George Herbert: Poems

A Time for Preparation College

A Time for Preparation

Cemeteries (and other places of burial) are terrestrial sanctuaries for the fragile remains of one’s mortal existence. Wandering these grounds can be a peaceful and hallowing experience. Some individuals speak to the graves and if one listens carefully, they may hear them whisper back. In Herbert’s poem, Church Monuments, which could act as a verse-like prayer, the speaker feels at peace in such an environment as he contemplates his own death while strolling through his sacred future burial ground. Among various religions and in the Bible, we can find parallels to this poem.

This poem has 24 lines, which could parallel the 24 hours that are in a day. This is significant to the poem due to the importance of passing time and the temporal state of the body in mortality. It says in Ecclesiastes 12:7 that the body is a temporary vessel for the spirit before it returns again to God. As time passes, the body wears thin, yet remains firmly attached to the soul within it.

The first three lines of the first stanza present the two main themes of the poem: religious devotion and the symbiosis between body and soul. We are then introduced to the speaker. He appears to be an old man preparing for his soul’s journey...

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