Learn more Download now Shop now Shop now flip flip flip Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more

on 4 October 2013
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. The maps which John Drury provides enhance our ability to place Herbert in Westminster, Cambridge , Montgomery, Wiltshire - where he settled with his bride at the rectory of Bemerton Church. There are rich descriptions of the life around Herbert, without those endless speculative ifs, maybes and woulds, which some biographies are filled with. Many poets were inspired by Herbert's work in the generations which followed. There is a chapter on 'Heirs and Imitators', and one about "Herbert's Readers." There were varying views. Anyone reading this enlightening biography will have the opportunity to read, or re-read many of the poems, and make up their own mind. Highly recommended.
45 people found this helpful
|44 Comments|Report abuse
on 21 September 2013
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.
21 people found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 1 June 2014
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.
5 people found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 7 September 2014
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 to the poet's work and a comprehensive look at his life and times. It is readable, well illustrated and sets Herbert within his social and religious context engagingly. There is also much about Donne and other contemporaries for those interested in or studying the Metaphysicals.
2 people found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 9 February 2014
This is the best biography of Herbert I have read, and the best explanation of why he is one of the truly great English poets. I particularly enjoyed Drury's deep analysis of certain key poems of his, relating them to the man's character and life without straining for some obscure biographical connection. If you know and love Herbert already, this is essential reading; if you have yet to discover him, this could be the place to start.
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 18 May 2014
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.
3 people found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 30 May 2015
Very welcome and readable account, sets Herbert's poetry and life into context with each other. Full of insights and enrichment.
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 17 April 2014
V interesting and illuminating. Excellent cricitism of the poems and sympathetic portrait of the man. Also overview of the period good. I have loved the poems for a long time and this biograpical approach has added to my appreciation.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 13 January 2016
An absolutely wonderful book. I've given it as presents to 2 friends and still haven't finished it as every sentence has to be savoured.
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 5 February 2018
Excellent book.
|0Comment|Report abuse