The Flowers By George Herbert Essay

The Flowers By George Herbert Essay

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A flower is delicate, a lovely sprig of life that dies all too quickly. It is by no means a permanent beauty; compared to humans, the lifespan of any flower is pitifully short. Yet it is a flower with which George Herbert compares humanity, a frail little blossom. “My shriveled heart... was gone / quite underground; as flowers depart / to see their mother-root, when they have blown” (lines 8-11). Every autumn, the flowers die and retreat underground, and every spring new seeds burst from the frozen ground, growing and blossoming into a new season of flowers. This cycle of nature represents a Christian 's spiritual walk, too, outlining the springs and winters of faith. As Herbert describes his spiritual life in terms of the seasons, he has hope that even as winter always becomes spring, so his worldly trials will eventually come to an end.
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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