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Essay about Conflict and Resolution in Herbert's Discipline

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Conflict and Resolution in Herbert's Discipline  


    George Herbert’s struggle to be humble enough to fully accept God’s undying love can be located within each of his poems. The way in which Herbert conveys this conflict is by utilizing structure as well as metaphysical techniques. This combination of literary devices creates a physical reality that allows Herbert, or the poetic speaker, to “make his feelings immediately present” (245). These devices, at first, appear to be artificial and contradictory to the poet’s goal of making God’s word visible. Instead, literary techniques, for Herbert, help to emphasize how God controls everything from daily life to literature. Therefore, Herbert believes he is not the sole author of his writing; rather, he is an instrument of God chosen to write down poetry praising Him. Herbert battles with this idea as he must refuse the pride that comes with being the author of such beautiful devotional and metaphysical poetry. If Herbert were to give into this “temptation of success” (243), he would be giving himself up to sin and thus rejecting God’s love. This process of rejecting and accepting, or of “conflict and resolution” (243), is done throughout “The Temple,” which leads Herbert to an ultimate acceptance of God and to an “achieved character of humility, tenderness, moral sensitiveness” (249).

    Some of Herbert’s struggles to attain enlightenment can be seen in the poem “Discipline” in which the poetic speaker begs God to give up his “wrath” (2) and, instead, be more “gentle” (4) when judging man. The speaker wants God’s punishments to be lessened. The speaker, who could quite possibly be Herbert, wants this because he fears that God’s “rod” (1) or “wrath” (2) will be imposed up...


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... tight, and symbolic of the unity that God can create. The structure of “Discipline” is exactly like this; it is neat, orderly, and like the poem’s title, disciplined. For instance, the rhyme scheme stays the same throughout the poem. This discipline mimics the order that God creates in the world. Therefore, the poem is just one of God’s many creations.

    “Discipline” hence shows the struggles both the poetic speaker and Herbert face when trying to understand God’s love. These conflicts are humanized by Herbert’s employment of metaphysical devices. This humanization allows him to reach a larger audience as most people can relate to the conflict of understanding God’s compassion. Thus, “Discipline” is part of Herbert and the speaker’s process of accepting God as one must experience both “conflict and resolution” in order to receive and understand God’s love.


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