George Herbert: Poems

Emotion and Religious Urgency in "Denial" 12th Grade

In ‘Denial’, George Herbert presents a narrator appealing to God to help him reconfigure a disordered mindset, and yet the form of monologue is used to imply that there is little hope that the narrator’s pleas will be answered, hinting at his fate to remain ever-alone. Through use of simile, the poet suggests that the speaker’s psyche and physicality must be repaired by God, and the desperate appeals throughout the poem work to convey the increasing alarm of the speaker in his belief that he cannot carry on his life without divine assistance.

Herbert’s use of direct address helps foreground the narrator’s desire for spiritual reconciliation with his God. Such desire is made apparent in the exclamative used to address God: ‘Come, come, my God, O come!’. The repeated verb and positioning of the phrase in at the heart of the stanzas suggests that God’s absence is the primary source of the narrator’s suffering, and use of possessive pronoun dramatises the narrator’s attempt to regain a personal and individual spirituality rather than appeal to abstract religious entities, which finds further grounding in the opening lines ‘When my devotions could not pierce/ Thy silent ears’, in which the perfect masculine rhyme between personal...

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