The disciplined heart : a study of the imagery in the poetry of George Herbert and Gerard Manley Hopkins



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Meditative poetry is a recognized form of literary verse having as its primary subjects God and the poet's relationship to God. Two English poets, George Herbert and Gerard Manley Hopkins, wrote this highly introspective verse in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries respectively. Herbert, an Anglican priest, compiled a collection of simple, concise poems called The Temple. The Church, the major section of the book, contains poetry which shows Herbert's heart, his mind, will and emotions, struggling to make a response of love to the Lord who loves him. The chief image Herbert uses is the stony heart. Man's heart is a stone calloused by sin, but God can break his heart with His love. Gerard Manley Hopkins, a Jesuit priest, wrote in a more flamboyant style than Herbert, but he had a similar vision of service and dedication to Christ. The intensity of Christ's sacrifice pervades his poetry. Hopkins uses nature images to express the transformation of man's heart by God and the beauty of Christ's sacrifice. Several years before his death,fHopkins wrote a series of dark sonnets which express the deep despair in his heart. However, his most memorable poems present his vision of Christ as God in one man's flesh and of Christ again present in his follower's flesh.