The vivid imagery of this poem lends itself to the idea of a cyclical spiritual life, that earthly trials and troubles are only temporary. “The Flower” begins in spring, when “grief melts away / like snow in May, / as if there were no such cold thing” (5-7). When the sunshine melts away the last remains of winter 's snow, the air is fresh and warm, and all the world comes alive again, it is easy to forget that winter ever happened. In the midst of spring, the cold snows of the long and bitter winter are but a memory, endured and now forgotten. Even as spring erases the memory of winter, so a spiritual spring makes the winter seem void. When the Lord rains blessings on his children, when his presence can be tangibly felt, when all of life makes sense, then the winter of doubting his goodness seems impossibly far away. Doubt slips away “as if there were no such cold thing” (7).
But spring nev...
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...age found in Isaiah.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever. (Isa. 40:7-8)
All grass withers, all flowers fall, and all humans die, but the word of God remains steadfast and strong, a reliable source and a faithful guide.
Even as a flower 's lifespan is pitifully short in comparison to humanity, so a human 's lifespan is like nothing when compared to eternity. “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (Jas. 4:14), and after vanishing, all humans will enter eternity, whether it be in the garden of Paradise with the Lord, or in hell, eternally separated from all goodness and light. George Herbert has hope because he knows where he will spend eternity.
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