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Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert
 
 

Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert [Kindle Edition]

John Drury
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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Review

Incomparable. Drury triumphantly delivers the goods ... artfully weaving the poetry through the life (Diarmaid MacCulloch Daily Telegraph)

Excellent, captivating, full of moving detail. A terrific book about a remarkable poet (Sally Vickers Independent)

Dazzling (David Grylls Sunday Times)

Product Description

George Herbert wrote, but never published, some of the very greatest English poetry, recording in an astonishing variety of forms his inner experiences of grief, recovery, hope, despair, anger, fulfilment and - above all else - love.



He was born in 1593 and died at the age of 39 in 1633, before the clouds of civil war gathered, his family aristocratic and his upbringing privileged. He showed worldly ambition and seemed sure of high public office and a career at court, but then for a time 'lost himself in a humble way', devoting himself to the restoration of the church at Leighton Bromswold in Buckinghamshire and then to his parish of Bemerton, three miles from Salisbury, whose cathedral music he called 'my heaven on earth'. When in the year of his death his friend Nicholas Ferrar, leader of the quasi-monastic community at Little Gidding, published Herbert's poems under the title The Temple, his fame was quickly established.



Because he published no English poems during his lifetime, and dating most of them exactly is impossible, writing Herbert's biography is an unusual challenge. In this book John Drury sets the poetry in the whole context of the poet's life and times, so that the reader can understand the frame of mind and kind of society which produced it, and depth can be added to the narrative of Herbert's life. (T.S. Eliot: 'What we can confidently believe is that every poem in the book [The Temple] is in tune to the poet's experience.') His Herbert is not the saintly figure who has come down to us from John Aubrey, but a man torn for much of his life between worldly ambition and the spiritual life shown to us so clearly through his writings. The result is the most satisfying biography of this exceptional English poet yet written.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 28162 KB
  • Print Length: 395 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (29 Aug 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FYRUAPE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #73,151 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So I did sit and read 4 Oct 2013
By Sabina
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
John Drury tells us that Simone Weil considered Herbert's poem 'Love III' (Love bade me welcome...) to be the most beautiful poem in the world. It is the work of a man, he says, "who valued common experience, common sense and courtesy so highly as to collect 1,184 proverbs - at the same time a mystic for whom the actuality of immediate religious experience mattered intensely, and more than orthodox doctrine".
In this inspiring biography Drury balances and integrates the known details of George Herbert's life, with a welcome commentary on his poems. Herbert's English poems were not published till after his death at age 39. And what a collection. He handed the poems over saying that "the picture of the many spiritual conflicts that have passed betwixt God and my soul..." could be considered for publication if they "may turn to the advantage of any dejected poor soul," (and burnt, if not).
Herbert came from a distinguished family. His mother Magdalen, left widowed with numerous children, married a man 20 years her junior and created 'a salon of witty conversation' at their house in Charing Cross. She was lauded by many talented people, including John Donne. Young George's love of music was enhanced by guests such as William Byrd and John Bull.

George became the public orator at Cambridge, and placated King James with his rhetoric. He wrestled with his own attraction towards academic success and a vocation as a priest, an unusual choice then for a man of his noble background. His health was not good. Poems such as 'Affliction' express his bitter-sweet ambivalence towards the achievements and circumstances of life, his rebellion and bafflement with God, and his love. He enjoyed 3 happy years of married life.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful life of a very great poet 21 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An outstandingly well written and sympathetic life of one of our greatest poets, showing how his life and his faith and his poetry form one complex unity. Drury writes with the same subtle simplicity as does Herbert himself. A must.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth taking a chance 8 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For general reader or academic this is an excellent introduction to George Herbert. It sets the poems in the context, so far as possible, of his life and discusses his writings in detail. Academics might sometimes find the glosses on technical terms irritating but the general reader may be grateful for the enlightenment. Drury's discussion of the poems is illuminating and enriches our experience and understanding. Even those who normally are turned off by poetry in general or religious poetry in particular will enjoy this insight into Jacobean life and literature
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Treasure at Midnight! 6 Oct 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This exceptional work is detailed, interesting and explained in such a way that both the scholar and the general reader can take benefit of the author's deep knowledge. Not only is the content of the best, but so is the style. It has been a great pleasure to read.
Having bought it at the pre-publication price and thinking I had a bargain, I found that I would happily have paid over the price, for I now have a treasure.

Richard.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyable biography 1 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Biography did I say? Well George Herbert lived a very uneventful life and died at forty. John Drury's solution is to concentrate on the poems, and this is as much a biography of the poetry as the man. But it works well. Drury is an academic who clearly loves the poems and can write well. The book is certainly not an academic tome and the poems are extremely sympathetically discussed. If you like poetry, whether you know much about Herbert or not, this is a very recommendable book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The sacred and profane in one man. 18 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
George Herbert began as a materially ambitious civil servant with all the intellectual skills at his fingertips. But in the end he rejected the Faustian contact with the devil of pride and became an unselfish poet whose words have comforted down the ages in his hymns and psalms; he found peace at last and offers it to us.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A wonderful exposition of Herbert's life and times. Great insights into the poems with lots of quotations and technical analysis.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book 8 Oct 2013
By Geoff
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Herbert is a model for poetry and priesthood, the book dips slightly after his death, a chapter on poets not as good as him is not really necessary
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
As advertised
Published 11 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
All fine - thank you.
Published 16 days ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars ... as much about his poetry as I would have liked.
Not as much about his poetry as I would have liked.
Published 3 months ago by sarummichael
4.0 out of 5 stars Engagingly written
It is perhaps unlikely that anyone who does not know Herbert's poetry would read this, but the combination of biography and analysis of the poetry makes this both an introduction... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Lwax
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A lovely read - inspiring.
Published 3 months ago by Elizabeth Henley
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent biography of a poet I knew some thing about
An excellent biography of a poet I knew some thing about, but this despite a tricky start pulled all kinds os threads together, highly recommend although quite an academic read.
Published 4 months ago by antmo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
wonderful!
Published 5 months ago by Anne
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Great subject matter, diabolical author, very tedious reading. Also don't agree with Drury's interpritation of Herbert's 'Love lll'
Published 5 months ago by John I
5.0 out of 5 stars ...and thus the heav'n espy
I'm with the preceding 5-star reviews. Drury wears his scholarship lightly, but he combines the (largely, admittedly) second-hand historical setting and biography with a... Read more
Published 8 months ago by J. S. Atherton
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough
V interesting and illuminating. Excellent cricitism of the poems and sympathetic portrait of the man. Also overview of the period good. Read more
Published 8 months ago by teacher
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