George Herbert: Poems

Why do you think Herbert decided to arrange The Altar in the shape of an altar? What effect does this leave?

The Altar by George Herber

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I am not overly familiar with this work, thus, if the one below doesn't help you, please re-post your question. This is the information I have located. Its source is cited in the source box.

One definition of the word 'altar' in the Oxford English Dictionary is 'a metrical address or dedication, fancifully written or printed in the form of an altar' and although this definition of the word is first used around 1680 (fifty years after the publication of The Temple), it is likely that Herbert's poem 'The Altar' gave rise to it. By constructing the poem in the shape of an altar Herbert mirrors the work of God as creator: as God created the physical world and everything in it, Herbert creates an echo of the physical world through his concrete poem. However, the altar of the poem is not restricted to a literal sense: the altar, we are told, is 'made of a heart and cemented with teares'. In one of Paul's letters to the Corinthians he writes 'know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost' (1 Corinthians 6:19), a sentiment which Herbert literalizes in this poem: if the body is a temple, or church, the Altar would be approximately where the heart is. Although this is perhaps being too literal, Herbert clearly wishes to emphasise the metaphor of the body as a place of worship: the poem repeatedly refers to parts of the body, from the 'hand', to the 'heart'.