George Herbert: Poems

George Herbert: Poems Character List

The Lord

God, referred to throughout the poems of The Temple also as “The Lord,” appears in many poems, and in many guises: the disciplinarian who seems indifferent to his servants’ suffering in “Affliction (I),” the pragmatist of “The Pulley,” and the infinitely loving partner in “Clasping of Hands.” While in some of these poems God causes pain, in “Clasping of Hands,” for example, the Lord is described as offering something in return for the speaker's devotion: infinite love.

The speaker

Most of Herbert’s poems have a clear first-person speaker. Following the subtitle of the book, “private ejaculations,” one might view this as the same speaker throughout The Temple, or as Herbert himself. When viewed as the utterances of a single speaker, the book as a whole can be shown to narrate one man’s religious experience: through periods of doubt and despair towards a deeper understanding of God.