Easter Wings

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The poem "Easter Wings" by George Herbert is a poem full

of deep imagery not only in its words but also in the visual

structure of the stanzas. In Herbert's poem why does he use

a shape poem? Because he wanted this poem to have many

different levels and meanings. Herbert also used huge

amounts of mental imagery so that the reader can find new

truths and meanings each time he or she reads it. The poem

tells of the poets desire to fly with Christ as a result of Jesus'

sacrifice, death and resurrection. The argument as to the

proper presentation of this poem is easily explained with the

help of the poet's address to the "Lord" in the opening line of

the first page in the original text. Because this poem is

actually a work within a work with many hidden meanings

and suggestions. To fully understand it all, one must examine

the poem as a whole in greater detail. The poet is the

obvious speaker in the poem due to the common use of "I"

and "me" through out the poem. The audience is also

revealed in the first line of the 1634 edition of the poem with

the use of the word "Lord"; meaning the Christian Savior,

Jesus Christ who rose from the dead. But there is question

as to where the poem truly begins. This is due to the splitting

of the poem onto two separate pages, and then turned ninety

degrees so it must be read sideways. This is done on

purpose to invoke the vision of wings on both pages. This

fact must be considered when evaluating where it begins and

whether it is in fact two poems instead of one larger one.

"Lord, who createth man in wealth and store" is the

beginning of this poem, helping to immediately establish the

audience in the first word. As well, this fact help to reveal

that this poem is also a prayer of Herbert's. The appropriate

layout of the poem is still the "winged" look necessary for the

full impact of the imagery. It is the imagery in this poem that

deserves special notice as it gives a much deeper

understanding of what Herbert is saying. The first stanza

shows the fall of man from the "wealth" that is in God's

holiness into the "decaying" life of a sinful nature:

"Lord, who createst man in wealth and store,

Though foolishly he lost the same,

Decaying more and more

Till he became

Most poor:"

As the stanza's lines "decays" in length, the imagery goes

from good to bleak finally ending with the eventual poorness

of mankind. In the first line where it shows how man was

born into abundance with full potential. Yet somehow

managed to abuse this potential in habitual sin and so abuse

the gift that God had bestowed upon us. As one reads the

first stanza, one feels it dwindle and wither away into

nothingness; this verse does, indeed, decrease both in

emotion and context. At first reading this poem you may not

see the complex correlation between the shape and the

actual meaning of the poem. Herbert intended this in his

poem probably to attach a reader to his poem to find the

true meaning as to why this poem was in this shape and has

lines large in size and then they decline. But then the emotion

in the poem picks up steam again in the next stanza and

gains the size and exact structure the first stanza but in

opposite order, from small to large. The second stanza of

the poem is turning in emotion and finishing with the poet

taking "flight" and completing the second wing:

"With thee

O let me rise

As larks, harmoniously,

And sing this day thy victories:

Then shall the fall further the flight in me."

This stanza is rich in imagery. It seems like this stanza "beats

its wing" against the decline of the first stanza, showing how

the "fall" of man "furthered the flight" in Herbert as it paved

the way for the crucifixion of Jesus. It was this action which

redeemed man so they could have fellowship with God...
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