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“O write in brasse”: George Herbert’s trajectory from pen to print

Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise

Résumés

Les images d’écriture, et peut-être plus encore de rature, sont familières à qui aura lu Le Temple de George Herbert ; le poète, en effet, cherche à imiter le sacrifice christique à travers les larmes et l’encre qu’il fait couler. La façon dont Herbert participe à l’histoire de la publication a, en revanche, moins retenu l’attention de la critique. Une telle réticence s’explique aisément par le fait que le Temple ne fut publié que de façon posthume. Cependant, le tour plus biographique qu’ont suivi les études herbertiennes dans les dernières années a contribué à mettre en lumière le liens de l’auteur avec la coterie poétique qui s’était formée autour de William Herbert, duc de Pembroke, ainsi que son mode de publication aristocratique et manuscrite. Dans cet article, on tentera d’examiner comment Herbert, qui prend pourtant modèle sur le style à la fois simple et réflexif de Philip Sidney, met en scène, avant de s’en détacher, les modes de publication pratiqués par son milieu, pour leur préférer l’impression, même dans le cas de sa poésie dévotionnelle la plus personnelle. Il s’agira de voir que la dissémination de la lettre imprimée répondait au plus juste au projet esthétique et théologique qu’était celui de Herbert.

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  • 1 Helen Wilcox in her introduction to her edition of The English Poems of George Herbert, Cambridge, (...)
  • 2 On the topic of the different modes of scribal and printed publication, see the seminal works of Ha (...)

1George Herbert’s The Temple, it has been noted, “owes a great deal to the sonnet sequences of worldly love that were all the rage at the time of [his] youth”1. While Helen Wilcox’s analysis sheds light primarily on the thematic parallelism resulting from the conversion of secular into divine love, the legacy between early modern English sonnet sequences and Herbert’s devotional work can also be felt in terms of structure. The middle, most lyric part of The Temple, “The Church,” contains only fifteen sonnets out of some 160 pieces. Yet, their loose progression towards the poem entitled “Love” (III), enacting a visionary meeting with the divine object of the poet’s love, as well as the existence of clusters of consecutive poems on given themes, and the connections between dispersed poems bearing the same titles, recall the subtle progress and obsessive patterns found in the sequences of the great sonneteers. There is yet another way in which George Herbert’s poems evoke the sonnets found in the collections by Philip Sidney or William Shakespeare, and that is their frequently self-reflexive quality. The sonneteer, indeed, willingly portrays himself, pen in hand, musing on the power and / or weakness of his words, writing from a space of intimacy, and debating over the question of “publication,” which, as we now well know, was not necessarily inclusive of the printed form in early modern England2.

  • 3 See Herbert’s second 1610 sonnet to his mother, l. 11. Herbert’s English verse will be quoted throu (...)
  • 4 A term favored by both authors when referring to the poetical art of mimesis.
  • 5 Philip Sidney’s text will be quoted throughout in William A. Ringler’s edition, The Poems of Sir Ph (...)

2Given the importance of Philip Sidney in the development of English lyric poetry as well as George Herbert’s ties with the circle of his distant cousin, William Herbert, the 3rd Earl of Pembroke, who also happened to be Sidney’s nephew, it is quite unsurprising to find in particular, in Herbert’s Temple and the early sonnets to his mother, echoes to Astrophil and Stella involving more or less explicit instances of self-portraiture by the poet. Like Sidney, Herbert repeatedly draws attention in deictic fashion to the act of writing and to the ink he has decided to “bestow”3 on the object of his praise, even if he has substituted God for Astrophil’s Stella, for the starlover’s worldly star. In both Astrophil and Stella and The Temple, the speaker – presenting himself as the poet – takes us through the same contradictory steps of poetical creation leading him from invention to penned composition and elocution, that is from the internalized image of the object of praise to the act of “copying”4 it. In sonnet 90 of Astrophil and Stella the speaker explains that his art consists precisely in transforming, by the use of his “plumes” (l. 11), the beauty of his model into an object of ink and words: “For nothing from my wit or will doth flow, / Since all my words thy beauty doth endite, / And love doth hold my hand, and makes me write” (l. 12-14)5. The process is replicated by Herbert as he seeks to “copie [Christ’s] fair, though bloodie hand” (“The Thanksgiving,” l. 16), however much he derides those poets who choose earthly love as their topic of invention, as is evidenced by the lapse from the naturalness and forcefulness of the poet’s hand to the more artificial glove: “Who sings thy praise? onely a scarf or glove / Doth warm our hands, and make them write of love” (“Love” (I), v. 13-14).

  • 6 See also sonnets 19 and 28 for the expression of a similar idea.

3More characteristically than anything else, Herbert borrows Sidney’s “plain style” as well as his taste for dialogue. Just like Astrophil, who questions himself and listens to his muse or to personified “Love” giving him advice and bringing him to acknowledge what he has in fact known all along, Herbert’s speaker engages in self-interrogation and is often guided in his literary choices by the intervention of a friendly voice – presumably God’s or Christ’s own, but perhaps, in truth, only another part of himself. The answer Herbert receives to his poetical queries in “Jordan” (II) – when he hopelessly strives to find “quaint words” and “trim invention” suitable for praising God but finally hears a voice tell him that “there is in love a sweetnesse readie penn’d: / Copie out onlye that, and save expense” – stems directly from Sidney’s own sonnets, his rejection of “those far-fet helpes” found in “Dictionarie’s methode” (sonnet 15), and the invitation of his muse to more simply “looke in [his] heart and write” (l. 14, sonnet 1). Astrophil, in other words, is asked to be content with merely “copying” Stella, the absolute source of invention. Sidney’s sonnet 3 posits indeed that : “[...] in Stella’s face I reed, / What Love and Beautie be, then all my deed / But copying is, what in her Nature writes” (l. 12-14)6. Yet the equation is not always so easily squared.

4The doubts of the devotional poet in The Temple, who “often blotted what [he] had begunne” (“Jordan” (II), l. 9), also seem to resound like the frustration of the love poet facing the inadequacy of his “writings,” described as “bad servants” (sonnet 21). In Sidney’s dialogue sonnet 34, the poet’s questions and doubts come to bear not only on the act of writing but also on that of publication, in the broad sense of making a text available or publicizing it:

Come let me write, ‘And to what end?’ To ease
A burthned hart. ‘How can words ease, which are
The glasses of thy dayly vexing care?’
Oft cruell fights well pictured forth do please.
‘Art not asham’d to publish thy disease?’
Nay, that may breed my fame, it is so rare:
‘But will not wise men thinke thy words fond ware?’
Then be they close, and so none shall displease.
‘What idler thing, then speake and not be hard?’
What harder thing then smart, and not to speake?
Peace, foolish wit, with wit my wit is mard.
Thus write I while I doubt to write, and wreake
My harmes on Ink’s poore losse, perhaps some find
Stella’s great powrs, that so confuse my mind.-

5Though Herbert voices the doubts of the scribbling poet as regards to his imitative power in Sidnean fashion, the anxiety about the question of publication – which is inevitably and deeply linked to one’s potential “fame” in Sidney’s sonnet, as well as his ability to skillfully imitate “Stella’s great powrs” – is not as explicitly dramatized in what are generally considered the more private, devotional poems of “The Church.” While The Temple offers numerous close-ups on the act of writing (and blotting), the social act of publicizing the work seems to have been somewhat brushed aside by the author in poems such as “Jordan” (II), where the focus is on the fit form to be given to the poet’s praise of God. Instead, the act of publication is apparently given up to a third person, if we believe the account of the publishing history of Herbert’s Temple given by Izaak Walton. Herbert’s early biographer reports that the poet would have had his work sent from his death bed to his friend Nicholas Ferrar, declaring :

  • 7 Izaak Walton, The Life of Mr George Herbert, in George Herbert, The Complete English Poems, John To (...)

6Sir, I pray deliver this little book to my dear brother Ferrar, and tell him he shall find in it a picture of the many spiritual conflicts that have passed betwixt God and my Soul, before I could subject mine to the will of Jesus my Master […] if he think it may turn to the advantage of any dejected poor soul, let it be made public; if not let him burn it; for I and it are the less than the least of God’s mercies.7

  • 8 The expression is borrowed from Marotti, Manuscript, Print, and the English Renaissance Lyric, op. (...)

7Are we to believe, in keeping with Herbert’s supposed final command, that his work stages only the spiritual conflicts of a poet struggling with the worthiness of his act of writing to the exclusion of all social conflicts relating to fame, the possibility of publishing one’s work, and the process of self-authorizing it? Such a hypothesis is already contradicted when reading the two pieces “Jordan” (I) and Jordan (II) together. Though the second of the two “Jordan” poems offers a form of resolution to the unsatisfying act of writing and blotting by pointing in the direction of simply “copying” God’s love, the first one shows how the poet may have previously been engaged in and even trapped within a poetic system of “competitive social game”8:

Shepherds are honest people; let them sing:
Riddle who list, for me, and pull for Prime:
I envie no mans nightingale or spring;
Nor let them punish me with losse of ryme,
Who plainly say, My God, My King. (“Jordan” (I), l. 11-15)

  • 9 In her edition of Herbert’s poems, Helen Wilcox notes that “pull for Prime” is a “phrase used in th (...)
  • 10 See, in particular, ch. 2 “George Herbert and Coterie Poetry,” in Cristina Malcolmson, Heart-Work: (...)
  • 11 See Arthur F. Marotti, John Donne, Coterie Poet, Madison, Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin Press, (...)

8Referring to the figure of the poet through the typical self-reflexive pastoral analogy with the shepherd, and conjuring up the spirited world of card games9, Herbert seems to be indicating that he, as a poet, has had to inscribe his own work in relation to the practice of competitive coterie poetry, itself intimately linked to limited scribal publication. Cristina Malcolmson has already challenged the notion of Herbert as a socially disinterested and secretive devotional poet, offering instead a stimulating reading of at least part of his work as a religious variant of coterie poetry10, a line of interpretation that is congruent with what is known, for example, of the modes of publication and circulation of John Donne’s lyric poetry, whether secular or devotional11. While acknowledging that Herbert’s verse is indeed written against the backdrop of coterie poetry, my focus will be slightly different. I would like to suggest that in drawing particular attention to the act of writing in his poems, Herbert necessarily also dramatizes the question of publication. Through his Temple, as well as in his attitude towards publication with other works of his, George Herbert engages in a “debate” with Sidney, or rather the Sidney circle at large, calling into question and revising not only Philip’s definition of the poet and of what it means to “imitate,” but also the modes of publication which he saw at work within the Herbert-Sidney-Pembroke coterie. Though nearly all of Herbert’s works were printed posthumously and though there is no firm proof of any form of circulation of The Temple during the author’s life, it may precisely be because Herbert himself gradually distanced himself from the modes of circulation of his milieu and grew into the idea of publishing his lyric poetry in printed form that he was able to give his work its particular aesthetics and theological purpose.

To Copy

  • 12 Philip Sidney, An Apology for Poetry [1595], Geoffrey Shepherd (ed.), London, Thomas Nelson, 1965, (...)
  • 13 I am particularly indebted to Christine Sukic’s forthcoming article on “Sir Philip Sidney et l’ars (...)

9In Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella, the poet very often belittles his work in order to better eulogize the woman he loves. The portrait he sketches of Stella is poor “counterfeiting.” His lines can only render in “weake proportion / [...] that which in this world is best” (sonnet 50). Such a process of self-demeaning by the poet can, of course, be read as simply rhetorical. However, the inefficiency of the poet’s “writings” reaches beyond the very common topos of humility. Sidney himself, it appears, uses his sonnet sequence as a first skeptical answer to the more conservative and confident views expressed on the imitative power of poetry in his own Apology for Poetry. The “weake proportion” of the poet-as-Astrophil mirrors in reverse the ability of the “right poet” who, though he is not endowed with the same powers as the divinely inspired vates, can still “grow in effect another nature, in making things either better than Nature bringeth forth, or quite a new form such as never were in Nature.”12 The chasm Sidney introduces in Astrophil and Stella between the object he yearningly attempts to represent and the unsatisfying portrait he manages to actually “draw,” repeatedly opens on a reflexive experience where the poet is “reduced” to contemplating the materiality of his poem. In other words, the conscience he has of his poem as a piece of writing is generated by a form of failure in the practice of an Aristotelian art of mimesis13.

  • 14 Philip Sidney, An Apology, op. cit, p. 53.

10Yet, despite these serious breaches in the art of imitation, the Sidnean sonneteer still possesses a certain power to “figure forth” Nature thanks to the “speaking picture of poesy”14. Though the poet “cannot chuse but write [his] mind, / And cannot chuse but put out what [he writes]” (sonnet 50, l. 9-10), his blotting does not fully bar his writing from remaining an imitative art, in the Aristotelian sense of a re-creation: “STELLA, the fulnesse of my thoughts of thee / [...] do swell and struggle forth of me, / Till that in words thy figure be exprest” (sonnet 50, l. 1, 3-4). However humble and inadequate, the poet’s words and lines continue to offer at least a hollow, inky “portrait” of Stella. It seems there is at times a form of true, imitative resemblance between the blackness of Stella’s eyes and the poet’s dark specks of ink, both of which overlap to become, in sonnet 7, “this mourning weed, / To honor all their deaths, who for her bleed” (l. 13-14). Herbert’s numerous “acts of blotting,” I would suggest, tend to bear a deeper meaning yet as they do not only call into question the possibility for “acts of writing” to function mimetically, but also that of the poet to be a “Maker,” that is to have the power of re-creating in ink and words an image of the unattainable object of love.

  • 15 By “earlier” poems, I refer here both to poems that appear towards the beginning of the sequence an (...)
  • 16 William Alabaster, The Sonnets of William Alabaster, G. M. Story and Helen Gardner (eds), Oxford, O (...)
  • 17 The quote is taken from one of his “Penitential Sonnets,” sonnet 16 in ibid.

11Some of the earlier poems of Herbert’s central sequence in the Temple15 propose a similar form of continuity, no longer between the blackness of the poet’s ink and the lover’s eyes, but between that ink and the sinner’s tears as well as Christ’s blood. To that extent, Herbert seems to be embracing a common motif among devotional poets, especially Catholic, in early modern Europe. Catholic authors of devotional verse in England, such as Robert Southwell and William Alabaster, had already exploited the analogy. In the first of his “Divine Meditations,” Alabaster vows to “Take the portrait of Christ’s death in [him]” and “let [his] love with sonnets fill this book”16. In other pieces, his own tears mingle with the water “that doth issue from Christ’s wounded side”17, and Christ’s own blood conversely serves to write the same message in the penitent’s soul as the one that is materially set forth by the poet in his sonnet:

  • 18 “The Sponge,” l. 11-14, sonnet 24 in ibid.

Take up the tart sponge of thy Passion
And blot it forth; then be thy spirit the quill,
Thy blood the ink, and with compassion
Write thus upon my soul: thy Jesu still.18

12Picking up on this tradition, Herbert initially suggests that the mimetic connection between the blood of Christ, on the one hand, and the ink of the poet mingled with his repentant tears, on the other, may indeed be at work. “Shall I weep bloud?” he asks in “The Thanksgiving,” before offering up his heart for the inscription of Christ’s own crimson letters in “Good Friday”:

Since blood is fittest, Lord, to write
Thy sorrows in, and bloudie fight ;
My heart hath store, write there, where in
One box doth lie both ink and sinne (l. 21-24).

  • 19 Claudine Raynaud, “‘Blood, Ink, and Sin’: Writing Sacrifice in The Temple,” QWERTY, 1997, p. 39-49, (...)
  • 20 The reference is of course to Stanley E. Fish’s Self-Consuming artifacts, Berkeley, University of C (...)
  • 21 Herbert never explicitly calls himself or his speaker a “poet” in his works, holding himself volunt (...)

13In “The Altar,” the opening pattern poem of “The Church”, Herbert argues that his own piece of writing, described as a “broken ALTAR,” might itself be taken as a sacrifice: “O let this blessed SACRIFICE be mine” (v. 15). However, after witnessing Christ’s crucifixion anew in the long poem aptly entitled “The Sacrifice,” the poet is repeatedly forced to recognize that “there is no dealing with thy mighty passions / For though I die for thee, I am behind” (“The Reprisal”, l. 2-3). To the previously mentioned question of his poem “The Thanksgiving,” “But how then shall I imitate thee, and / Copie thy fair though bloudie hand?”, the speaker is forced to answer in the end, “Then for thy passion – I will do for that – / Alas my God, I know not what.” The poem thus points, as Claudine Raynaud has argued, “toward the impossible horizon where writing and bleeding coincide”19. Submitting to the Calvinist view on the uniqueness of Christ’s sacrifice, Herbert also has to relinquish the imitative powers of poetry. The poet’s blots, which participate in the appropriate “self-consuming”20 of poetry with regards to God’s exclusive authorship, become a pure “negative” or “reverse,” rather than an imitative, image of God’s fullness and truth. Herbert draws upon Sidney’s argument in favor of a new, more modest poetics of the heart, which would no longer “bewray a want of inward tuch” (sonnet 15, l. 10), a poetics that thus acknowledges its own failures in the art of imitation. Yet he does not do so for the sake of poetry’s naturalness. He takes Sidney’s own doubts concerning the efficiency of the art of copying a step further and exposes the unbridgeable gap between the “verser’s”21 art and God’s own works and sacrifice: “Whereas if th’heart be moved, / Although the verse be somewhat scant, / God doth supplie the want” ( “A True Hymne”). In showing, and even representing, the breakdown of human mimetic art in the act of copying, Herbert indicates the necessary presence of God beyond the poet’s ink, rather than he stages how a poet’s blots can turn into an inky and nearly independent re-creation of the loved object. Meantime, however, Herbert also alludes to some of the other more earthly benefits of writing poetry. In expending efforts to laud God in verse, the poet does get a chance at displaying his talents to the world :

Then I will use the works of thy creation,
As if I us’d them but for fashion.
The World and I will quarrel […]
My musick shall finde thee, and ev’ry string
Shall have his attribute to sing (« The Thanksgiving », v. 35-37, 39-40)

To publish — scribally

  • 22 Cristina Malcolmson, Heart-Work, op. cit., p. 88.
  • 23 For a definition and classification of seventeenth-century answer-poems, see E. F. Hart, “The Answe (...)
  • 24 Ibid., p. 9.

14Christina Malcolmson has convincingly shown how, in “The Thanksgiving,” the poet’s relationship to God is construed along the lines of “the craft and competitive test of skill involved in answering a well-known poem”22 within a given social circle. The answer-poem is a form of parody whose purpose is not to mock the original but rather, through close verbal parallelism and usually metrical identity, to twist the meaning just enough so as to throw into relief one’s own wit or perspective23. In Herbert’s “Thanksgiving” indeed, the answer-poem, which supposes a form of extremely limited scribal publication within the space of competitive coterie poetry, serves as a model for the poet’s relationship to God as he strives to “reade [his] booke” and then “turn back on [him]” his “art of love” in lines 45 to 48. And, even if the poet’s attempts fall short in the end of God’s art of love, he has still been given the opportunity to “quarrel” with the world and show the skill and “fashion” of his own song. According to Malcolmson, the Temple originates in coterie writing. Herbert’s “sacred parodies” of love lyrics constitute in fact another form of “answer-poems.” The critic argues that, even in The Temple’s later version, Herbert’s poems still serve his “pursuit of patronage within the circle of the Earl of Pembroke,” though the author also brings correctives to his attempt at using religious “fiction” for “gentility-making,” affirming instead a new pastoral ideal. Malcolmson sees good evidence that a certain number of pieces in the Temple, including the early “Jordan” poems, but also later poems such as “A Parody,” “The Rose,” “A Posie,” and “The Answer,” are inscribed within the general practice of the answer-poem, “refer[ing] obliquely to verses by the Earl’s uncle, Sir Philip Sidney, as well as to Edward Herbert, Shakespeare, and the Earl himself”24. In a poem like “The Posie,” the speaker very voluntarily puts at a distance the competitive and select poetical practice of his milieu:

Let wit contest,
And with their words and posies windows fill:
Lesse than the least
Of all thy mercies
, is my posie still.
[…]
Invention rest,
Comparisons go play, wit use thy will:
Lesse than the least
Of all Gods mercies, is my posie still. (“The Posie,” l. 1-5, 9-12).

15He does so in “The Rose” as well, when his arguments against those that “press him” to “take more pleasure / In this world of sugared lies” are repeatedly and explicitly given in the form of an “answer”: “Only thou I you oppose, / Say that fairly I refuse, / For my answer is a rose” (l. 30-31). Yet, while dismissing the practice of poetic, courtly rivalry, the poet also wittily attracts attention to his “difference” and still submits to the game of responding as well as to this other, divine master, whose favors he might want to attract.

16Could Herbert be implying through such poetical responses how appropriate he has become for his new calling? Could he have published some of his poems scribally and attempted to use them to gain preferment within the Church rather than within purely political and courtly circles, once that latter perspective had faded for him in the mid-1620s? Though very little is known about the exact dates of composition and the manuscript circulation of Herbert’s poetry during his life time, the common, substantiated supposition is that The Temple underwent two major phases. Herbert probably first wrote those poems appearing in the Williams manuscript sometime prior to 1623/1624, when a student, then lecturer and Public Orator at Cambridge. The other poems, found only in the Bodleian manuscript and copied at Little Gidding from the author’s lost holograph, would have been penned between 1625 and Herbert’s death, over a period when the author would have renounced secular functions and accepted fairly modest offices in the Church. It seems actually quite unlikely that George Herbert would have conceived of his religious verse exactly in the same way as John Donne, another family friend. The differences in the way each of the two poets may have envisioned the social function of their religious verse as well as the value and forms of publication have been largely obscured not only because of the long-lasting relationship between the two men but also by the fact that both of their works were published posthumously the same year (1633). I hope to suggest that Donne and Herbert may have had diverse appreciations of what the act of writing and of publishing involved. Bringing to light such a distinction may help to grasp deep, aesthetico-theological nuances.

  • 25 Arthur Marotti, op. cit., p. 246.
  • 26 Ibid., p. 245.
  • 27 See John Donne, The Divine Poems, Helen Gardner (ed.), Oxford, Clarendon, 1952.
  • 28 Though Donne wrote religious verse after taking orders, only “A Hymn to God my God, in my Sicknesse (...)
  • 29 See David Novarr, The Disinterred Muse: Donne’s Texts and Contexts, Ithaca, NY, Cornell University (...)

17The use of religious verse as a means of preferment was in fact made possible by Jacobean courtly culture itself. Arthur Marotti explains that “[b]y authorizing the composition of religious works, King James created a situation in which religious poetry could, paradoxically, both continue to signal the frustration of ambition (with a consequent sense of alienation from the world of power and wealth) and express active suitorship in an officially sanctioned literary vocabulary”25. Donne, he contends, makes full use of this opportunity in his religious poems which precede his ordination, as for example, in the series of 6 holy sonnets he sent “to the new and notoriously extravagant Earl of Dorset along with a brazenly flattering introductory sonnet”26. Even on the day of his ordination, the Latin poem he is reputed to have sent George Herbert, is addressed to a young man the new churchman definitely considers as a coterie reader. Donne accounts for his own change of arms on his seal and flatters his addressee by implicitly recalling the feats of Saint George, Herbert’s homonymic patron27. After his ordination, Donne testifies to a more ambivalent attitude regarding publication. Though he himself worked at re-writing over 80 of his sermons with a printed publication in mind and was eager to see his prose Devotions upon Emergent Occasions come out in print, his religious verse continued to circulate only in manuscript form and to be used for the purpose of gaining patronage, when he still wrote any28. His poem “Upon the translation of the Psalms by Sir Philip Sidney, and the Countess of Pembroke his Sister” was written right after the Countess’s death on September 25, 1621. Novarr conjectures that it might have constituted an opportunity to call himself to the attention of William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, in hope that he might support him in his fairly aggressive campaign for the position of Dean of St Paul’s, where he was eventually elected in November29.

18Much less is known about the manuscript circulation of individual pieces of The Temple than about Donne’s religious lyrics. The very dates of composition, as previously said, are conjectural. That Herbert was known by his peers as a religious poet is quite clearly suggested in Bacon’s own dedicating of his Translations of Certaine Psalmes into English Verse to George Herbert in 1625:

  • 30 Quoted by F. E. Hutchinson in his introduction to his edition of George Herbert, The Works of Georg (...)

Besides, it being my manner for Dedications, to choose those that I hold most fit for the Argument, I thought, that in respect of Divinitie, and Poesie, met (whereof the one is the Matter, the other the Stile of this little Writing) I could not make better choice.30

  • 31 Philip Herbert succeeded to the 3rd Earl upon the latter’s death on 10 April 1630, six days before (...)
  • 32 Cristinia Malcolmson, op. cit., p. 117.

19Malcolmson also believes that some of Herbert’s poems, such as “A Parodie,” which is modeled on the 3rd Earl of Pembroke’s love poem “Soule’s Joy,” circulated in manuscript and were most likely set to music and sung at private recitals in Wilton House, the residence of the Earl, where Herbert also served as the spiritual advisor to the 4th Earl of Pembroke’s wife, Lady Anne Clifford31. Yet, although Herbert indisputably shaped some of his poems on existing pieces that circulated in the Sidney-Herbert coterie, evidence of their scribal publication remains inconclusive. It seems that Herbert was rather interested in staging the dynamics of the answer poem and confounding its logic. “The Answer,” for example, clearly recalls sonnets from Astrophil and Stella dealing with the speaker’s relation to his social surroundings and lack of success in the world. Herbert’s speaker explains how he is coaxed into justifying himself for a similar form of lethargy and social retreat, how he is, in Malcolmson’s words, being tempted “into an engagement with worldly ritual”32:

[…] But to all,
Who think me eager, hot, and undertaking,
But in my prosecutions slack and small;
[….] to all, that so
Show me, and set me, I have one reply,
Which they that know the rest, know more then I. (l. 5-7, 12-14)

  • 33 Ibid., p. 114.

20Though I agree with Malcolmson that Herbert in part refuses to “comply with the requirements” of the ritual of the answer poem here in “not deliver[ing] the anticipated wit-blow or competitive proof of mastery”33, it is much less certain that the poem was actually destined by the author to be read in manuscript by the coterie his speaker seemingly addresses. It is not even, in fact, an answer-poem in the strict formal sense of the word. By dramatizing and re-shaping the poetical ritual, Herbert may in fact be working at retrieving lyric poetry from its traditional locus and the limited, elitist circuits of scribal publication. The very title of the poem, “The Answer,” can be opposed to the common, indefinite “A reply”s of the time. Its generic quality draws attention to the vain, worldly mechanics of competitive scribal publication, and opens up on the possibility of a different readership.

To print

  • 34 See Richard Strier, “Lyric Poetry From Donne to Philips,” in James Shapiro (ed.), The Columbia Hist (...)
  • 35 Greg Miller, George Herbert’s “Holy Patterns”: Reforming Individuals in Community, New York and Lon (...)
  • 36 Ibid., p. 51.

21Analyzing the importance of The Temple within the broader context of the evolution of English poetry, Richard Strier purports that the very form of Herbert’s work, with the appearance of individual titles for each poem – an element only found beforehand in Tottel’s Miscellany – testifies to the full submission of the lyric poem to the new culture of print34. On the other hand, building on and beyond Malcolmson’s coterie-based reading of Herbert, Greg Miller’s careful parallel examination of the manuscripts of The Temple and the first, 1633 edition, lead him to attribute all initiatives concerning print to the author’s posthumous copyists and publisher. The Williams manuscript in particular, which is the only one to bear corrections in the author’s own hand, would have been “assembled […] for another coterie audience, a small circle of readers at Little Gidding” that was “committed to a common political and religious perspective,” one also that would have shared with Herbert a critical outlook on “the rising immorality of courtly and aristocratic culture”35. In Miller’s perspective, the additional italics in the printed version, whose effect is to clarify scriptural quotations amongst other things, makes way for a more didactic text in tune with a broader readership whereas Herbert “had political reasons for limiting circulation of his English poems during his lifetime to a small circle of friends involved with the Little Gidding community and the failed Virginia Company”36. Such a hypothesis, I believe, is not exclusive of a growing desire on the author’s part for print, especially when one considers with what swiftness his Temple came out of the press after his death. It seems crucial, at this point, to ask how consciously Herbert may have moved away from the practices of publication of the circles he came from and what theological significance this shift may have had if it actually occurred.

22One helpful indicator is to look not only at The Temple in its consecutive script and print versions but also to survey more generally Herbert’s lifetime publications. The list of his publications in printed form does not, at first sight, depart from the rules of aristocratic writing serving for purposes of advancement. Only occasional Latin elegies and two orations of his made it to the printing press. His first publication was the two poems he contributed to a Cambridge collection of elegies on the death of Prince Henry. Similarly, he published another Latin elegy on the occasion of Queen Anne’s death, in the collective 1619 Lacrymae Cantabrigienses. In 1623, two of his orations and an epigram, he had delivered as the Public Orator of Cambridge on the occasion of Prince Charles’s then King James’s visits to Cambridge, were published “by command.” A Latin elegy on Francis Bacon appeared in another Cambridge collective book, Memoriae Francisci Baronis de Verulamio Sacrum, which Herbert seems to have been instrumental in publishing in London this time, as Bacon had fallen in disgrace. Finally, in 1627, a month after his mother’s death, his Memoria Matris Sacrum appeared in the Stationer’s register along with the commemorative sermon John Donne preached for her in Chelsea. None of these works could have been considered as branding Herbert in any way with the “stigma of print,” commemorative pieces being deemed suitable for print, including those written by aristocrats. Furthermore, none of these poems appear as individual works. They are all contributions to collective volumes which are linked to Herbert’s functions at Cambridge, except for the elegies on his mother. In terms of works that would have been destined to a fairly wide scribal type of publication, one should also note his Musae Responsoriae, most probably written in 1620 in response to the first print publication of the Scottish puritan, Andrew Melville’s Anti-tami-cami-categoriae (written in 1603-4). As the new Public Orator of Cambridge, Herbert seems to have taken at heart to defend the rites of the Church England while gaining the attention of his dedicatees, James I, Prince Charles, and Lancelot Andrewes, by then Bishop of Winchester.

  • 37 For further analysis of this aspect see Greg Miller “Self-Parody and Pastoral Praise: George Herber (...)

23Yet, a closer scrutiny of his Memoriae Matris Sacrum, reveals in fact how, at least from 1627 on, Herbert began to part with the common practices of publication of his milieu. Though his elegies stand as an authorized form of public grief, the sequence also speaks, as certain critics have noticed, about Herbert himself. More specifically, they implicitly address the question of Herbert’s “profession” as a poet. Herbert, indeed, proves keen on repeatedly using the pastoral topos which traditionally serves to self-reflexively question one’s identity as a poet37. In epigram II, the author also stresses the fact that his mother, who was gifted in the art of writing, taught him how to write, rendering the expression of his grief legitimate:

  • 38 The text and translation are quoted from Memoriae Matris Sacrum. To the Memory of my Mother: A Cons (...)

Tum quanta tabulis artifex ? quae scriptio ?
Bellum putamen, nucleus bellissimus,
Sententiae cum voce mirè conuenit
Volant per orbem literae notissimae :
O blanda dextra […]. (l. 35-39)
At tu qui ineptè haec dicta censes filio,
Nato parentis auferens Encomium,
Abito, trunce, cum tuis pudoribus.
[…]
Tu verò mater perpetim laudabere
Nato dolente: literae hoc debent tibi
Queîs me educasti ; sponte chartas illinunt
Fructum laborum conscutae maximum
Laudando Matrem, cùm repugnant inscij. (l. 52-54, 61-65)
How great, then, a maker was she
With pen and paper? What was her writing?
A beautiful husk, a kernel most beautiful,
Her sense and sound marvelously aligned,
Her renowned letters fly across the globe:
O alluring right hand […].
But you who judge these improper for a son’s speech,
Depriving a child of the Celebration of a parent,
Shove off, cripple, with your codes and cant.
[…]
You will be praised as a mother truly lastingly
By your mourning child: so much do my letters, by which
You taught me, owe you, they choose to flood the pages
Having chased the ultimate ripeness of their toils
By praising Mother, though the ignorant resist this.38

  • 39 See the commentary in ibid., p. 69.

24Though the last, invective section of the poem questions the appropriateness of Herbert’s public and vehement lament with regards to decorum39, the emphasis he lays on the lineage of “letters” in such a context may also point to the fact that Herbert’s coming of age as a poet implied he had to dissociate from a community he presumably belonged to. In the final epigram of the collection, the poet apostrophizes the muse who had invited him to grieve over his mother’s loss, dismissing his own lines as “vain things”:

  • 40 Poem 19. The text and translation are quoted from ibid.

Excussos manibus calamos, falcémque resumptam
Rure, sibi dixit Musa fuisse probro.
[…]
Eia, agedum scribo : vicisti, Musa; sed audi,
Stulta: semel scribo, perpetuò vt sileam.(l. 1-2, 7-8)
By having flung the pipes from my hands, and picked up the scythe
Again in the field, I had insulted her, the Muse said.
[…]
Come on, I’m writing: you’ve won out, Muse; but listen:
I’m writing these vain things this once, to be still forever.40

  • 41 See Herbert’s will in F. E. Hutchinson’s edition of Herbert’s Works, op. cit., p. 383: “[…] that th (...)

25The final gesture of release hints at the author’s wish to now, reversely, drop the pastoral quill that he held in his hand and pick up instead the scythe of employment, which could involve the act of writing religious verse, but no longer conceived of as an instrument of personal and public mourning, with all the noble self-fashioning such grieving may imply. The fact that Herbert’s Memoriae Matris Sacrum was published in London by the stationer Philemon Stevens, whom Herbert mentions in his will as owing him certain sums of money41 and of whom he may have been thinking as the future printer for his Temple, also suggests that the collection of elegies may have served Herbert to begin to advertise himself as a professional poet.

  • 42 Harold Love, op. cit., p. 39.
  • 43 George Herbert, Works, op. cit., p. 305.

26One can only guess at what Herbert intended to do with his Temple. In his biographical account of Herbert, Izaak Walton is content with recounting that Herbert gave the manuscript of the book to Edmund Duncon just before dying and asked him to carry it to Nicholas Ferrar, thus endowing his Little Gidding friend with the power to become (or not) what Harold Love would call the “initiating agent,” that is the one who “knowingly relinquishes control over the future social use of a text” by letting it out in the public sphere42. One may deduce from Walton’s account that Herbert was unsure to what extent his private, devotional lyrics were appropriate for the printing press. Yet, Herbert probably had little doubt about the course which Walton would chose to follow. The two men had been sharing, for several years already, an epistolary relation geared at serving the efforts of Little Gidding community towards the print publication and larger distribution of worthwhile religious texts. Herbert had been called upon to participate in these developments. Ferrar had in particular asked him to comment upon Juan de Valdes’s One Hundred and Ten Considerations, as well as to translate, for printed publication, Luigi Cornaro’s Treatise on Temperance and Sobriety. In a letter sent to Ferrar about Valdes’s Considerations, Herbert takes a clear stance in favor of its publication: “I would Print it, that with the honour of my Lord might be published”43. Of course, such enthusiasm for printed publication concerns a prose and doctrinal treatise. However, a few more details about the publication of The Temple seem to hint at Herbert’s desire for print in the case of his devotional verse as well.

  • 44 See Daniel Doerksen, Nicholas Ferrar, “Arthur Woodnoth, and the Publication of George Herbert’s The (...)

27First, one must again note the extreme rapidity with which The Temple was licensed and printed. Herbert died in March 1633 and the first edition, set by the Cambridge university printer, Thomas Buck, was ready by September. Secondly, Walton’s version of the history of publication of the Temple runs a little too smoothly. Daniel Doerksen has brought to light a disagreement about the publication of The Temple between Nicholas Ferrar and his cousin Arthur Woodnoth, who was also very implicated in the publication projects of Little Gidding and who happened to be a close friend of Herbert’s as well as the person Herbert had chosen as executor for his will44. Woodnoth strongly believed that Herbert would have preferred to have his book published in London by Philemon Stevens rather than in the Cambridge, High Church setting. Furthermore, he convinced Nicholas Ferrar not to dedicate the Temple to George Herbert’s brother, Edward Herbert, Lord Cherbury, but to write instead a more simple preface that would be in keeping with the author’s wishes. No other patron than God is mentioned in this preface that was written in the selfsame spirit intended by the author:

  • 45 See Hutchison’s edition of George Herbert, Works, op. cit., p. 4.

28The dedication of this work having been made by the Authour to the Divine Majestie onely, how should we now presume to interest any mortall in the patronage of it ? [Much lesse think we it meet to seek the recommendation of the Muses, for that which himself was confident to have been inspired by a diviner breath then flows from Helicon]. The world therefore shall receive it in that naked simplicitie, without any addition either of support or ornament, more then is included in it self. We leave it free and unforestalled to every mans judgement, and to the benefit that he shall finde by perusall.45

29The substitution of “every mans judgement” and “perusal” for “mortall patronage” is particularly striking. It seems to offer an echo to another preface, one that Herbert himself wrote in 1632 to his pastoral manual, The Country Parson, which he quite clearly intended for printed publication even though it was not published until 1652:

  • 46 Ibid., p. 224.

30Being desirous (thorow the Mercy of GOD) to please Him, […] and considering that the way to please him, is to feed my Flocke diligently and faithfully […] I have resolved to set down the Form and Character of a true Pastour, that I may have a mark to aim at […]. The Lord prosper the intention to my selfe, and others, who may not despise my poor labours, but add to those points, which I have observed, untill the Book grow to a compleat Pastorall.46

  • 47 For Heidi Brayman Hackel, who studies marginalia and other traces left by common people, whether me (...)

31It is difficult to imagine the Country Parson becoming every pastor’s manual, without benefiting from the wide distribution of print. Interestingly though, Herbert may be imagining a slightly new process of composition and multiple print publication, since he invites his readership to fully exploit the early modern activity of annotating texts. He simultaneously suggests that these comments may one day become part of a “compleat Pastorall.” In The Temple, Herbert alludes to a variety of similar early modern “scribbling” practices, to use a term favored by Heidi Breyman Hackle47. In the previously quoted and revealingly entitled “Posie,” for example, Herbert refers to his motto “Less the least of God’s mercies” and its scribbling on objects of domestic life, as well as on walls or the books he possesses: “This on my ring, / This by my picture, in my book I write” (l. 5-6). What is interesting in this case, is that these inscriptions, which were commonly enlarged on walls, are projected onto a smaller space of paper, that of the pages of his duedicimo bound manuscript, before being reproduced in printed form in the same format.

  • 48 George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie [1589], London, Scolar Press, Menston, 1969, p. 48.

32Much has been said about Herbert’s pattern poems and much less about those of his pieces which could precisely be labeled as “posies.” “Posies,” as opposed to the generic and more lofty “poesie,” were very short pieces or epigrams which, in Puttenham’s definition, “neuer contained aboue one verse, or two at the most” and were painted “vpon the backe sides of our fruite trenchers of wood, or […] as deuises in rings and armes and about such courtly purpose”48. A number of pieces, appearing for the most part only in the later, revised version of the Temple, take on the form of slightly extended posies. Short pieces such as “Anagram,” “JESU,” and “Love-joy” bespeak as much as the pattern poems Herbert’s taste not only for the visual, iconic value of the written word but also for its integrity. Interestingly, all of these “posies” stage a form of continuity between the body, be it that of Mary, Christ, or the Church, and the word. In “Love-joy” the lesson the main speaker receives from the typical friendly interlocutor in the art of “spelling,” to be understood in the seventeenth-century sense of elementary reading, also involves a quest for meaning and enables to give iconic and nearly fleshy existence to the letters the speaker sees in a church-window:

As on a window late I cast mine eye,
I saw a vine drop grapes with J and C
Anneal’d on every bunch. One standing by
Ask’d what it meant. I (who am never loth
To spend my iudgement) said, It seem’d to me
To be the bodie and the letters both
Of Joy and Charitie. Sir, you have not miss’d,
The man reply’d; It figures JESUS CHRIST.

33Herbert’s joint concern for “spelling” and for forms of bodily integrity are expressed again in his pastoral manual. He stresses how vital it is that the pastor teach all of his household, including his servants, how to read. Part of his function also consists in assuring members of his household and his parish with physical and psychological well-being. He devises “home-bred” herbal medicines and uses the written word of God to heal those tortured with melancholy, despair, or atheism. Herbert’s experience as a country parson, one may believe, thus led him to value more than before the culture of print and the possibilities it contained for a better distribution of the curative word. It seems that he grew to accept that his own private, devotional verse could serve a similar purpose. His exclamation in one of his earlier poems, “O write in brasse” (“Unkindnesse,” l. 22), introducing another “posie” within the “poesie,” testifies to his will to retain something of God’s presence through an indelible form of writing:

O write in brasse, My God upon a tree
His bloud did spill
Onely to purchase my good-will:
Yet use I not my foes, as I use thee.

34The poets outcry, however, can also be read as foreshadowing his acceptance of the printed form, brass serving, as copper, for the reproduction of images and title pages in print in the seventeenth century.

35In the later poems of The Temple, such as “The Odour, 2. Cor. 2.,” the poetical word becomes a savory analog for the elements of the Eucharist and their characteristic “sweetnesse.” The poet delights in the simple repetition of the words “My Master” which contain “a sweet” and even constitute in themselves “[a]n orientall fragrancie.” “This new commerce,” the speaker decides, by which he reenacts the reciprocal, loving call between master and servant, “[s]hould all [his] life employ, and busie [him]” (l. 4, 5, 29-30). Through the infinite duplication of the scriptural word, signaled from the start by the reference to Corinthians in the title of the poem, Herbert swaps more definitively than ever an aesthetics founded on images of solitary or competitive writing of ink, blood and tears, for a Biblical and Eucharistic image of distribution and “mend[ed]” (l. 17) forms. His vocation as a churchman, it seems, helped him redefine his own poetics, not as an imitative art, but as a distributive art.

36The diffuse alteration that can be noted between the two versions of The Temple bespeaks Herbert’s Calvinist understanding of Christ’s crucifixion as a unique form of sacrifice that can in no way be “copied” by man’s works or the penitent poet’s plume. Yet, it is also significant to see that in moving away from a competitive and imitative conception of man’s relationship to God, the poet simultaneously distances himself from the practices of coterie poetry based on spirited emulation that were common in the Herbert-Sidney circle he came from. Herbert refuses to keep on playing the game of social, poetical rivalry. Nor does he, in the end, have recourse to discreet pieces as means of churchly advancement in the manner of John Donne. This is evidenced by the particular attention he himself gave to the unity of his Temple. Though he chose not to become the “initiating agent” of his own work (or perhaps never had the time to do so), it appears that he must have deliberately planned for his work to be printed and widely distributed. Herbert trades in the witty answer-poem of the aristocratic circles for the more humble “posie,” whose office is to be repeated endlessly and to signal God’s imprint on a broader audience of readers. This shift could only be made possible if Herbert willingly forsook the pen of scribal publication in favor of print, if he accepted, in other words, that his acts of writing were no longer his and served another purpose than his own interests. The very structure of Herbert’s Temple, composed, at the end, of a long, narrative poem on the progress of religion and sin, entitled “The Church Militant,” sends out his private pieces to the world and makes his work enter a more public, non-selective space. This last section of The Temple was probably written in the early 1620s since it contains references to the Virginia Company in which Herbert’s step-father, John Danvers, his friend Nicholas Ferrar, as well as the 3rd earl of Pembroke were engaged, and whose project of Christian colonizing Herbert apparently celebrates. By the time Herbert finished revising his Temple, the Virginia Company’s activity had seriously declined. With this failure in mind, Herbert perhaps hoped of his future printed poems that they might become, thanks to the increasing practice of silent reading across the social spectrum he himself was dedicated to promoting as a parish pastor, a means to secure a more quiet and effective form of Christian imperialism.

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Notes

1 Helen Wilcox in her introduction to her edition of The English Poems of George Herbert, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2007, p. xxiii.

2 On the topic of the different modes of scribal and printed publication, see the seminal works of Harold Love, Scribal Publication in Seventeenth-Century England, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1993, and Arthur F. Marotti, Manuscript, Print, and the English Renaissance Lyric, Ithaca, New York, Cornell University Press, 1994. In the case of Philip Sidney, see also H. R. Woudhuysen’s Sir Philip Sidney and the Circulation of Manuscripts, 1558-1640, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1996.

3 See Herbert’s second 1610 sonnet to his mother, l. 11. Herbert’s English verse will be quoted throughout in Helen Wilcox’s edition. See note 1 for reference.

4 A term favored by both authors when referring to the poetical art of mimesis.

5 Philip Sidney’s text will be quoted throughout in William A. Ringler’s edition, The Poems of Sir Philip Sidney, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1962.

6 See also sonnets 19 and 28 for the expression of a similar idea.

7 Izaak Walton, The Life of Mr George Herbert, in George Herbert, The Complete English Poems, John Tobin (ed.), London, Penguin, 1991, p. 311. Izaak Walton’s version is corroborated by (and may have been based on) John Ferrar’s own account of George Herbert’s will at his death: “And when Mr Herbert dy’d, he recommended only of all his Papers, that of his Divine Poems, & willed it to be delivered into the hands of his brother N. F. appointing him to be the Midwife, to bring that piece into the World, If he so thought good of it, else to [burn it].” See John Ferrar’s A Life of Nicholas Ferrar, in Bernard Blackstone (ed.), The Ferrars Papers, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1938, p. 59.

8 The expression is borrowed from Marotti, Manuscript, Print, and the English Renaissance Lyric, op. cit., p. 160.

9 In her edition of Herbert’s poems, Helen Wilcox notes that “pull for Prime” is a “phrase used in the card game ‘primero’, in which ‘Prime’ was won by a combination of cards in different suits. The phrase therefore implies gambling for a winning position,” op. cit., p. 203.

10 See, in particular, ch. 2 “George Herbert and Coterie Poetry,” in Cristina Malcolmson, Heart-Work: George Herbert and the Protestant Ethic, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1999, p. 46-68. This aspect of Herbert’s poetry is further developed in Malcolmson’s biography of Herbert: George Herbert: A Literary Life, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

11 See Arthur F. Marotti, John Donne, Coterie Poet, Madison, Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin Press, 1986, p. 245 and ff. in particular. Marotti calls attention to the fact that John Donne’s religious verse preceding his ordination was fundamentally coterie poetry, that it went through the same processes of transmission as his elegies and satires, and that it was used to win him patronage. For further reference to Marotti’s work, see below, p. 6.

12 Philip Sidney, An Apology for Poetry [1595], Geoffrey Shepherd (ed.), London, Thomas Nelson, 1965, p. 99-100.

13 I am particularly indebted to Christine Sukic’s forthcoming article on “Sir Philip Sidney et l’ars poetica maniériste” (“Sir Philip Sidney and the mannerist ars poetica”) here and thank her for sharing her work with me.

14 Philip Sidney, An Apology, op. cit, p. 53.

15 By “earlier” poems, I refer here both to poems that appear towards the beginning of the sequence and to poems that are most probably of an earlier date of composition. See below.

16 William Alabaster, The Sonnets of William Alabaster, G. M. Story and Helen Gardner (eds), Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1959.

17 The quote is taken from one of his “Penitential Sonnets,” sonnet 16 in ibid.

18 “The Sponge,” l. 11-14, sonnet 24 in ibid.

19 Claudine Raynaud, “‘Blood, Ink, and Sin’: Writing Sacrifice in The Temple,” QWERTY, 1997, p. 39-49, here p. 39.

20 The reference is of course to Stanley E. Fish’s Self-Consuming artifacts, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1975.

21 Herbert never explicitly calls himself or his speaker a “poet” in his works, holding himself voluntarily aloof from Philip Sidney’s humanist definition of the “Maker” and subsequent faith in his powers. In an introductory poem entitled “Superliminare” he favors instead the term “verser.” For a more in-depth analysis of the choice of this term, see Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise, Le Verbe fait image, Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2010, p. 195-206, and more particularly p. 202.

22 Cristina Malcolmson, Heart-Work, op. cit., p. 88.

23 For a definition and classification of seventeenth-century answer-poems, see E. F. Hart, “The Answer-Poem of the Early Seventeenth Century,” The Review of English Studies, New Series, 7:25 (1956), p. 19-29. The best known example of an answer-poem is Sir Walter Raleigh’s “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd,” written in response to Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.” Answer-poems were very often set to music and sung together with their models.

24 Ibid., p. 9.

25 Arthur Marotti, op. cit., p. 246.

26 Ibid., p. 245.

27 See John Donne, The Divine Poems, Helen Gardner (ed.), Oxford, Clarendon, 1952.

28 Though Donne wrote religious verse after taking orders, only “A Hymn to God my God, in my Sicknesse,” and perhaps “A Hymne to God the Father,” were composed after Donne became Dean of St Paul’s.

29 See David Novarr, The Disinterred Muse: Donne’s Texts and Contexts, Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 1980, p. 157.

30 Quoted by F. E. Hutchinson in his introduction to his edition of George Herbert, The Works of George Herbert, Oxford, Clarendon, 1941, p. xl.

31 Philip Herbert succeeded to the 3rd Earl upon the latter’s death on 10 April 1630, six days before King Charles I presented George to the vacant living in Bemerton.

32 Cristinia Malcolmson, op. cit., p. 117.

33 Ibid., p. 114.

34 See Richard Strier, “Lyric Poetry From Donne to Philips,” in James Shapiro (ed.), The Columbia History of British Poetry, New York, Columbia University Press, 1994, p. 229-253.

35 Greg Miller, George Herbert’s “Holy Patterns”: Reforming Individuals in Community, New York and London, Continuum, 2007, p. 39, 43. The whole chapter “Scribal and Print Publication” is of particular interest here.

36 Ibid., p. 51.

37 For further analysis of this aspect see Greg Miller “Self-Parody and Pastoral Praise: George Herbert’s Memoriae Matris Sacrum,” George Herbert Journal, 26, 2002/2003, p. 15-34 and Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise, “George Herbert’s Distemper: An Honest Shepherd’s Remedy to Melancholy,” George Herbert Journal 30, 2006/2007, p. 59-82.

38 The text and translation are quoted from Memoriae Matris Sacrum. To the Memory of my Mother: A Consecrated Gift, Catherine Freis, Richard Freis, and Greg Miller (eds and trans.), George Herbert Journal, Special Studies and Monographs, 2012. I am particularly grateful to Greg Miller for sharing a section of his work with me before the actual publication of this new, valuable translation.

39 See the commentary in ibid., p. 69.

40 Poem 19. The text and translation are quoted from ibid.

41 See Herbert’s will in F. E. Hutchinson’s edition of Herbert’s Works, op. cit., p. 383: “[…] that there are diuers moneys of mine in Mr Stephens hands Stationer of London, having lately receaved an hvndred and two pounds besides some Remainders of monyes wherof he is to giue as I know he will a Just account.”

42 Harold Love, op. cit., p. 39.

43 George Herbert, Works, op. cit., p. 305.

44 See Daniel Doerksen, Nicholas Ferrar, “Arthur Woodnoth, and the Publication of George Herbert’s The Temple, 1633,” George Herbert Journal 3, 1979/1980, p. 22-44.

45 See Hutchison’s edition of George Herbert, Works, op. cit., p. 4.

46 Ibid., p. 224.

47 For Heidi Brayman Hackel, who studies marginalia and other traces left by common people, whether merchants, servants, or gentlewomen, the early modern period could precisely be called a “scribbling age”. See her Reading Material in Early Modern England: Print, Gender, and Literacy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004.

48 George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie [1589], London, Scolar Press, Menston, 1969, p. 48.

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Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise, « “O write in brasse”: George Herbert’s trajectory from pen to print », Études Épistémè [En ligne], 21 | 2012, mis en ligne le 01 avril 2012, consulté le 16 octobre 2017. URL : http://episteme.revues.org/402 ; DOI : 10.4000/episteme.402

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Auteur

Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise

Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise is a senior lecturer at the University of the Sorbonne / Paris IV, where she teaches British literature and literary translation. She is the author of several articles on metaphysical poetry and on Mary Sidney’s translation of the psalms. She has published a book on George Herbert’s use of Incarnation theology in the shaping of a new poetic language, entitled Le Verbe fait image (Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2010). She is currently working as co-editor on an anthology of European baroque poetry.

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