The Collar by George Herbert

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George Herbert throughout his poem “The Collar” puts his thoughts, feelings and complaints on paper on freedom restrictions. He resolves to break free from the binds fastening him to the life he fights to be free from. In various ways, countless things hold down and confine us from doing certain things daily. All the way through history people fought for the rights that tied them down for what they believed in. Herbert explains in his poem that one requires some restrictions even if we cannot understand the motive behind it.

As used in the context, a collar is a band of some sort of material used to seize or detain animals or people. Since George placed this word in the heading, it must contain the meaning for the entire poem. Religion had a vast impact in Herbert’s life. In the last years of his life, Herbert wrote a series of poems called “The Temple” which included “The Collar” (Moore). Herbert was born in Montgomery Wales during the year 1593 and appointed an Anglican priest in the year 1930 (Jokinen). These last three years of his life, he spent much time working in the temple and his life in the temple inspired Herbert to write the poem “The Collar.” Priests used to wear a certain collar at their work in the church. Today, those collars resemble collars restraining dogs. However, these collars also represented Herbert’s service to the Lord. Herbert is saying that this job as a priest was tying him down from everyday life. He considered himself a foreigner in the wrong place working in the temple. Rebelling, Herbert writes, “I struck the board and cried, No more; I will abroad! (396).” To be abroad means going to or being in a foreign place. George was tired of feeling as a stranger and being tied down to a place wher...

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...ow. George Herbert successfully redeems this fact with his writing. Even if he wants to do something else and will “freely” be allowed to follow this path, he knows there is authority over him that put his life in order of how it should be. George Herbert, a seventeenth century poet, wrote “The Collar” as a complaint, a rebellious act, but knows that he is powerless under higher authority and can only submit to their will.

Works Cited

Herbert, George. "The Collar." Literature The Human Experience. Compiled. Richard Abcarian, Marvin Klotz, Samuel Kohen. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2010. Print.

Jokinen, Anniina. "An Outline of Herbert's Life." George Herbert (1592-1633). Luminarium: Anthropology of English Literature, 08 Nov 2010. Web. 28 Jan 2011.

Moore, Andrew. "George Herbert -Study Guide.", May 2005. Web. 29 Feb 2011

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