Corpus hominis, Organum Dei : George Herbert and the Protestant Meditative Experience

Scerbo, Nancy Claire (1987) Corpus hominis, Organum Dei : George Herbert and the Protestant Meditative Experience. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

T writer whose work is most informed by his knowledge and practice of Protestant meditation is George Herbert. Herbert's poetry has been called "the poetry of meditation," but it is more accurate to consider The Temple as a work suffused with the qualities of the Protestant meditative experience. By this is meant the bipartite approach to meditation --through the Word and to the self --- advanced by Hall and other writers as this acts upon the practitioner and his work. It is this commitment on the part of George Herbert to the Protestant meditative experience, and to the ways in which this commitment is demonstrated in The Temple, that is the subject of this study. Two corollary issues are also examined, both of which are of concern to English Protestants during the seventeenth century, yet which are given especial attention in The Temple. The first of these is the Protestant understanding of vocation, and the means whereby the writer's vocation is illuminated, maintained, and strengthened through meditation. The second issue, music, is a contentious subject for Protestants throughout the century. For Herbert, it is an essential component of his poetic and priestly vocations and of his understanding of the meditative experience, being a channel of God's grace akin to that which enables him to praise God through his work, and thus enact the primary function of the devotional poet. Among the many critical works that have been of use in the composition of this study, three in particular should be cited: Barbara Kiefer Lewalski's Protestant Poetics and the Seventeenth Century Religious Lyric. Richard Strier's Love Known: Theology and Experience in George Herbert's Retry, and Chana Bloch's Spelling the Word: George Herbert and the Bible. I have extended Lewalski's discussion of Protestant meditation with respect to Herbert with the help of Bloch's comprehensive research into his sources. Strier's sensitive analysis of Herbert's poetry has largely guided my own reading; however, I argue the Protestant soul depicted in The Temple is able, through meditation, to be more active on behalf of his spiritual and poetic development than Strier allows. Like these critics, my study of Herbert proceeds from a perception of his themes, sources, and theology as Protestant and of his work as "Protestant poetics," and with hope contributes to the analysis of seventeenth century literature from this critical perspective.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: British & Irish literature, Religious history
Date of Award: 1987
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1987-76664
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 13:56
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 13:56
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/76664

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