe contain
All this worlds riches that may farre be found:
If saphyres, loel her eies be saphyres plane;
If rubies, loel her lips be rubies sound;
If pearles, hir teeth be pearles both pure and round;
If yvorie, her forehead yvory weene;
If gold, her locks are finest gold on ground;
If silver, her faire hands are silver sheene;
But that which fairest is but few beholdA
Her mind, adornd with vertues manifold.1
Now let us examine the immaterial thing in "The Good-Morrow,"
or what would be called in the terms of Aristotle, the conceptual
form of love. We find evidence of Donne's interest in depicting love
in a manner that corresponds to the nature of a conceptual form in the
organization of his imagery in the first stanza. The many loves of the
past are contrasted with the present love; and this contrast is based
on whether the many loves of the past, or the one love of the present,
may have attained the status of a reality. Of course, as we know from
our discussion of Aristotle, the status of reality is attained only
when the material thing "becomes the vehicle of some conceptual determi-
nation"; and thus if the material thing does not become the vehicle
of some conceptual determination, if the form of the material thing is
not apprehended then the material does not attain reality. In other
words, if love as expressed through an experience of bodies, the matter
of love, does not become the vehicle of some conceptual determination,
the form of love, then the experience of love lacks reality.
The present love, the love depicted in "The Good-Morrow," has
attained the status of a reality, and this is indicated by its being
10The Complete Poetical Works of Spenser, ed. R. E. Neil
Dodge (Boston, 1936), p. 720. Subsequent citations to Spenser in
my text refer to this edition.
opposite in nature to the many loves of the past. The absence of
reality in the past loves is indicated first in the opening line by
the lack of certainty as to just what happened before this present
love ("I wonder by my troth, what thou, and I/ Did, till we lov'd?").
The unreality of the past loves is further emphasized by metaphorical
equation with the vague receptivity of a baby ("were we not wean'd
till then?/ But suck'd on country pleasures, childishly?"), with an
outrageous superstition ("Or snorted in the seven sleepers den?"),
and with the insubstantial quality of fancies and dreams ("all
pleasures fancies bee" and "t'was but a dream of thee").
Now that we have observed how the organization of imagery in
the first stanza of "The Good-Morrow" reveals an intellectual concern
with whether or not the loves of the past or the present have attained
the status of reality, rather than a concern with comparing the loves
and the present love on the basis of quantitative measurements (whether
or not the present beloved has more beautiful hair, or a more virtuous
mind than the past loves) now that we have observed all this we can
proceed with an examination of the second stanza.
In stanza two, Donne is primarily concerned with the presenta-
tion of the love as something intellectible, abstract, or immaterial;
and his emphasis on the intellectual qualities of love is in accord with
a mode of thought that corresponds to the conceptions of Aristotle and
Aquinas in which they hold that the form, the intellectible, is much more
important than the material from which the form originates.
The intellectual aspects of the love are first emphasized in
the opening line. The main image responsible for this emphasis is
the word "soules." If Donne had used the image "bodies," or some other
image of a material thing, the effect on us, as readers, would have
been entirely different; but the image "soules" centers our attention on
As to just how we should experience this image "soules," we
can be certain that Donne intended for us to experience it not as a
vague word denoting a process of our nervous system, but as referring
to something existing as a metaphysical reality; for in the time of
Donne, and in the poetry of Donne, "soul" had a definite meaning, and
referred to an actuality, a metaphysical entity.
In order that we might adjust our perception to experience the
image "soules" from the viewpoint of Donne, and from the viewpoint of
a reader of his time, we might review briefly a history of the concep-
tion of man having three souls, or three powers of one soul.
The development of this conception has a long history in
western thought. As Zeller points out, the germ of the conception is
found in Plato's Timaeus.
In the Timaeus (696f) only the reasonable part of the soul,
which is localized in the head, is held to be immortal, while
courage and the sensual desires, which reside respectively
in the chest and the belly, are reckoned to the unreasonable
and transient parts of the soul.... Plato never discusses
how the three parts of the fgul are to be reconciled with the
unity of the consciousness.
Aristotle, as explained by W. Windelband, also asserts that
Eduard Zeller, Outlines of the History of Greek Philosophy,
rev. Wilhelm Nestle, trans. L. R. Palmer (New York, 1931), p. 135.
man has three souls.
The series of grades of living creatures is determined
by differences of soul, which as the entelechy of the body in
all things is the Form that moves, changes, and fashions
matter. Souls also have a relative ranking. The lower can
exist without the higher, but higher only in connection with
the lower. The lowest kind is the vegetative...which is
limited in its functions to assimilation and propagation,
and belongs to plants. The animal possesses in addition to
this a sensitive soul...which at the same time is appetitive...
and has also to some degree the power of locomotion....Man
possesses, besides both these other souls, reason....12
Throughout medieval philosophy there are many different devel-
opments of theory concerning the nature of these three souls. Albert
the Great holds that the human soul is one single and incorporeal sub-
stance with three powers,13 but Roger Bacon considers that, as explained
by Gilson, "The intellective soul alone is immediately created by
God; the vegetative and the sensitive souls are just like the other forms
which efficient causes draw out of the potency of matter."14
Following the conceptions of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas also
formulates a theory of three souls.
We must therefore conclude that the sensitive soul, the
intellectual soul and the nutritive soul are in man numeri-
cally one and the same soul. This can easily be explained,
if we consider the differences of species and forms. For we
observe that the species and forms of things differ from one
another as the perfect and the less perfect; just as in the
order of things, the animate are more perfect than the inani-
mate, animals more perfect than plants, and man more perfect
12W. Windelband, History of Ancient Philosophy, trans. Herbert
Ernest Cushman (New York, 1956), p. 274.
13tienne Gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle
Ages (New York, 1955), p. 284.
14 son 13
Gilson, p. 13.
than brute animals. Furthermore, in each of these genera
there are various degrees. For this reason Aristotle com-
pares the species of things to numbers, which differ in
species by the addition or subtraction of unity. He also
compares the various souls to the species of figures, one of
which contains another, as a pentagon contains and exceeds a
tetragon. Thus the intellectual soul contains virtually
whatever belongs to the sensitive soul of brute animals, and
to the nutritive soul of plants. Therefore, just as a surface
which is of a pentagonal shape is not tetragonal by one shape,,
and pentagonal by another--since a tetragonal shape would be
superfluous, as being contained in the pentagonal--so neither
is Socrates a man by one soul, and animal by another, but
by one and the same soul he is both animal and man.l5
And in England during the Renaissance, Edward Grimeston, in
his translation (1621) of Nicolas Coeffecteau's A Table of Humane
But we must remember that the soul, being the form of
living things, and natural forms having this in particular,
that the more noble contains the perfection of that which is
less noble; as a quadrangle comprehends with a certain emi-
nency all that enters into the composition of a triangle; and
as the forms of beasts contain the forms of the Elements; it
follows that there being three degrees of souls; that is to
say; that which gives life, which is the less perfect; that
which gives sense, which is the second rank; and the Reasonable,
which is the noblest of all; this Reasonable soul, which is
peculiar only to man, contains all the powers and perfections
of the other, and can effect as much as all the rest together.
By reason whereof man hath a Vegetative soul, which is common
with plants; he hath the Sensitive, which he hath in common with
brute beasts; but he alone is in possession of the Reasonable
soul, where he hath nothing common with the rest of the
Throughout the poetry of Donne, we have evidence of his famil-
iarity with the conception of the three souls. The concept of three
15Aquinas, pp. 305-06 (ST, I, Q. 76, Art. 3, Ans.).
16Edward Grimeston, "Of Human Passions" in Tudor Poetry and
Prose ed. J. William Hebel, et al. (New York, 1953), -P. 1117.
souls is expressed in "The Second Anniversary."
Thinks further on thy selfe, my Soule, and think
How thou at first wast made but in a sinke;
Think that it argued some infirmitie,
That those two souls, which then thou foundst in me,
Thou fedst upon, and drewst into thee, both
My second soule of sense, and first of growth.
(p. 203, 11. 157-162)
The same conception is found in "To The Countesse of Bedford," "Honour
is so sublime perfection."
But as our Soules of growth and Soules of sense
Have birthright of our reasons Soule, yet hence
They fly not from that, nor seeke presidency.
(p. 156, 11. 34-36)
And again in "To The Countesse of Salisbury."
How faire a proof of this, in our soule groves?
Wee first have soules of growth, and sense, and those,
When our last soule, our soule immortall came,
Were swallowed into it, and have no name.
(p. 167, 11. 50-53)
Now that we have reviewed the conception of three souls, we
can continue our examination of the second stanza of "The Good-Morrow,"
and note additional evidence that Donne in "The Good-Morrow" conceives
of love as a conceptual form, an immaterial thing that originates from
an experience of a material thing.
The opening line of the second stanza: "And now good morrow
to our waking soules," suggests beyond the literal significance of the
line (the fact that the two lovers are awakening) that the souls of the
lovers are awakening to a discovery, or a knowledge, of a love that has
attained the status of a reality (as we know from the first stanza).
Since we know from our examination of the philosophy of Aristotle
that the reality of anything is grasped only through the apprehension
of a conceptual form, and since this present love of the lovers in
the little room has attained the status of a reality, we can conclude
that the "waking soules" are the intellective souls, since the concep-
tual form can only be apprehended by the intellective function of the
soul, as the sensitive and vegetative parts of the soul have functions
in common with the animals and plants.
In the second stanza of "The Good-Morrow," lines 9 and 10,
the intellectual quality of the love is again stressed, as the love
relationship is described as being free from fear (fear being a func-
tion of the sensitive soul) free from the torments of jealousy. This
freedom from tormenting emotions may be achieved through the operation
of the intellective soul. This liberating function of the intellective
soul, though by no means exclusively understandable in Platonic terms
is one of the values of Platonic love as everyone knew who had seen it
described by Peter Bembo (in Sir Thomas Hoby's translation of
Castiglione's Courtier, 1561).
To avoid, therefore, the torment of this absence,
and to enjoy beauty without passion, the Courtier, by
the help of reason, must full and wholly call back again
the coveting of the body to beauty alone, and (in what he
can) behold it in itself simple and pure, and frame it
within his imagination sundered from all matter, and so make
it friendly and loving to his soul, and there enjoy it, and
have it with him day and night, in every time and place, with-
out mistrust ever to lose it, keeping always fast in mind
that the body is a most diverse thing from beauty, and not
only not increaseth, but diminisheth the perfection of it.
In this wise shall our not young Courtier be out of all
bitterness and wretchedness that young men feel (in a manner)
continually, as jealousies, suspicions, disdains, angers,
desperation, and certain rages full of madness; whereby many
times they be led into so great error that some do not only
beat the women whom they love but rid themselves out of their
In Platonic love, when the imagination is sundered from the
material ("the coveting of the body") by the help of the reason (which
is a function of the intellective soul), and when the lover centers his
thoughts on an intellectible (or as Castiglione describes it--"the beauty
that is seen with the eyes of the mind"),8 the torments, such as
jealousy, which are due to the lover coveting the materiality of his
beloved, are eliminated. The love relationship in "The Good-Morrow"
has reached an intellectual level, similar to that reached in Platonic
love, in which the torments of the human passions, passions being func-
tions of the sensitive soul, are eliminated. Of course, John Donne's
conception of love in "The Good-Morrow" is not wholly Platonic, for the
love is not actually sundered from all matter; love is sundered from
matter only in so far as the imagination is centered on the form rather
than the matter of love. In Platonic love, as with Plato's Ideas,
the intellectible (the beauty of the mind) is a self-subsisting reality;
but in the love imaged by Donne, as with Aristotle's form and matter,
the intellectible (the form of love) is dependent for its existence on
the subordinate material element. However, we must not lose sight of the
1Hebel, op. cit., p. 705.
18Quoted from Hebel, p. 706.
fact that the material element is very much subordinate to the intel-
In lines 12 through 14, the intellectual quality of the love is
again stressed as the lovers declare the superiority of their intel-
lectually abstract, intelligible world ("an every where" and "Let us
possess one world, each hath one, and is one.") over the material
world ("Let sea-discoverers to new world have gone"), and copies of the
material world ("Let Maps to other, worlds on worlds have showne).
In lines 15 through 18, the emphasis again falls on the Intel-
lectual quality of the love. In these lines, the lovers are watching
one another; and the reflection of the face of each lover appears in
the eye of the other. We, as readers, experience this looking at one
another as suggesting the closeness and unity of the lovers. In line
16, the reflections of faces are experienced as symbols of the love
("true plaine hearts"), and then in line 17, we experience the words
of the poet, "Where can we find two better hemispheres," as suggesting
that they, the lovers, are through their love now in possession of the
best of all worlds, an intelligible world much superior to the material
"new worlds" of the "sea-discoverers" of line 12. Line 18 completes
the description of the hemispheres. These half spheres are without the
determinations or the differentiations of spatial boundaries ("Without
sharpe North, without declining West"). Since hemispheres without
spatial boundaries do not correspond to terrestrial hemispheres, or the
representation of actual hemispheres on maps such as those in line 13,
they cannot be perceived empirically; and therefore since hemispheres
without spatial boundaries can only be apprehended by a mental opera-
tion, they are conceptual in nature. Thus from material things, the
reflections in the eyes, immaterial things, conceptual hemispheres,
have originated. Since hemispheres are halves of spheres, we, as read-
ers, experience the unity of the lovers, their oneness, as forming a
complete and perfect sphere, perfect in the sense that it is free from
the determinations and limitations of the material.
In the concluding lines of "The Good-Morrow," lines 19 through
21, the intellectual quality of the love is again emphasized. In these
lines, the love is depicted as immortal, inmortal because the two
"loves be one." The doctrine which is the basis of this logic may be
called the doctrine of the simple substance. According to this doctrine,
that which is composed of diverse and disparate elements is mortal, that
which is all of one substance immortal. The proposition is at its
clearest in Aquinas' description of the oneness of substance, the sim-
plicity of God.
The absolute simplicity of God may be shown in many ways....
For there is neither composition of quantitative parts in God,
since He is not a body; nor composition of form and matter;
nor does His nature differ from His suppositum; nor His essence
from His being; neither is there in Him composition of genus
and difference, nor of subject and accident. Therefore, it is
clear that God is no way composite, but is altogether simple.19
Now therefore when Donne finds a logical causal relationship between
the oneness that characterizes the love he speaks of and the deathlessness
of it, he is referring to the conspicuous property of a particular kind of
Aquinas, p. 32 (ST, I, Q.3, Art. 7, Ans.).
oneness. This is not any longer a oneness of two material halves
joined, but a oneness of two intelligibles which because they are in-
telligibles are not quantitatively measurable. The two intelligibles,
equal in quality and mixed ("mixt equally") have become essentially of
one intelligible substance when they are mixed. And they are one sub-
stance without disparate elements. Hence in this respect they are
exempt from that which befalls the material, the disparate, the un-
equally mixed, namely death.
Though these loves are like the divine in this respect, the
love relationship in "The Good-Morrow" retains its connection with
form and matter, namely the two lovers, and is not absolutely perfect
as God is absolutely perfect; but the love in "The Good-Morrow"
approaches a likeness to the divine.
In summary, we can state that in the organization of imagery in
"The Good-Morrow" what started out as a bodily experience in the specific
spatial locality of the little room becomes similar in nature to the
divine; and therefore from a material thing has originated an immaterial
thing. This immaterial thing metaphysically corresponds to Aristotle's
and Aquinas' conception of a form; and this inaterial thing is appre-
hended from the material by the abstractive function of the intellectual
soul of a human being in a similar manner to that described by Aquinas.
Now there are three grades of the cognitive powers. For
one cognitive power, namely, the sense, is the act of a cor-
poreal organ. And therefore, the object of every sensitive
power is a form as existing in corporeal matter; and since such
matter is the principle of individuation, therefore every power
of the sensitive part can have knowledge only of particulars.
There is another grade of cognitive power which is neither the
act of a corporeal organ, nor in any way connected with
corporeal matter. Such is the anelic intellect the object
of whose cognitive power is therefore orm existing
apart from matter; for though angels know material things,
yet they do not know them save in something immaterial,
namely, either in themselves or in God. But the human in-
tellect holds a middle place; for it is not the act of an
organ, and yet it is a power of the soul, which is the form
of the body. .. And therefore it is proper to it to know
a form existing individually in corporeal matter, but not
as existing in this individual matter. But to know what is
in individual matter, yet not as existing in such matter,
is to abstract the form from individual matter which is
represented by the phantasms. Therefore we must needs say
that our intellect understands material things by abstract-
ing from phantasms; and that through material things thus
considered we acquire some knowledge of immaterial things,
just as, on the contrary, angels know material things through
But Plato, considering only the iJimteriality of the
human intellect, and not that it is saoehow united to the
body, held that the objects of the intellect are separate
Ideas, and that we understand, not by abstraction, but
rather by participating in abstractions, as we stated above.20
Just as in "The Good-Morrow," in "The Extasie" an immaterial
thing originates from a material thing.
Where, like a pillow on a bed,
A Pregnant bank swel'd up, to rest
The violets reclining head,
Sat we two, one another best.
Our hands were firmly cimented
With a fast balme, which thence did spring,
Our eye-beames twisted, and did thred
Our eyes, upon one double string;
So to 'entergraft our hands, as yet
Was all the means to make us one, 10
And pictures in our eyes to get
Was all our propagation.
As twixtt two equally Armies, Fate
Suspends uncertain victories
Our soules, (which to advance their state,
Were gone out,) hung twixtt her, and mee.
And whil'st our soules negotiate there,
20Aquinas, pp. 401-02 (ST, Q. 85, Art. 1, Ans.).
Wee like sepulchrall statues lay;
All day, the same our postures were,
And wee said nothing, all the day. 20
If any, so by love refin'd,
That he soules language understood,
And by good love were grown all mind,
Within convenient distance stood,
He (though he knew not which soul spake,
Because both meant, both spake the same)
Might thence a new concoction take,
And part farre purer than he came.
This Extasie doth unperplex
(We said) and tell us what we love, 30
Wee see by this, it was not sexe,
Wee see, we saw not what did move:
But as all several soules contain
Mixture of things, they know not what,
Love, these mixt souls, doth mixe again,
And makes both one, each this and that.
A single violet transplant,
The strength, the colour, and the size,
(All which before was poor, and scant,)
Redoubles still, and multiplies. 40
When love, with one another so
Interinanimates two soules,
That abler soule, which thence doth flow,
Defects of loneliness controules.
Wee then, who are this new soule, know,
Of what we are composed, and made,
For, th'Atomies of which we grow,
Are soules, whom no change can invade.
But 0 alas, so long, so farre
Our bodies why doe wee forbeare? 50
They are ours, though they are not wee, Wee are
The intelligence, they the spheares.
We owe them thanks, because they thus,
Did us, to us, at first convay,
Yeelded their forces, sense, to us,
Nor are drosse to us, but allay.
On man heavens influence workers not so,
But that it first imprints the ayre,
Soe soule into the soule may flow,
Though it to body first repair. 60
As our blood labours to beget
Spirits, as like soules as it can,
Because such fingers need to knit
That subtile knot, which makes us man:
So must pure lovers soules descend
T'affections, and to faculties,
Which sense may reach and apprehend,
Else a great Prince in prison lies.
To'our bodies turned wee then, that so
Weake men on love revealed may look; 70
Loves mysteries in soules doe grow,
But yet the body is his booke.
And if some lover, such as wee,
Have heard this dialogue of one,
Let him still market us, he shall see
Small change, When we'are to bodies gone.
In "The Extasie" as in "The Good-Morrow," the material things
are the bodies of the lovers ("Wee like sepulchrall statues lay"),
and while the two bodies remain in this mobile position, from their
materiality and the sensible experience of holding hands ("Our hands
were firmly ciaented") originates an activity of imaterial things,
the negotiation of the souls ("And whil'st our soules negotiate there").
Through this negotiation of souls, the form of love is apprehended.
This apprehension of love takes place during the ecstasy
("Tlis Extasie doth unperplex/ (We said) and tell us what we love");
and this ecstasy in the poem "The Extasie" is somewhat similar to the
ecstasy in the philosophy of Plotinus, as has been indicated by
H. J. C. Grierson in his "Comentary" on Donne's poems.
In a letter to Sir Thomas Lucy, Donne writes: "Sir I make
account that this writing of letters, when it is with any
seriousness, is kind of extasie, and a departing, and seces-
sion and suspension which doth then communicate itself to two
bodies." Ecstasy in Neo-Platonic philosophy was the state
of mind in which the soul, escaping from the body, attained
to the vision of God, the One, the Absolute. Plotinus thus
describes it: "Even the word vision does not seen appro-
priate here. It is rather an ecstasy, a siaplicatilm, an
abandonment of self, a perfect quietude, a desire of contact, in
short, a wish to merge oneself in that which one contemplates
in the Sanctuary," Sixth Ennead, IX, II (from the French
traBlation of SoiUnet, 1857-8).' heMers will observe
he closely DOne's* Po avree with this--the eWods ao the
eoul (fl* 15-16), tVe prfect quiet (11. 18-90), sid tas
ma inasight (11. 9-33), the cetact *na uciem of the souls
(1. 35)0 Dome had probably reed Ficio's trwmlation of
Platimis (149e), but the dectrine of eestsy psmse into
Charisti thou kt, consectlg itself es* cially with the
eperiosac of St. Pau (2 Cow. XII. 2) .l
Nuwer, the ecstasy in "The Ixtasle" is differat from the
*estscy in Plotinus; tfr In th pees of Deane, the soul dos not
e*rpe iro- a ceamsned booy (see 11. 50-76). Throue~ out the phi-
loespay of Plotimusu, te body is codremned.
The soul falleU into this state of impuity, seized
with am irresistible inclitatie towards the thisbl of
*ms, absorbed by her Iatoreeurse withk the body, suk
l1ae matter, ad having evem received it within herself,
ha chIaged fom by her adixtire with an inferior alture.
Not otherlie would be a a fallen into slkWy aud, who
so logi r woul present to view his primitive besuy, and
would exhibit only the fearnce ef the mdi that had de-
filed him; his ugliess would be derived from sometlh
foreigu; and to recover his pristine beeuty be would lave
to esh off his defilemeut, mao by purifioati be rstored
to what aone Vo s22
P~osibly, as riTuon May, Deome did derive his comeeption of
an *cstasy fras Ficino's trealation of Plotiaus. *fwever, if he
Adi, Deomme hs trasfoeaed aeM altered Plotianue comeeption of a
*castsy; therefore, the oly a nmeing that we am assipn to tMe word
"lcxtM*," as it appears in the title of the pom mad withi the
comext of the pom, is the amesing that Dome asigps the vord through
arra amect in a structure.
21rbert J. C. Oriersee, "latroductim eand Comenotry" in
S PM of Jobs Do Vol. n (Oxford, 1912), p. 42.
S. plotinus, Wo, d. Kinethd Sylviaa uthrie (Loonen, 1918),
An ecstasy in the poae "The Extasie" is a state of being
which has originated froc the sensible experience of two lovers
whose physical behavior is that they hold hands, remain completely
motionless in a definite position in space (11. 1-4); and while in
this state of being, called an "Extasie" within the poem, the lovers
gain a knowledge of love through the negotiation of their souls. Thus
an ecstasy in the poes "The Extasie" is a state of being in which the
point of origin, the material beginning (the bodies of the lovers) is
depicted as being inactive; and that which is derived frso the bodies,
the material parts of the lovers, their souls, depicted as being
active. Thus the structure of "The Extasie" follows the characteristic
pattern of the image organization in the poetry of John Donne. Ima-
terial things, the souls, have originated frcm material things, the
bodies of the lovers, and although the material things are necessary,
they are subordinated to the immaterial, as the imaaterial is active
and the material inactive.
"A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" is also organized according
to this characteristic pattern in the poetry of John Donne.
As virtuous men passe mildly away,
And whisper to their soules, to goe,
Whilst same of their sad friends doe say,
The breath goes now, and same say, no:
So let us melt, and make no noise,
No teare-floods, nor sign-tempests move,
T'were prophanation of our joyes
To tell the layetie our love.
eMving .o th'lerti briao hames sad feeee,
Men reckem vtat it 4i4 a sd met, 10
aut trpiAatioa of the spheres,
Thigh greatr Tfrre, is inoent.
Doll subluoery levers lcve
(WWhoe soue is se ) oeamot Atit
Abosee, beemme it deot rmewe
!thee th~lg which elemunted it.
But we by a lowe, se meh refia'd,
That our n*lv kneaw not what it it is,
Iaer-seureAd of the isad,
CaMe 3,m8e, e"e, lips, t4 hanid to mis e. 20
Our two' seules thm erf which are me,
Though I et soe, feature not yet
A brmeah, but an exp Nioa,
Like gold to awey thi mees beate.
If tbey be twe, hoy are -*o s
As stiffer .i e~ci ame are two,
Ptr soule the fixt foot, aske aes so e
9 move, but doth, if tbe'eter ae.,
Aan though it in the center sit,
Yet wh4m the other far deth rme, 30
It eiaes, aMi hearkem after it,
Aaa grew e"ret, th bt eomes te e.
Such wilt thou be to me, who must
Like fa'ether feet, obliqely rume;
Thy fires drmes my circle just,
d makes m em, were i bIegune.
The first steams of "A Valediction: Forblidisg Motrning" is
orwimedw according to the characteristic imago pattler of DBOmM
Iw0a rial things, immertal souls, re deprtUng frem miteral tiaie,
The souls nemur existed without the bo4lie, saA the bodies
have detendcd for their value on the souls TIese thiap we co3
ssem.y w.Msua, w as l Mitally do, frm Me Lu ewrmr St mr fLwms.
A3la, as 3ripias.ioi of irmrry ia 1I 17 r oiWgo 36 fUsWs
tWSa abicber -wic ~eWsp. L i 2e *MbeIma the fawt IMt no-
tarwl *~ihgs, beLiy pgwt, wn a vit.1 e6mnt ia tlis i r, esp
call aI it Lir biN-tge altiuhi SU hay e s0etAw.a. b. t-M Lmuri
(11. 17-?9). 7i rt lw, a" rk1 e re V'kh, t., ap Imta"'
av o M-e wbm mb, am s-umairl obn" Ia6vfs qpbrml
fores ~sypwm by ti *mes o watim eww t1 elrej, S pre-.
nme %at mti t1w lWe m* aeieu e r usirei^be tlas we is
eraet sattal loslatsl,
te leva, a ti tI oft ntm ouli eri t lSve, tcs maie
beSMS ayqs*- by maw phewlemay 4IemseifbI6 bLe *s*a of the Niojes
as bemis pwis a a eaposes pvaimse a pirittMl .iW perseew g ts
DBaen, as to o 8tne o themM, a sol orf is a eir ae.
aI oes e -t emaenta ft4iaseks ot set, ts a
Slar, m a S jA wai* lM"a ; w. bM le w, h1 w w
to iMw eA: at wst ealy t thoir a a, te heair 4,
bwt to Ues I, ma Na a mA iU, O*t he oswa 3r am
*Sm, jwt as ws l" fI "1 *Go* Wo'rmW oeIMseed a U IHsi 6
tib dlaiew, uwtbl riy >,prwme aey sw t, Ve M 0rtwoI A h IA
sB "A TaiticO a: -.rUI-M. Mt.urat.. is p.rl.a.. .y b' rth r
e haviag a like~ss to tbe divine in that it is expmresel by the
fipire of a circle, which is a symbol of God.
"T e Anmiverwrie" follows laehat the pattern of "The Gooa-
Mwrrw." The materiality of the love is s~Seated by oeh lines as
"Im thPu sed I first one motmer smn" ae "Nmut leaw at lst in
death, taeM e ey, and *earM;" s n te If~ atriality of the love is
summeted primrily by line 7 through 10 which endow te low vith the
uEality of wrtaUlity, *gain, a caracteristie of a shlple fbltence.
All Kigs, and all iteir favorites,
All glory of honors, bmeutis, vits,
the Sun it selfe, which asee time., as they pee.,
Is eldr by a yesre, new, than it wis
WhVe thou aEM I first one snot&her sw:
All other thina, to their testructime draw,
aOly our lov hath no 4eey;
This, so to arrow hath, aer yeeterdjy,
BRuiing it never runs from us away,
But truly keepes his first, last, everlating day. 10
Two ravem =at hide thine de me eoare,
If one right, death were no divorce.
AlM, a well as their Prinee, we,
(Who Prince enough in one weather bee,)
"u', leave at last in fetth, these ees, and eare,
Oft fed with true oathes, ad with sweet salt twees;
But soules where nothing dwells but love
(All other thoughts being inmates) then shall prove
This, or a love increased there above,
Wheh bR4ies to their graves, souls fr their grave
And thb wee shall be thoroughly blest,
But vo no m*e, then all the reEt;
Bre upon erthL we're Kings, and non but wee
Ca be such King, aw of such subjects bee.
Who is so fee am wee? where aone cm do
Treas to us, except ene of us two.
True and false fears let us refrain,
Let us love nobly, end live, and ade againe
Year*e md year unto years, till we attains
To write threeecoe: this is the *cond of our raigae. 30
In "The Canonization" the materiality of the love affair is
suggested by images of a bodily condition ("my palsie, or my gout,/
My five gray haires") which create in the mind of the reader a
suggestion of the tangible presence of a human being. The imateri-
ality of the love, which has originated fro- the sensible experience
of the bodies, is suggested by lines 25 through 27, ani by lines
44 and 45.
For Godsake hold your tongue, and let me love,
Or chide my palsie, or my gout,
My five gray haires, or ruin'd fortune flout,
With wealth your state, your ninde and Arts improve,
Take you a course, get you a place,
Observe his honour, or his grace,
Or the Kings really, or his stamped face
Contemplate, what you will, approve,
So you will let me love.
Alas, alas, who's injured by my love? 10
What merchants ships have my sighs drown'd?
Who sales my tears have overflowed his ground?
When did my colds a forward spring remove?
When did the heats which my veines fill
Adde one more to the plague Bill?
Soldiers find warres, and Lawyers find out still
Litigious men, which quarrels move,
Though she and I do love.
Call us what you will, wee are made such by love;
Call her one, mee another flye, 20
We'are Tapers too, and at our owne cost die,
And wee in us find the'Eagle and the Dove.
The Phoenix ridle hath more wit
By us, we two being one, are it.
,So to one neutral thing both sexes fit,
Wee dye and rise the same, and prove
Mtystricuc by this love.
Wee can dye by it, if not live by love,
And if unfit for tombes and hearse
Our legend bee, it will be fit for verse; 30
And if no peece of Chronicle wee prove,
We'll build in sonets pretty romes;
As well a well wrought urne becomes
The greatest ashes, as half-acre tcbes,
And by these hyoncs, all shall approve
Us Canowiz'd for Love:
And thus invoke us; You whom reverend love
Made one another hermitage;
You, to vwha love vws peace, that now is rage;
Who did the whole worlds sooule contract, and drove 40
Into the glasses of your eyes
(So made such mirrors, and such spies,
That they did all to you epitcmize,)
Countries, Townes, Courts: Beg from above
A pattern of your love?
In "The Sunne Rising," the "All here in one bed" is a
variation on the "one little room an every where" of "The Good-
Morrow." Also as in "The Good-Morrow," a sense of experience
which has its place or origin in a room is described in terse of
an intellectible, a mathematical figure ("This bed thy center is,
these wvlls, thy apbeere").
Busie old foole, unruly Sunne,
Why dost thou thus,
Through window, and through curtainee call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers seasons run?
Samcy pedantique wretch, goe chide
Latc school boyes and sore prentices
Goe tell Court-huntmen, that the King will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clyme,
Nor hours, dayes, momeths, which are the rags of time. 10
Thy bees, so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a winke,
But that I would not lose her sight so long:
If her eyes have not blinded thin,
Looke, and to morrow late, tell mee,
Whether both the'India's of spice and Wyne
Be where thou leftist them, or lie here with mee.
Aske for those Kings whcm thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt here, All here in one bed lay. 20
She'is all States, and 11 Princes, I,
Nothing else is.
Princes doe but play us; ccmpar'd to this,
All honor's aimique; all wealth alchimie.
Thou sunne art half as happy'as wee,
In that the world's contracted thus;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties bee
To wars the world, that's done in warming uC.
Shine here to us, and thou are every where;
This bed thy center is, these walls, thy sphere. 30
In the first stanza of "Loves Growth," the pattern appears,
although somewhat varied, as a discovery made by the poet that love
does not have a pure and abstract existence apart from a sensible
experience of the material, just as in the philosophy of Aristotle
a pure form does not subsist apart from matter.
I scarce believe my love to be so pure
As I had thought it was,
Because it doth endure
Vicissitude, and season, as the grass;
Me thinks I lyed all winter, when I swore,
My love was infinite, if spring -lake'it more.
But if this medicine, love, which cures all sorrow
With more, not only bee no quintessence,
But mixt of all stuffes, paining soule, or sense,
And of the Sunne his working vigour borrow,
Love's not so pure, and abstract, as they use
To say, which have no Mistresse but their Muase,
But as all else, being elmented too,
Love sometimes would contemplate, sometimes do.
(p. 27, 11. 1-14)
Although in "Negative Love" the pattern does not appear in
its purity, the love presented in the poem is similar to the love
in "The Good-Morrow." In both poem the love is endowed through
figuration with a likeness to the divine. In "The Good-Morrow,"
it was a simple substance, and in "Negative Love" the love has a
likeness to the divine in that it can only be expressed by
I never stoop'd so low, as they
Which on an eye, cheeke, lip, can prey,
Seldome to th.e, which soare no higher
Than vertue or the minde to'admire
For sense, and understanding may
Know, what gives fuell to their fire;
Iy love, though silly, is more brave,
For may I misse, when ere I crave,
If I know yet, what I vould have.
If that be simply perfectest 10
Which can by no way be express
But N eatives, my love is so.
To All, which all love, I say no.
If any who deciphers best,
What we know not, our selves, can know,
Let him teach mee that nothing; This
As yet my ease, and comfort is,
Though I speed not, I cannot missed.
Another variation on the basic and characteristic pattern
of image organization in the poetry of Donne is found in "A Feaver."
In this poen a woman, though she has a body subject to decay, essenti-
ally is that with which the body is joined, an immaterial thing ("the
worlds soule") which gives meaning and value not only to her own body
but to this material world; and when this material world loses this
immaterial thing, all is valueless ("The whole world vapors with thy
Oh doe not die, for I shall hate
All women so, when thou art gone,
That thee I shall not celebrate,
When I remember, thou wast one.
But yet thou canst not die, I know,
To leave this world behind, is death,
But when thou from this world wilt goe,
The whole world vapors with thy breath,
Or if, when thou, the worlds soule, goest,
It stay, tis but thy carkasse then, 10
The fairest wvamn, but thy ghost,
But corrupt wormes, the worthyest men.
0 wrangling schools, that search what fire
Shall burne this world, had none the wit
Unto this knowledge to aspire,
That this her feaver might be it?
And yet she cannot wast by this,
Nor long beare this torturing wrong,
For such corruption needfull is
To full such a feavor long. 20
These burning fits but meteors bee,
Whose matter in thee is soone spent.
Thy beauty, 'and all parts, which are thee,
Are unchangeable firmament.
Yet t'vas of my minde, seising thee,
Through it in thee cannot persever.
For I had rather owner bee
Of thee one hour, than all else ever.
Although in a number of poems the pattern of an material
thing originating from a material thing, with the Ismaterial dependent
for its existence on the material, and the material for its value on
the material, does not appear in its exact form, in such poems as
"A Valediction: Of The Booke" and "Loves Alchymie" there is a sugges-
tion that the mode of thought behind this characteristic pattern of
image organization forms the conceptual outlook from which the poems
vere written. For example, in these poems Donne ridicules a purely
spiritual love, a love which in the Platonic manner has a self-
subsistence apart from matter.
In the first of these poems beauty (and here the meaning
is clearly physical beauty) is in a joking understatement advanced
as a convenient prefiguration of spiritual love.
Ebre Loves Divines (since all Divinity
Is love or wonder may finde all they seeke,
Whether abstract spiritual love they like,
Their Soules exhaled with what they do not see,
Or, loth so to amuze
Faiths infirmite, they chuse
Something which they may see and use;
For, though minde be the heaven, where love doth sit,
Beauty a convenient type may be to figure it.
("A Valediction: Of The Booke" p. 25, 11. 28-36)
In the second poem Donne boldly derides '"retches" who hold
that marriage is only of the mind.
That loving wretch that swearee
'Tis not the bodies marry, but the mindes,
Which he in her Angelique finds,
Would sveare as justly, that he heares,
In that days rude hoarce minstralsey, the spheares.
Hope not for mind in women; at their best
Sweetnesse and wit, they're but gn, possest.
("Loves Alchymie" p. 31, 11. 1824)
In "An Anatcaie Of The World: The First Anniversary and The
Second Anniversary," the characteristic pattern of image organization
is developed in a somewhat different manner; but the basic mode of
thought behind the image organization is the same as in the character-
istic pattern. The "she" or "shee" of "An Aratanie of the World" is
described in terms that would make of her an iamaterial but effective
force which gives meaning and value to the material, and without this
preservative force the material loses all value.
Imagery depicting the "she" as such an material thing,
a unifying and preserving force, that which gives value to the
material, is widespread throughout the "The First Anniversary"
for example, the poet addressing the world asserts that
Her name defined thee, gave thee forme and frame
(p. 187, 1. 37).
In comenting upon -he moral influence of his "shee" he
The Cyment which did faithfully ea wpct,
And glue all vertues, now resolved and slack'd
(p. 187, 1. 49).
As he addresses her, describing her power to preserve the
world, he spealm of
Thy' instrinsique balme, and thy preservative
(p. 187, 1. 57).
She is a sort of world soul:
Though shee which did inanimate and fill
The vorld . .
(p. 188, 11. 68-69).
And here she is the macrocosm:
She that had all Magaetique force alone,
To draw, and fsten sundred s in one;
She vhca vise na tnu-harenvend then
When she observed that every sort of men
Did in their voyage in this worlds Sea stray,
And needed a new compasse for their way;
She that was best, and first original
Of all fair copies, and the general
Steward to Fate; she whose rich eyes, and breast
Guilt the West Indies, and perfum'd the East;
Who having breath'd in this world, did bestow
Spice on those Iles, and bad them still smell so,
And that rich Indie which doth gold interre,
Is but as single money, coyn'd from her:
She to whom this world must it selfe refer,
As Suburbs, or the Microcosme of her.
(p. 191, 11. 221-235).
When the influence and control of the immaterial "shoe" has
been severed from this world, all meaning, significance and value
are lost. Natural order is disturbed and the world proceeds toward
dissolution: "This World in that great earthquake languished" (p. 186,
1. 11). Man has lost all significance and identity: "That thou
has lost thy sense and memory." (p. 187, 1. 28) and "Thou hast
forgot thy name, thou hadst; thou wast/ Nothing but shee, and her
thou hast o'rpast" (p. 187, 11. 31-32). Confusion prevails, there
is no coamunication, there is a return to the Tower of Babel: . .
poore mothers cry,/ That children come not right or orderly" (p. 188,
11. 95-6). Man separated from the control and influence of the giver
of meaning and dignity, is seen as contemptible in his purely material
state: his life is a mere insignificant speck in time, "Alas, we
scarce live long enough to try/ Whether a true made clock run right,
or lie" (p. 189, 11. 129-30); he is neaGre -in apparent control: "A
wager, that an Elephant, or Whale,/ That met him, would not hastily
assailed/ A thing so equally to him" (p. 189, 11. 139-41). Without a
relationship to an inmaterial thing, man is absolutely nothing: "Oh
what a trifle, and poor thing he is!/ If man were any thing, he's
nothing now" (p. 190, 11. 170-71) and "Quite out of joynt, almost
created lame" (p. 191, 1. 192).
Since the control and influence of the iraterial has been
separated from this world, the values of harmony, order, propriety,
syaetry, have been marred and lost. The circular shape in its self-
contained purity has been disturbed and rendered out of proportion by
eccentric parts and angular shapes.
We think the heavens enjoy their Sphericall,
Their round proportion embracing all.
But yet their various and perplexed course,
Observed in divers ages, doth enforce
Men to find out so many Eccentrique parts,
Such divers downe-right lines, such overthwarts,
As disproportion that pure forme. ..
(p. 192, 11. 251-57)
Are these but warts, and pock-holes in the face
Of th'earth? Thinke so: but yet confesse, in this
The worlds proportion disfigured is;
(p. 193, 11. 300-02)
That beauties best, proportion, is dead.
(p. 193, 1. 306)
And had the world his just proportion,
Were it a ring still. .
(p. 194, 1. 342)
The some type of organization prevails in "The Second
Anniversary." The "shee" is again an immaterial thing which gives
value to the material ("Because shee was the forme; that made it live"--
p. 201, 1. 72). Without this preserving force of the material, all
is meaningless, frantic, and grotesque like the gestures of a
beheaded man (a very interesting image in that the immaterial control
has been severed frac the material, and the zmterial has been rendered
Or as sometimes in a beheaded men,
Though at those Red seas, which freely ranne,
One frac the Trunke, another from the Head,
His soule be sail'd, to her eternall bed,
His eyes will twinkle, and his tongue will roll,
He grapes his hands, and he pulls up his feet,
And seems to reach, and to step forth to meet
His soule; when all these motions which we saw,
Are but as Ice, which crackles at a thaw:
Or as a Lute, which in moist weather, rings
Her knell along, by cracking of her strings:
So struggles this dead world, now shee is gone.
(p. 199-200, 11. 9-21)
In the Divine Poems the same type of image organization which
presented a love relationship between human beings in the Songs and
Somets is now used to express a relationship to God. The subject
has changed, but the form of expression often remains the same. For
example, in the poem "Upon the Annuntiation And Passion" the depiction
of man's relationship to God is expressed through similar patterns as
man's relationship to wvman was expressed in "A Valdiction: Forbidding
Mourning" and other poems through the Soags and Sonets.
Tamely, fragile body, abstain to day; to day
My soule eates twice, Christ hither and away.
She sees him man, so like God made in this,
That of than both a circle embleme is,
Whose first and last concurre; this doubtful day
Of feast or feat, Christ ceae, and went away,
Shee sees him nothing twice at once, who'ic all;
Shee sees a Cedar plant it self, and fall,
Her Maker put to making, and the head
Of life, at once, not yet alive, yet dead.
She sees at once the virgin mother stay
Reclus'd at home, Publique at Golgotha;
Sad and rejoyc'd sheet's seen at once, and seen
At alsoet fiftie, and at scarce fifteen.
At once a Sonne is promis'd her, and gone,
Gabriell gives Christ to her, He her to John;
Not fully a mother, Shee's in Orbitie,
At once receiver and the legacie.
All this, and all betwcene, this day hath shown,
Th'Abridgement of Christs story, which makes one
(As in plane Maps, the furthest West is East)
Of the'Angels Ave', and Consummatum est.
How well the Church, Gods Court of faculties
Deales, in same times, and seldoae joyning these!
As by the selfe-fix'd Pole wee never doe
Direct our course, but the next starred thereto,
Which shoes where the'other is, and which we say
(Because it strayes not farre) doth never stray;
So God by his Church, nearest to him, wee know
And stand fire, if wee by her motion goe;
His Spirit, as his fiery Pillar doth
Leade, and his Church, as cloud; to one end both.
This Church, by letting these dales joyne, bath shown
Death and conception in mankinde is one;
Or'twas in him the same humility,
That he would be a man, and leave to be:
Or, as creation he hath made, as God,
With the last judgment, but nne period,
His imitating Spouse would joyne in one
Manhoods extremes: He shall come, he is gone:
Or as though one blood drop, which thence did fall,
Accepted, would have served, he yet shed all;
So though the lease of his paines, deeds or words,
Would busie a life, she all this day affords;
This treasure then, in grosse, my Soule uplay,
And in my life retail it every day.
The imae pattern of lines 29 and 30, "So God by his Church, neerest
to him, wee know/ And stand fire, if wee by her motion goe," is very
similar to that expressing the quality of the loved one in "The Sunne
Rising"--"All here in one bed lay" (1. 20) and "She'is all States, and
all Princes" (1. 21). Donne's attraction to the selection of images
of enclosed places, the "one little roome" of "The Good-Morrow," is
demonstrated again in the phrase "Reclus'd at home" (1. 12) of "Upon
the Annuntiation and Passion."
Very similar to the pattern of "For love, all love of other
sights controules" (1. 10) of "The Good-Morrow" is the control of
the roving eye through dedication to God in the poem, "The Crosse."
Here spiritual dedication is signified by the subjection of the eye
to the influence of the cross--"crcssing."
But most the eye needs crossing, that can rome,
And move; To the'other th'objects must come home.
(p. 235, 11. 49-50)
In the sonnet "The Annunciation" there are image patterns
very similar to the "one little rooe, an every where" of "The
Good-Morrow." Notice lines 13 through 14.
Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is All every where,
Which cannot sinne, and yet all sinnes must beare,
Which cannot die, yet cannot chuse but die,
Loe, faithful Virgin, yeelds himself to lye
In prison, in thy wcabe; and though he there
Can take no sinne, nor thou give, yet he will weave
Taken from thence, flesh, which deaths force may trie*
Ere by the spheares time was created, thou
Wast in his minde, who is thy Sonne, and Brother;
Whom thou conceiv'st, conceived; yea thou art now
Thy !fakers maker, and thy Fathers mother;
Thou'hast light in darke; and shutst in little room,
Imlensity cloystered in thy deare wombe.
This general tendency to use the same forms of organization
to express the divine that were used in the So and Sonets occurs
throughout the Divine Poems, and as we have seen from our examination
of Donne's poems, the basic and characteristic pattern of image
organization is that in which an immaterial thing originates from
a material thing, with the immaterial thing being dependent for its
existence on the material and with the material thing being dependent
for its value on the material. This pattern of organization
indicates a mode of thought similar to some of the conceptions of
Aristotle and Aquinas.
In the English poetry of George Herbert, the dasinent mode
of image orangization is built upon a described bodily state or ordinary
physical action which is imAediately endnwed with a spiritual meaning.
For example, in the opening line of "The Collar" ("I struck the board,
and cry'd, No More.") a physical action is presented as an event in
this world. On one level of meaning, a revolt froa the restrictions
of a life dedicated to religion is suggested; but, at the same time,
this physical action is part of a context that expresses the spiritual
truth of the eternal presence of the forgiving love of God.
Let us examine "The Ccllar, and note how Berbert suggests
the eternal presence of the love of God, although the surface meaning
of the lines expresses a revolt against God.
I struck the board, and cry'd, No more.
I will abroad.
What? shall I ever sigh and pine?
My lies and life are free; free as the rode,
Loose as the wine, as large as store.
Shall I be still in suit?
Have I no harvest but a thorn
To let me bloud, and not restore
What I have lost with cordiall fruit?
Sure there was wine
Before my sighs did drie it: there was corn
Before my tears did drown it.
Is the year only lost to me?
Nave I no beyos to crown it?
No flowers, no garlands gay? all blasted?
Not so, my heart; but there is fruit,
And thou hast hands.
Recover all thy sigh-blown age
On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute 20
Of what is fit, and not. Forsake thy cage,
Thy rope of sands,
Which pettie thoughts have made, and made to thee
Good cable, to enforce and draw,
And be thy law,
While thou didst wink and wouldst not see.
Away; take heed:
I will abroad.
Call in thy deaths head there: tie up thy fears.
He that forbears 30
To suit and serve his need,
Deserves his load.
But as I rav'd and grew more fierce and wilde
At every word,
Me thought I heard one calling, Child
And I reply'd, y Lord.1
The main indication of the eternal presence of the love of
God is in the last two lines of the poem. The poet thinks that he
hears someone calling, "Child "; and he recognizes this voice to be
that of God. The intimacy of the relationship is suggested by employ-
ment of the traditional symbols of the Christian conception of a
relationship between man and God, that of a child and a father* Inti-
macy is also suggested by presenting this relationship in the form
of a comunication, that in which a father because of his love is
always willing to forgive his rebellious child, and that in which
a rebellious child finds composure through a reconciliation with
1The Works of George ierbert, ed. F. E. Hutchinson (Oxford, 1941l
PP. 153-I. Subsequent citations to Herbert in my text refer to this
The last two lines also suggest the inward presence of God,
the inSwelling spirit of God in every men. The indwelling spirit
of God is suggested by presenting God as a thought, an inward
experience of a sound whose source is not at first recognized, rather
than as something seen or tangibly present. The spirit of God has
been in the poet all along, but has been subdued by rebellious
thoughts. In spite of the raving, the growing fierce and wild--a
state of emotional turmoil in which the poet actually loses control
of his thought processes which have been directed toward a revolt
against God--the spirit of God gains control and brings composure.
The answer "My Lord" suggests a rededication and closeness
to God. The restlessness, the rebellion, has actually had the
result of bringing the poet closer to God, and thus the restlessness
has a spiritual meaning.2
2The theme of restlessness as a spiritual force that brings
man closer to God is also found in "The Pulley." The deed imaged in
this poem is of course supposed to have been done by God, but the
characteristic pattern of physical action and spiritual meaning is
clear. At the moment, however, our main interest in "The Pulley"
is its camentary on the spiritual significance of "The Collar,"
When God at first made man,
Having a glasse of blessings standing by;
Let us (said be) poure on him all we can:
Let the worlds riches, which dispersed lie,
Contract into a span.
So strength first made a way;
Then beautie flow'd, then wisdom, honour, pleasure:
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that alone of all his treasure
Rest in the bottcae lay. 10
The eternal presence of the love of God is suggested not only
in the last two lines, but by various devices throughout the poem.
If herbert had not planted the suggestion of the eternal presence
of the love of God earlier in the poem, the concluding lines would
come as a complete surprise, a sudden reversal without preparation;
and there would have the unpleasant feeling of being tricked. But
this unpleasant feeling does not occur since the conclusion is organic,
prepared for in the body in the work.
One of the devices of preparation is in line 4. While on
the surface, the phrase "free as the rode" means that the poet is
free to discard the restrictions of the religious life, it also
suggests a second meaning. In "free as the rode" there is a pun.
Its first meaning is of course what we now spell "road." Its second
meaning, probably best taken to depend on delayed recognition, is
what we spell "rood," signifying cross The sound of rode may be
homonymic with rood in certain eastern and Midiand dialects.3
For if I should (said he)
Bestow this Jewell also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts in stead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature:
So both should losers be.
Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlesnessee
Let him be rich and wearie, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet wearinesse
Mcy tosse him to my breast. 20
3See Helge KMkerita, Shakesar~ .'s Pronunciation (New Haven,
1953), p. 231. That Herbert vew familiar with such forms is indicated,
for example, by the fact that he spent same time, in his early life, in
That the conclusion of the poem describes the speaker '"ree as the rood"
io clear enough, but this pun comes at a time in the poem when neither
that kind of freedom, nor indeed the fact of the pun itself is yet
An examination of some of the imagery in the poem, that of
lines 7 through 12, will reveal why the conclusion seems appropriate,
as a necessary completion of the experience of the poem rather than
an adventitious addition. In lines 7 through 12, five images are
juxtaposed, "harvest," "thorn," "bloud," "fruit," and "wine." On the
surface level, these images express a rebellion from the prohibitions
of the religious life; but through juxtaposition, since all these
Images are associated with the life of Christ and his concern for
man's salvation, another meaning, in ironic contrast to the surface
statement, is suggested.
Lines 7 through 11 have imagery similar to a passage in the
Mew Testament. (John 12:24-25.)
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat
fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it
die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that
hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
The passage from John is concerned with the same theme, whether
to seek or renounce the worldly. Considering that a knowledge of the
Bible and liturgy was a coamonplace of George Herbert's existence,4 it
4see Rosemund Tuve, A Reading of George Herbert (Chicago, 1952).
would be very difficult to believe that he did not associate similar
Biblical metaphors with this particular group of images in his poem.
In the Biblical passage, salvation is expressed through
the metaphor fruit, which is a harvest. Also in the Christian
tradition, the word wine is often associated with the blood that
Christ shed on the cross for the salvation of mankind. The words
"thorn" and "blood" are also often associated with the redemptive
suffering of Christ through which man was saved. Since all five words,
"fruit," "harvest," "wine," "thorn," and "bloud," are associated in
the Christian tradition with salvation through Christ; the juxtaposi-
tion of these words evokes the traditional Christian association and
adds another dimension of meaning.
While the surface level presents explicitly a rebellion
against God, the juxtaposition of the imagery suggests that the
only true salvation is through Christ. In the midst of this rebellion
against a dedication to God, the juxtaposition of the imagery suggests
the inward presence of God instructing that the only true salvation
is through Christ. Thus, this stylistic device of the juxtaposition
of imagery prepares for the appearance of God at the conclusion of
Now that we have observed how the juxtaposition of imagery
suggests a meaning different frcn that of the surface, and prepares
for the conclusion, let us examine how the imagery, which presents
ultimately a spiritual meaning, is organized as a bodily action.
The opening line of "The Collar" is typical of the image
organization throughout the poems of Herbert. To depict on the
surface a state of restlessness in the matter of religious dedication,
Herbert begins with the image "I," and this "I" is en4maed in the physical
act of striking a "board" and uttering a cry, and thus a disturbed state
of the soul is suggested by a physical action.
In lines 2 through 6, the "I will abroad" and "y lines are
free, free as the rode" convey a sense of freedom from constriction.
The repetition of the "free" and the addition of the "loose" rein-
force this feeling of the lack of constriction.
Lines 7 through 12 continue the presentation of the event
as a bodily experience. We have already discussed the spiritual meaning
of these lines, and now we will examine how the surface meaning is
presented as a bodily experience. The "thorn," since it is connected
with the "To let me bloud," is presented as a painful sensation,
and on this surface level of meaning, "wine" and "fruit" are presented
as taste sensations.
IZagery of bodily action continues throughout the poem. In
lines 17 and 18 the possibility of reaching for and gathering fruit
is presented as an anticipated action of the body. The "Forsake thy
cage,/ Thy rope of sands,/ Which pettle thoughts have made" is
presented as an anticipated release from bodily constriction. The
same experience of an anticipated release from bodily constriction
is contained in the "tie up thy fears," and the "load" of line 32 is
presented as bodily pressure.
In the examination of "The Collar," we have observed how
a spiritual meaning is conveyed through events of bodily actions.
An event in this world figures a divine meanings This mode of
organizing imagery corresponds to "figural realism" as described
by Erich Auerbach in his essay on Dante in Misesis:
In my essay "Figura" . ., I have shown--convincingly,
I hope--that the Coaedy is based on a figural view of
things. In the case of three of its most important charac-
ters--Cato of Utica, Virgil, and Beatrice--I have attempted
to dmaonetrate that their appearance in the other world
is a fulfillment of their appearance on earth, their earthly
appearance a figure of their appearance in the other world.
I stressed the fact that a figural schema permits both its
poles-the figure and its fulfillment--to retain the
characteristics of concrete historical reality, in contra-
distinction to what obtains with symbolic or allegorical
personifications, so that figures and their fulfillent--
although the one "signifies" the other--have a significance
which is not inccepatible with their being real. An event
taken as a figure preserves its literal and historical
meaning. It remains an event, does not become a mere sign.
The Church Fathers, especially Tertullian, Jerone, and
Augustine, have successfully defended figural realism, that
is, the basic historical reality of figures, against all
attempts at spiritually allegorical interpretation. Such
attempts, which as it were undermine the reality of history
and see in it only extrahistorical signs and signification,
survived freo late antiquity and passed into the Middle Ages.
Medieval symbolism and allegories are often, as we know,
excessively abstract, and many traces of this are to found
in the Comedy itself. But far more prevalent in the Christian
life of the High Middle Ages is the figural realism which can
be observed in full bloca in sermons, the plastic arts, and
mystery plays . and it is figural realisf which dominates
5 Erich Auerbach, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western
Literature, trans. Willard R. Trask (Princeton, 19537 PP. 195-9.
Of course, the poetry of George Herbert is distinctly
different frai the Divine Comedy, but the relationship between
the historical event and its symbolical meaning.vhich is indicated
by the term "figural realism" is almost exactly parallel to the
relationship in Herbert between material things or events on the
one hand and their conceptual or spiritual meaning on the other.
His imagery depicts things and events which retain, if we may
borrow the words, "The characteristics of concrete . reality
and an event taken as figure preserves its literal material
meaning. It remains an event, does not become a mere sign, "The
significant difference between the devices of Dante and Herbert,
of course, is that whereas Dante's events were historical, Herbert's
were consciously fictional or personal. But in both modes of poetic
expression the event as event is accorded Importance at the same
time that importance is attributed to that of which it is the
A specific manifestation of "figural realism" in the poetry
of Herbert is the use of a physical event, especially a bodily state
or action, as a figuration of a divine meaning. This mode of image
organization was illustrated in the discussion of "The Collar" in which
the physical act of striking the board has the ultimate meaning that
restlessness brings man closer to God. "Figural realism," in which
an event in this world figures something divine, has its counterpart
in the doctrine that a correspondence exists between the physical
and spiritual, that created beings and the actions of created beings
reveal their creator, God. The doctrine of correspondence finds its
most common exemplification in the sayings of Jesus about the grain
of wheat and the mustard seed. Also, the doctrine Is expressed by
Thus there are two books frco whence I collect
my Divinity; besides that written one of God, another
of his servant Nature, that universal and public
Manuscript, that lies expans'd unto the eyes of all;
those that never saw him in the one, have discovered
him in the other: This was the Scripture and Theology
of the Heathens; the natural motion of the Sun made
them more admire him, than its supernatural station
did the Children of Israel; the ordinary effect of nature
wrought more admiration in them, than in the other all
his miracles; surely the Heathens knew better how to
joyne and read these mysticall letters, than wee
Christians, who cast a more carelesse eye on these
cocaon Hieroglyphicks, and disdain to suck Divinity
from the flowers of nature.6
In George Herbert's poem "The Flower," the doctrine of
correspondence is presented by suggesting that the life cycle of a
flower corresponds to the life cycle of a man. Both the flower and
the man are born, die, and are born again into a new life. The poem
illustrates an extension of Herbert's characteristic image pattern
in that the growth of a flower (a physical event) states figuratively
a divine truth concerning the life of a man.
How fresh, 0 Lord, how sweet and clean
Are thy returns! ev'n as the flowers in spring;
To which, besides their own demean,
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring.
6Sir Thoaas Browne, Religio Medei in Seventeenth-Century Verse
and Prose Vol. 1: 1600-1660, ed. Helen C. white et al. (ew York, 1951),
Grief melts away
Like snow in May,
As if there were no such cold thing.
Who would have thought my shriveled heart
Could have recovered greennesse? It was gone
Quite under ground; as flowers depart 10
To see their mother-root, when they have blown;
Where they together
All the hard weather,
Dead to the world, keep the house unknown.
These are thy wonders, Lord of power,
Killing and quickning, bringing down to hell
And up to heaven in an houre;
Making a chiming of a passing-bell.
We say aisse,
This or that is: 20
Thy word is all, if we could spell.
0 that I once past changing were,
Fast in thy Paradise, where no flower can wither!
Many a spring I shoot up fair,
Offering at heaven, growing and growing thither:
Nor doth my flower
Want a spring-showre,
My sinnes and I joining together:
But while I grow in a straight line,
Still upwards bent, as if heaven where mine own, 30
Thy anger comes, and I decline:
What frost to that what pole is not the zone,
Where all things burn,
When thou dost turn,
And the least frown of thine is shown?
And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing: 0 my only light,
It cannot be
That I am he 40
On whaa thy tempests fell all night.
These are thy wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flowers that glide:
Which when we once can finde and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us, where to bide.
Who would be more,
Swelling through store,
Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.
Now that we have observed in same detail the operation of a
characteristic imge pattern in a few poems, let us see how, by
recurring frequently, it can be called dominant in Herbert. At the
ame tim we shall notice that the pattern even in the limits of
Herbert's prevailing devotional mood, finds a rich variety of poetic
In "The Size" the Christian state of being is depicted through
imagery of the weight and formation of the body.
A Christians state and case
Is not a corpulent, but a thinne and spare,
Yet active strength; whose long and bonie face
Content and care
Do seem to equally divide,
Like a pretender, not a bride.
(p. 138, 11. 31-36)
In the same poem, God's state when in this world is depicted by the
image of a condition of the body, hunger.
To be in both worlds full
Is more than God was, who was hungrie here.
(p. 138, 11. 13-14)
Imagery of thinness of the body is used again in "Easter-Jings" to
depict a Christian state of being.
My tender age in sorrow did beginne:
And still with sicknesses and shame
Thou didst so punish sinne,
That I became
(p. 43, 11. 11-15)
In "H. Baptime(II)," Herbert uses the growth of the flesh,
the increase of the body in size and weight, as an image of that
which keeps a person from entering the "narrow way and little gate."
Since, Lord, to thee
A narrow way and little gate
Is all the passage, on Yy inf -rcie
Thou didst lay hold, and antedate
My faith in me.
0 let me still
Write thee great God, and me a child:
Let me be soft and supple to thy will,
mall to my self, to others ailde
Behither ill, 10
Although by stealth
My flesh get on, yet let her sister
My soul bid nothing, but preserve her wealth:
The growth of flesh is but a blister;
Childhood is health.
Thinness and leanness are used to suggest spiritual unrest
in "Affliction (I)"
Thus thinne and lean without a fence or friend,
I was blown through with ev'ry storm and winde.
Whereas my birth and spirit rather took
The way that takes the town;
Thou didst betray me to a lingering book,
And wrap me in a gown.
I was entangled in the world of strife,
Before I had the power to change my life.
(p. 47, 11. 35-42)
In "Church-aonuments" growing fat is connected with wantonness
"in thy cravings,," and considered a state not to be valued too highly.
To sever the good fellowship of dust,
And spoil the meeting. What shall point out them,
WeM thmy shall bow, ase asel, ean fall #am flat
To kisee toe heaps, vbhok ise they haLv Sm ttrsT?
Dear flosk, wkl. I do pray, lam here ty stame
Aat tir deseerat; tt vIwn tieu haelt prw fat,
Aant wate a n thy owrvimp, thou anst imev,
bart flehk is but the gcil ht*eh hemI s the cust
That eas-r.e all owr tta; ukick also srall
BO crm~lMl into ust. Mark he belew
Wt tam heam arhes ?re, how frw f trm lMt,
ThIt theMe 0yst fit thy reIf 0alut tVy fall.
(p. 65, 11. 13-*)
An IYmAe of a part ef the bey, the ey, is uwed as ae
expressive device in a aiber of N rtrt's poams. rib *ns"
steris with the pry e of oce not able U es the eoye, "I
camnwt cle itae eyes' (p. 6, e,s 1). In "aitho the ISY--ry
,hea the foe of dia sight.
LorA, bow couldst thou so uokh appease
thy wabh for sina cas, whea ram* sight vas dia-e,
AaA oul4 owe little, to regw his *a**,
Aan briag by Faith all thiaga to his?
(p. 49, 1. 1-4)
"Sido aed fmise eys "aee used as part of a paUera of a
diktbUrbe ceeditica aialy expremsea by lafinnities i varwous peats
of the body in "Longqin" to express 's yasa ing for Ge.*
With sick sao fmilekteyu,
With deublitg knae sad ~war bones,
To thee my ore,
To thee my Iroes,
To the y sighe, my eers aseead:
(p. 148, 11. 1-6)
In "Chuir amd Knot" thUr is a prescription for the prewavtie
of "ill eyes"--tbe "Mick aan fial.~t e'y of agingng" the r.4ing of
Who reade a chapter when they rise,
Shall ne're be troubled with ill eyes.
(p. 96, 1. 1-2)
Images of various disturbed bodily conditions in the forms
of fevers, headaches, and fractures are used to express the spiritual
plight of man.
Lord, how I am all ague, when I seek
What I have treasured in my memories
Since, if my soul make even with the week,
Each seventh note by right is due to thee.
I finde there quarries of pil'd vanities.
("The Sinner," p. 38, 11. 1-5)
One ague dwelleth in my bones,
Another in my soul (the memories,
What I would do for thee, if once my grones
Could be allov'd for harmonie):
I am in all a week disabled thing,
Save in the sight thereof, where strength doth sting.
("The Crosse," p. 165, 11. 13-18)
My flesh began unto my soul in pain,
Sicknesses cleave my bones;
Consuming agues dwell in ev'ry vein,
And tune my breath to grones.
("Affliction (I)," p. I4, 11. 25-28)
I have abused thy stock, destroyed thy woods,
Bucktall thy magazens: my head did ake,
Till it found out how to consume thy goods:
0 do not scourge mel
("Sighs and Grones," p. 83, 11. 9-12)
But thou wilt sinne and grief destroy;
That so the broken bones may joy,
And tune together in a well-set song,
Full of his praises,
Who dead men raises.
Fractures well cur'd make us more strong.
("Repentance," p. 48, 1L 31-36)
Imagery of painful touch or pressure seesations, the infliction
of pain upon the body, occur throughout the poem of Herbert. The
spearing of Christ in the poem "The Bag" is arranged in such a
manner than an acute sense of bodily pain, a pressure or thrust
upon the body, is conveyed. The pain experienced from "That ran
upon His vith a spear" is extremely acute, the whole force of a
running body is behind the piercing thrust.
But as be was returning, there came one
That ran upon him with a spear.
He, who cae hither all alone,
Bringing nor man, nor arms, nor fear,
Beceiv'd the blow upon his side,
And straight he turned, and to his brethren cry'd.
(p. 151, 11. 25-30)
Two stanzas in "Sighs and Grones" contain a plea mot to be
made a victim of a painful touch or pressure, a "bruise" or "grind."
0 do not use me
After my sinnes! look not on
But on thy glorie then thou wilt reform
And not refuse me: for thou onely art
The mightie God, but I a sillie worm;
0 do not bruise met
(p. 83, 11. 1-6)
0 do not blinde me
I have deserved that an Egyptian night
Should thicken all my powers; because my lust
Bath still sov'd fig-leaves to exclude thy light:
But I am frailtie, and already dust;
0 do not grinde mel
(p. 83, 11. 13-18)
In "The Crosse" appears another image of very violent pain and pressure
exerted by a rope winding about and cutting the heart.
Ah my deare Father, ease my saart!
These cantrarieties crush me: these crosse actions
Doe wind a rope about, and cut my heart:
And yet since these thy contradictions
Are properly a crosse felt by the Somae,
With but four words, my words, Thy vill be done.
(p. 165, 11. 31-36)
The experience of the extreme pain of being chained by the teeth
occurs in "Home."
What is this weary world; this meat sad drink,
That chains us by the teeth so fast?
(p. 108, 1.1 36-37)
Throughout the above patterns of painful pressure, Herbert has a
tendency to select images of soft objects, the vorn, or extremely
sensitive bodily parts to receive the pressure: a heart and the
Sin homers the heart until it becomes hard and insensitive
Sinae is still himering my heart
Unto a hardnesse, void of love.
(p. 60, 11. 17-18)
The brain is stoned in "Sepluchre."
Where our hard hearts have took up stones to brain thee,
And missing this, most falsly did arraigne thee
Onely these stones in quiet entertain thee,
(p. 41, 11. 13-16)
The eye is pricked in "Faith."
That which before wva dcrkned clean
With bushie groves, pricking the lookers eie.
Vanisht away, when Faith did change the scene:
And then appeared a glorious skie.
(p. 51, 11. 36-40)
The eyes are pricked again in "Frailtie."
But when I view abroad both Regiments;
The worlds, and thine:
Thine clad vith simplenesse, and sad events;
The other fine,
Full of glorie and gay eeds,
Brave language, braver deeds:
That which vas dust before, doth quickly rise,
And prick mine eyes.
(p. 71, 11. 9-16)
In "Affliction (IV)" thoughts becae knives that wound the
heart. Of course, "heart" does suggest a state of being, but is so
arranged in Herbert as also to represent a coecretioe--something
that can experience the action of a knife.
My thoughts are all a case of knives,
Wounding my heart
With scattered smart,
As vatring pots give flowers their lives.
Nothing their furie can control,
While they do vound and pink my soul.
(p. 90, 11. 7-12)
Again, a tender part is tortured in "Confession." The pain
is intensified by ccaparing it to the twisting of a screw into wood.
No scrue, no piercer can
Into a piece of timber work and winde,
As Gods afflictions into aan,
When he a torture hath desi5n'd
They are too subtill for the subt'lest hearts;
And fall, like rheumes, upon the tendrest parts.
(p. 126, n. 7-12)
In "Love Unknown" a tender organ, the heart, is acted upon by
excessive heat: "And threw my heart into the scalding pan" (1. 35).
The heart is scored by a graving tool in "Nature."
0 smooth my rugged heart, and there
Engrave thy rev'rend Law and fear;
Or make a new one, since the old
Is saplesse grown,
And a much fitter stone
To hide my dust, then thee to hold.
(p. 129, 11. 13-18)
The image of carving on a heart is used to depict a life deeply
devoted to Christ, and through this devotion a power is found to
control disorder. The imagery of the name of "Jesu" carved in the
shattered heart occurs in "Jesu."
Jesu is in my heart, his sacred name
Is deeply carved there: but the'other week
A great affliction broke the little frame,
Ev'n all to pieces: which I went to seek:
And first I found the corner, where was b
After, where S, and next where U was graved.
When I had got these parcels, instantly
I sat me down to spell them, and perceived
That to my broken heart he was I ease you
And to my whole is ESUt.
Often in depicting a harmonious relationship between man and
God, Herbert uses imagery of soft and gentle pressure or touch. The
soft pressure of the loving enclosure of the arm is used in "Paradise,"
thus the spiritual harmony with God is expressed through the employment
of a concretion of a protecting and loving touch. As has been seen
in a number of the previously discussed examples, Herbert has a strong
attraction toward the selection of tactile imagery--often violent
and painful, but sometimes gentle and soft.
What open force, or hidden CHFAM
Can blast my fruit, or bring me HAlj,
While the inclosure is thine ARM?
(p. 133, 11. 4-6)
In "Baster" the relationship with God is depicted by the touch
sensation of being led by the hand, the guidance of God*
Rise heart, thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise.
(p. 41, 11. 1-4)
The pattern in the poem "The Temper" refers to a nestling bird.
0 let me, when thy roof of my soul hath hid,
0 let me roost and nestle there:
Then of a sinner thou art rid,
And I of hope and fear.
(p. 55, 11. 17-21)
In "Vanitie (II)" the imagery likewise refers to resting in a nest.
Let them unto their kindred flie:
For they can never be at rest,
Till they regain their ancient nest.
Then silly soul take heed; for earthly joy
Is but a bubble, and makes thee a boy.
(p. Ml, 11. 15-18)
Often the tactile imagery takes the form of an entgaglement,
something which restricts bodily motion. In "Affliction (l)" the
"I" of the poem is entangled in fine household furniture.
I looked on thy furniture so fine,
And made it fine to me:
Thy glorious household stuff did me entwine.
(p. 46, 11. 7-9)
Being entangled or restricted is used in "Sinne (I)" to express
God's care for man, who is begirtt" with "care" and caught in
Lord, with what care hast thou begirt us round
Parents first season us: then schoolmasters
Deliver us to laws; they send us bound
To rules of reason, holy messengers,
Pulpits and Sundayes, sorrow dogging sinne,
Afflictions sorted, anguish of all sizes,
Fine nets and stratagems to catch us in,
Bibles laid open, millions of surprises.
(p. 45, 11. 1-8)
In "The Reprisall" a plea is made for a "disentangled state."
0 make me innocent, that I
May give a disentangled state and free:
And yet thy wounds still rry attempts defie,
For by thy death I die for thee.
(p. 36, 11. 5-9)
Many otler images of bodily action occur throughout the
poetry of George. In addition to the examples above there are
also such images of bodily action as frowning, stumbling, pulling,
and stretching--and, to conclude, a few of these will be examined.
Imagery of frowning occurs in "The Dawning."
Awake sad heart, whom sorrow ever drowns;
Take up thine eyes, which feed on earth;
Unfold thy forehead gathered into frowns;
Thy Saviourcoaes, and with him mirth:
(p. 112, 11. 1-5)
In "Miserie" there is the physical action of stumbling.
The best of men, turn but thy hand
For one poore minute, stumble at a pinne:
They would not have their actions scann'd,
Nor any sorrow tell them that they sinne,
Though it be small,
And measure not their fall.
(p. 100, 11. 19-24)
There is the stretched hand in "Providence": "The trees say,
Pull me: but the hand you stretch, / Is mine to write, as it
is yours to raise"(l. 23). And the "stretched sinews," an image
of the crucifixion, appear in '"aster."
Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.
(p. 117, 11. 7-12)
As has been seen in the preceding discussion, imagery of
the bodily in the poems of George Herbert is a dominant device used
to express Christian truths. The body, th&t which was created in
the image of God, is the book whose processes are the pages whereon
man reads and learns of the Creator. It is also the instrument
by which man responds to God. The body,the flesh, is not condemned
in the poetry of Berbert, except when man through his own efforts,
his sins, has abused this gift of the Creator by turning from the
Divine and dedicating himself to worldly matters without devotion
to God. The informing philosophy behind Herbert's imagery corresponds
closely to statements contained in a "meditation" of St. Francis
De Sales (1567-1622).
God did not create you because He had any need
of you, for you are wholly useless to Him, but only
that ge might exercise towards you His goodness, bestowing
on you His grace and glory. In order to which He has
given you an understanding to Imow Hia, a memory to
remeber Him, a will to love Him, an imagination to
recall His mercies, eyes to see the wonders of His works,
a tongue to praise Him, and so with all your other
faculties. Therefore, being created and placed in the
world for this purpose, you should avoid and reject all
actions which are contrary to it, and despise as idle
and superfluous all which do not promote it. Consider
the wretchedness of the world, which forgets this, and
goes on as though the end of creation were to plant and
to build, to asass wealth, and to live in frivolity.
Thank God who has made you for so good an end. Thou
hast made me, 0 Lord, for Thyself, and that I may for
ever share the iumensity of Thy glory. When shall I
be worthy of Thy goodness, and thank Thee worthily?7
7St. Francis De Sales, A Diary of Meditations, ed. Doa Cuthbert
(Chicago, 1957), p.2.
Sensuousness is a predominant characteristic often cited of
Crashaw's imagery, but this sensuousness has been little understood
outside of the astute observations of Ruth Wallerstein1 and a few
brief comments by Austin Warren.2 More often, this sensuousness has
been read and interpreted from what will be called in this study an
empirical point of view. The comments on Crashaw in a recent survey
of the period "From Donne to Marvell" portray this mode of interpre-
tation. D. J. Enright states,
Notorious in Crashaw's work is his sensuousness, and in
particular his use, in picturing sacred love, of the
metaphors--indeed, the atmosphere of human love, both of
1"In the expanding intensity of his particular sense impres-
sions, Crashaw sought to sink through them to something ampler, to
an abstract capacity for intangible sensation and a sort of ideal presence
of sensation" (p. 37). "The concrete images, as we have said, are
spread so unrestrainedly, mixedly, and without regard to their congruity
in thought or feeling with what they figure, that they lose all sensuous
reality' (pp. 82-83). "But, it cannot be too often stressed, this
sense image which he uses in his metaphor is to represent an idea,
and not primarily a sense impression; it is the symbol of an idea.
And the basic emotion which Crashaw seeks to create in us is to spring
not from the image, but directly from the idea" (p. 85). Ruth C.
Wallerstein, Richard Crashaw, A Study in Style and Poetic Development
2"All things flow. Crashaw's imagery runs in streams; the
streams run together; image turns into image. His metaphors are
sometimes so rapidly juxtaposed as to mix--they occur, that is,
in a succession so swift as to prevent the reader from focusing
mother for child and of man for woman. This sensuousness is
rather ambiguously present in his handling of spiritual and
physical torture:" blood"' and "silk" are his characteristic
To see both blended in one flood,
The Mothers'Milk, the Children's blood,
Makes me doubt if Heaven will gather,
Roses hence, or Lilies rather.
The reader may feel faintly repelled, but not shocked, for the
verse has no immediacy; the experience reaches us at second
hand, as if the poet is describing the picture of something
and not the thing itself.3
Although Enright's remarks are typical of many twentieth-
century readers of Crashaw, they are somewhat misleading. It is
very easy to diagnose why Enright feels that Crashaw'o imagery is
faintly repellent, why there is no immediacy, why "the thing itself"
is not being described. Enright is reading the poetry of the seventeenth-
separately upon each. The effect is often that of phantasmagoria. For
Crashaw, the world of the senses was evidently enticing; yet it was a
world of appearances only--shifting, restless appearances. By
temperament and conviction, he was a believer in the miraculous; and
his aesthetic method may be interpreted as a genuine equivalent of
his belief, as its translates into a rhetoric of metamorphosis. If,
in the Gospels, water changes to wine and wine to blood, Crashaw was
but imaginatively extending this principle when he turned tears into
pearls, pearls into lilies, lilies into pure Innocents.
'Style must incarnate spirit. Oxymoron, paradox, and hyperbole
are figures necessary to the articulation of the Catholic faith.
Crashaw's concetti, by their infidelity to nature, claim allegiance to
the supernatural; his baroque imagery, engaging the senses, intimates
a world which transcends them." Austin Warren, Richrd Crashaw, A
Study in Baroque Sensibility (University, Louisiana, 1939) pp. 192-93.
3 D. J. Enright, "George Herbert and the Devotional Poets," From
Donne to Marvell, vol. 3 of A Guide to English Literature, ed. Boris
fior (Hamondsworth, Middlesex, 1956Y7 p. 157.
century Crashaw frcm a viewpoint of twentieth-century empirically
imbued man. He has made no attempt to adjust with a historical
orientation his responses to the imagery of Crashaw. He is reading
Crashaw as if Crashaw were a contemporary.
When a twentieth-century reader finds Crashaw lacking in
immediacy, he is no doubt referring to the iamediacy of an empirical
organization of sense imagery, specified concrete particulars
depicted with the solidity of figured extension in a definite spatial
setting. When he finds that 'the thing itself" is not being described,
he is referring to a lack of concrete materiality and a lack of a
tangible temporal sense in a depicted situation. What this reader
wants is a this-worldly experience replete with images representing
the realness of concrete materiality with its individuation and
specific definiteness. Of course, Crashav's poetry and his imagery
will not meet these requirements; for Crashaw is not writing frao the
viewpoint of empiricism. Crashaw is writing within the Christian
tradition of symbolism. The symbolic image of Crashaw is not an image
in the sense of the idea of John Locke, a sense impression drawn frac
an experience of a concrete particular having primary and secondary
qualities and existing in a spatio-temporal setting: neither are the
main so-called sense images representations of sensory experience of
material things. The sensible qualities of Crashew' symbolic imagery
are not to be experienced in an empirical and noiinalistic sense,4
4The word "ncminalistic" here implies the concept which holds
that the particular material thing is the reality, and an abstract concept
derived from a group of particular things, is only a name for that group,
not a reality in itself.
but more in a sense, which had been described by Aquinas5 and which
is exemplified by the conventional interpretation of the Song of Songs,
of being images of an intelligible, a divine meaning. The sensuousness
of Crashaw is only apparent, not genuine, for his images ultimately
represent the substantial and superior reality of the realm of divine
Accordingly there is a peril that this imagery, this apparent
sensuousness, might by a twentieth-century reader be regarded as
"second hand" and lacking in immediacy. Of course, the imagery of
Crashaw lacks the physical immediacy of a nineteenth-century poet like
John Keats, who organizes his imagery as illustrated in this excerpt
5The part of Aquinas' doctrine that applies to Crashaw is the
part that did not apply to Donne. For the convenience of the reader,
I repeat this excerpt frcm Aquinas:
The parabolical sense is contained in the literal,
for by words things are signified properly and figuratively.
Nor is the figure itself, but that which is figured the
literal sense. When Scripture speaks of God's arm, the
literal sense is not that God has such a member, but only
what is signified by this member, nmaely, operative power.
Hence it is plain that nothing false can ever iinderlie the
literal sense of Holy Scripture.
In the poetry of Crashaw, the imagery, the most important iaagery, has
a tendency to function in the manner described in the above excerpt
frcm Aquinas. The literal sense of the image is actually that which
is figured, as we shall see in our discussion of "Tast this" (Teste
blood from a circumcision) in which the literal sense is actually the
offer of salvation through Christ, just as the literal meaning of "arm"
in the phrase "God's arm" is "operative power."
from "I Stood Tip-Toe."
Sometimes goldfinches one by one will drop
From low hung branches; little space they stop;
But sip, and twitter, and their feathers sleek;
Then off at once, as in a wantom freak:
Or perhaps, to show their black, and golden wings,
Pausing upon their yellow fluttering.
But Crashaw' poetry has a spiritual imediacy, presenting a super-
natural and otherworldy experience. Crashaw is not a nineteenth-century
poet endeavoring "to excite a feeling analogous to the supernatural, "7
for he is a seventeenth-century Christian who creates a direct experience
of the supernatural, the divine. When a reader fails to find an
immediacy in the poetry of Crashaw, and when he feels that Crasbav is
not describing "the thing itself," it is not an esthetic flaw in the
poetry of Crashaw; but it is the fault of the reader in that he lacks the
capacity to experience as something true and immediate the spiritual
force of Crashav's symbolic Imgery.
Let us take an example to indicate how Crasha may be faintly
repellent if one reads his images as if they represented the sensible
qualities of material objects. For instance, Crashaw says "Tast this"
referring to Christ's blood shed at his circumcision in the poem "Our
Lord in his Circuacision to his father." If the reader takes this
6Joho Keats, The Poems ed. E. De Selincourt, (Loadon, 1935),
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Li teraria, vol. II,
(Lcedon, 1847), p. 2.
image to represent physical blood, more than likely he will be faintly
repelled, but if this same reader adjusts his historical perspective and
experiences the "Tast this" frcm the viewpoint of the allegorical
symbolism of the Christian tradition in which the blood shed by Jesus as
a baby is a symbol of the blood shed on the cross which is in turn the
symbol of the eternal redemptive love of God, there is no reason why he
should be shocked or repelled. In fact the reader should experience a
sense of gratitude, a strong sense of obligation, even contrition, for
the "Tast this" is an offer of redemption frce perishableness, an ever-
lasting and perfect life in heaven--a gift that cost God much suffering.
To thee these first fruits of my growing death
(For what else is my life?) lo I bequeath.
Tast this, and as thou lik'st this lesser flood
Expect a Sea, my heart shall make it good.
Thy wrath that wades heere now, o're long shall swim
The flood-gate shall be set wide ope for him.
Then let him drinke, and drink, and doe his worst,
To done the vantonnesse of wild thirst
Now's but the Nonage of my paines, my feares
Are yet but in their hopes, not come to years.
The day of my darke woes is yet but more,
My teares but tender and my death new-borne.
Y et may these unfledg'd griefs give fate some guesse,
These Cradle-torments have their towardnesse,
These purple buds of blooming death my bee,
Erst the full statue of a fatall tree.
An till my riper woes to age are come,
This knife may be the speares Praeludium.
If we are to read Crashaw's poetry and not our own invention,
we must experience as closely as humanly possible the meaning that
Crashaw intended his images to have. The last line of "Our Lord
8Citations from Crashaw in my text are from Crashaw's Poetical
Works, ed. L. C. martin (Oxford, 1927), p. 98. Subsequent quotations
from Crashaw cited in my text refer to this edition.
in his Circumcision to his father" states explicitly this intended
allegorical meaning--"This knife may be the speares Praeludium."
The blood of the circumcision as a symbol of the blood shed on
the cross was a traditional Christian idea, and finds a more overt
expression in a fifteenth-century Eaglish meditation on the passion.
Ihu, that alle this world hast wroghte,
And of a clene virgyn so take oure kynde,
And with thi blode oure soules hast bought,
My love to the I pray the to bynde,
In verk, in worde, in thought of mynde.
My soule, my body, I yeue all to the;
So kynde a frende sehal I noon fynde,
ffor-why thi blode'thow sched for me.
fferst, ihu lord, sone after thi byrthe,
The .viii. day, named thi Circumacisyoun,
Thow wepte in stede of yoles myrthe,
And in a maner began thi passion;
So was the kytte for oure transgressyoun
With a stone knyf, aboue thi kne.
I loue the, lord with tree affeeioun,
ffor thus thi blode throw schedde for me.9
The image "blood" as a symbol of the salvation of man through
the sacrifice of Christ on the cross was a comonplace of the Christian
tradition. Such usage was widespread through patriotic writings.
Clement of Alexandria states, "Doubtless, then, we belong entirely to
Christ as His property from every point of view: by reason of relationship,
because his blood has redeemed us . the blood and the milk of the
Lord are a symbol of His suffering and of His teaching":10 and "to
9Religious Lyrio of XVth Century, ed. Carleton Brown,
(Oxford, 1939), p. 133.
10Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator, trane. Simeo P.
Wood, (New York, 1954), p. 46.
drink the blood of Jesus is to participate in His incorruption."11 Saint
Ignatius of Antioch writes, "And for drink I desire His Blood which is
love that cannot be destroyed."12 In his "Letter to the Philadelphians,"
Saint Ignatius associates the joyousness of heaven with the blood of
Christ, ". . I greet you in the blood of Jesus Christ, which is eternal
and abiding joy. ."13 Niceta of Remesiana comments, "He suffered
'in the flesh,' as the Apostle teaches, so that from his wounds might
flow salvation to mankind. ,14 The word "this" in "Our Lord in his
Circumcision to his father" has the same meaning as the word "blood"
in the writings of the early Church Fathers. If it had been chronologically
possible for Clement of Alexandria, Saint Ignatius of Antioch, and Niceta
of Remesiana to read Crashaw "Our Lord in his Circumcision to his
father," they would have been neither repelled or shocked by "Tast this."
The imagery in "Tast this" though not strictly in the prefigurative
tradition is similar to it. Therefore, although it is not within the
scope of this study to trace the origin and the development of the
prefigurative aspects of the allegorical tradition of symbolism, fairness
to Crashaw demands that the extensive understanding of this mode be made
llClement of Alexandria, p. 111
12Saint Ignatius of Antioch, 'Letter to the Romans." trans.
Gerald G. Walsh, The Apostolic Fathers (New York, 1947), p. 104.
13Saint Ignatius of Antioch, "Letter To The Philadelphians,"
14Niceta of Remesiana, Explanation of.the Creed trans. Gerald
G. Walsh (New York, 1947), p. 46.
clear. Etienne Gilson attributes the initiation of the Christian
prefigurative tradition to Justin Martyr, who said, "Whatever things were
rightly said among men, are the property of us Christians."15 Pre-
figuration was part of the Christian tendency to encompass and claims all
previous discoveries of truth as their ova, that of the Greeks as well
as those who wrote the Old Testament. Above all, this prefigurative
tradition tends to see a revelation of God as interpreted by the
Christians in everything. All previous thoughts and all objects of the
sensible world lead to the Christian God. For example, the blood of
the passover in the Old Testament according to Justin Martyr is a pre-
figuration of the blood shed on the cross: "And the blood of the
Passover, which was smeared on the side posts and transaces of the door,
saved those fortunate ones in Egypt who escaped the death inflicted upon
the first-born of the Egyptians. The Passover, indeed, was Christ, who
later sacrificed . .
The imge "fruits" in Crashav's first line "To thee these first
fruits of my growing death" functions in a way similar to this pre-
figurative manner. When read as a prefiguration and allegorical symbol,
the image "fruits" becomes alive with the tension of a strong dramatic
contrast on a cosaic level. The image "fruits" transfers the quality of
a desirable product needed for the nourishment of life in man to the
15Etienne Gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle
Ages (New York, 1955), p. 13.
6Saint Justin Martyr, Writings trans. Thnmas B. Fall (New York,
1948), p. 319.
referent of its metaphorical representation, the blood shed by Christ at
his circumcision; but also the "first fruits" suggests man's disobedience
to God through the eating of the fruit in the Garden of Eden. The fruit
of Adam's tree prefigures the fruits of the tree of the Cross.17 Han's
disobedience to and turning away from God required that God take on the
human capacity to suffer and sacrifice himself on the cross in order that
man may be redeemed and brought back to God. This theme has been well
expressed by Venantius Fortunatus:
When he fell on death by testing First of the forbidden tree:
Then another tree was chosen Which from death should free.
Thus the scheme of our salvation Was of old in order laid.
As we have observed in the examples of the symbolic function
of the "Tast this" (blood) and "first fruits" Crashaw's symbolism is not
primarily related to or an outgrowth from the sensible qualities of the
image. Let us draw a contrast between Crashaw's mode of thought end
that of a nineteenth-century poet. The image "Pausing upon their yellow
flutterings" in John Keats' "I Stood Tip-Toe" can be read as a symbol of
the philosophical conception of the reconciliation of the opposites, the
unification and coalescence of stillness and motion; but Keats'
symbolism is a direct outgrowth of the sensible qualities of the imagery.
The imagery of the goldfinches as "Pausing upon their yellow fluttering"
presents a sensory and empirical experience of the unification and
17Roseund Tuve, A Reading of George Herbert, (Chicago, 1952),
18Quoted by Tuve, A Reading f George Herbert, p. 112.
coalescence of stillness and motion; but the taste, warmth, and texture
of blood, which would be conveyed by the words "Tast this" if the poem
invited our attention to the physical aspects of a minor surgical
operation, these sensible qualities could not and would not suggest an
invitation to accept the salvation of man through the sacrifice of
Christ on the cross. But in Crashaw's poem they do indeed suggest
In Crashaw's symbolism a spiritual meaning replaces the sensible
effects of the imagery; but the thing which displaces the sensible
effect is not chosen arbitrarily, is not just a metaphorical construction
to give an added dimension of meaning to his words. The spiritual
meaning is an objective truth outside Crashaw, a fact ordained by the
divine order of God.
Crashaw's symbolism differs from such a system as that which
may be termed tropological symbolism. In Crashaw the thing symbolized
is fixed, in that it pertains to the eternal and universal truth of the
Christian revelation, but in tropological symbolism the meaning is
arbitrarily chosen and assigned. Using James Joyce's Ulysees as an
example of tropological symbolism and assuming that W. Y. Tyndall is
right in interpreting Stephen Dedalus' drinking chocolate with Loopold
Blocm as symbolizing the ccmunion of the poet with humanity, we
observe that the symbol and the thing symbolized in Joyce were arbi-
trarily chosen sad assigned.19 Joyce's symbolism is private and not
19"As Bloom and Stephen leave the brothel, Blocm feels fatherly.
Others 'in quest of paternity' have ccae to him, and, Father-Son, he
recognizes Stephen as the questing son. But in his social capacity
cosmic as is that of Crashaw. James Joyce's symbolism is tropological in
that it adds a figurative dimension to his language; and Crashaw's
symbolism is anagogic in the sense that his images through a traditionally
accepted allegorical extension partake of a mystical and spiritual
When reading what appears to be a sense image in Crashaw, the
reader must be very cautious and decide if the image actually is a
representation of sensory experience of the thing ordinarily referred to
by the word, and if so to what extent the sensible qualities of the image
function in the meaning. In spite of the seeming sesuela~sness in Crashaw's
imaery, Crashaw throughout his poetry condems the senses very often.
In a passage in "The Name Above Every Name," the poet asks for the
abolition of this-worldly senses, the senses being "so Profane a
Fallacy," and in that poem Crashaw organizes his words in a manner that
negates their customary suggestion of a sense experience. For example,
images describing the name of God in the following passage do not
Bloom sees Stephen as a scholar who will bring credit to the house of
Bloom. Fatherly, hopeful Bloom takes Stephen to the cbran's shelter,
where he offers him a bun and a cup of coffee. Refusing the bun,
Stephen sips the coffee before shoving it aside. Although he un-
enthusiastically recognizes Bloan as 'Christus,' he is still reluctant
to take the proffered camunion. But by the time they sit down
amicably together in the kitchen at 7 Eccles Street, Stephen is ready.
Bloom prepares two cups of Epps's cocoa. Host and guest drink 'Epp's
massproduct' in 'jocoserious' silence. 'Massproduct,' the key word,
means three things: the cocoa is mass-produced for the trade; as the
product of a symbolic Mass, it is the sacrament; and it suggests the
masses for whom,it is produced. The drinking of this cocoa, Stephen's
comunion with man, is the climax of the hunt of the father. Cocoa
must have been a personal symbol for coming to terms with man and
external reality. It was perhaps while living on cocoa in Pa*is that
Joyce began to understand the world around him."--W.Y. Tindall, James
Joae: His Way of Interpreting The Modern World (New York, 1950), p. 29.
represent concrete objects of this world experienced through the
senses, but they represent divine ideas of the objects. These divine
ideas of objects, such as "A Thousand Bleet Arabias" are contained in
God's name, and they are experienced spiritually, by the soul.
0 fill our senses, And take from us
All force of so Prophane a Fallacy
To think ought sweet but that which smells of Thee.
Fair, flowry Name; In none but Thee
And Thy Nectareall Fragrancy
Hourly there meets
An Vninersall Synod of All sweets;
By whom it is defined Thus
That no Perfume
For euer shall presume
To passe for Oderiferous,
But such alone whose sacred Pedigree
Can prove it Self some kin (sweet name) to Thee.
Sweet Name, in Thy each Syllable
A Thousand Blest Arabias dwell;
A Thousand Hills of Frankinsense;
Mountains of myrrh, and Bed of spices,
And ten Thousand Paradices
The soul that tasts thee takes from thence.
(p. 244, 11. 170-88)
The senses are condeaed in "The Hymn of Sainte Thcaas in
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrasent," as being superfluous: the "soul's
inquiring ey" is inferior to faith.
Down down, proud sense! Discources dy.
Keep close, my soul's inquiring ey!
Nor touch nor tast must look for more
But each sitt still in his own Dore.
Your ports are all superfluous here,
Saue That which lets in faith, the eare.
Faith is my skill. Faith can beleiue
As fast as love new lawes can giue.
Faith is my force. Faith strength affords
To keep pace with those powrfull words.
And words more sure, more sweet, then they
Loue could not think, truth could not say.
(p. 292, 11. 4-15)
Now that some indication has been given of the peculiar nature
of the symbolic function of an image in the poetry of Crashaw, let us
observe more in detail how this symbolism functions by examining an
individual poem, "On the wounds of our crucified Lord."
0 these vakefull wounds of thine!
Are they Houthes? or are they eyes?
Be they Mouthes, or be they eyae,
Each bleeding part same one supplies.
Lol a mouth, whose full-bloom'd lips
At too deare a rate are roses.
Lo! a blood-shot eye! that weepes
And many a cruell teare discloses.
0 thou that on this foot hast laid
Many a kisse, and many a Teare, 10
Now thou shal't have all repaid,
Whatsoe're thy charges were.
This foot hath got a Mouth and lippes,
To pay the sweet sume of thy kisses
To pay thy Teares, an Eye that weeps
In stead of Teares such Gems as this is.
The difference onely this appears,
(Nor can the change offend)
The debt is paid in Ruby-Teares,
Which thou in Pearles did'st lend.
Let us first of all examine some of the ideological tendencies
of the time, and note their relationship to the mode of thought behind
Crashaw's symbolism in this poem. The tradition of the emblem and
impresa is often cited as an influence on the poetry of Crashavw.
The emblems were graphic designs saoewhat esoteric, the meaning being
Wallerstein, pp. 114-35.
explained by an accomanying verse.21 The emblem was in great vogue
during the Renaissance in England and on the continent--one of the best
known emblem books today is Francis Quarles'. The emblems and the
symbolic imagery of Crasbaw are related by having a similarity in
function. Just as Crashaw's images have a meaning beyond that suggested
by their sensible qualities, the emblem have a meaning beyond that
contained in a direct experience of the graphic design; but of course, in
the case of the emblems the meaning is appended in the accompanying verse.
Consequently, the symbols of Crashaw and the emblem function to
convey their meaning in a similar manner, in the sense that the meaning
is not a result of the sensory experience of the means of the symbolism,
the image or the graphic desiga. In the one case the meaning is added
to the graphic design by a verse, in the other the meaning is added to
the verbal design by tradition.
Even the organization of the Imagery in "On the vo'udi of our
crucified Lord" has a correspondence to a traditional arrangement of
the emblem. For example, as emblem cited by Ruth Wallerstein is a
drawing of the five wounds of Christ with the fourth wound depicted as
a founded hand, and under this drawing there is a scroll inscribed
"i h c the well of grace."22 Below this emblem there is a verse by
William Billying explaining the meaning of the graphic design, a
meaning that is not to be apprehended by merely looking at it.
2allerstein, pp. 114-35 and Rosemary Freeman, English
Fiblea Books (London, 1948).
2Wallerstein, p. 119.
Bayle welle of grace most precyouse in honoure
Ia the Kynges left hande set of ierusalem
Swetter thanne bawve is thy sweet lycore.23
The first three lines of the poem "On the wounds of our crucified
Lord" correspond to the graphic design of the emblem in that they name
certain things; and the fourth line corresponds to the verse explaining
the emblem in that it makes a statement about the things named, "Each
bleeding pert some one supplies." Crashaw, just like William Billying,
has conceived the wounds of Christ as being a well of grace and a
fountain supplying salvation to mankind--a traditional Christian concept-
tion of the meaning of the wounds of Christ.
It is also a caconplace of literary criticism and scholarship
to connect Crashaw with the Counter-Reformation, the proclamations of
the Council of Trent, the Ignatian "application of the sensei."4 The
Council of Trent during Session XXV in order to combat ea aspect of the
Lutheran revolt approved the use of the senses and icons as external
helps in raising men to the contemplation of things divine. The action
of the Council is consonant with the general ideological atamophere of
the time in which many were influenced to endow things with a meeting
not contained in an experience of their sensible qualities, the meaning
not coming frac an empirical experience but superadded by the process of
23uoted by Wallerstein, p. 119.
24arren, pp. 63-76.