Love (III)

Love (III) Study Guide

Love (III)” is the final poem in George Herbert’s 1633 volume The Temple, Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations. In this volume, "Love (I)" discusses the difference between divine and mortal love, while "Love (II)" prays to God for the speaker to experience divine love. "Love (III)" continues in this sequence, describing the speaker’s encounter with divine love.

Framed as a conversation, this poem shows the speaker in dialogue with a personification of God, called in the poem both “Love” and “Lord.” The speaker believes he is unworthy to speak or interact with Love, and Love seeks to convince him of his worth. Under Love’s instruction, the speaker ultimately complies, experiencing divine love.

Herbert's contemporary editor Helen Wilcox notes that this is one of Herbert's most famous poems. It is known as a well-crafted lyric, yet because it is a dialogue, it also innovates the form. As the final poem in Herbert's only volume of poetry, its final line has special significance, as it seems to sum up Herbert's view on Christianity. Scholars still debate the poem's erotic undertones and commentary on Christianity.