ENG113 M/W/F 8:30
Diction, Imagery, and Figurative Language in Herbert’s “Virtue”
The beauty and goodness of creation often overwhelms us with awe because it is a mirror of the goodness and supremacy of the Creator. George Herbert’s “Virtue” emphasizes the spiritual truth that this world and life itself is beautiful. However, despite its beauty all of creation will come to a fiery end which will leave us to face eternity. George Herbert was a brilliant poet who expressed his religious beliefs and convictions through poetry. In his poem “Virtue” he uses colorful diction, powerful imagery, and surprising metaphors as a means of establishing the theme: life is short but our souls will remain forever.
The first stanza of “Virtue” is referring to a beautiful sunny day. “Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,” (line 1) is a line that takes us inwardly to a perfect spring afternoon where all is good. Herbert makes the wonderful comparison between day and the virtuous soul. He describes the day as something tranquil and brilliant and then compares it to the marriage between a man and a woman. “The bridal of the earth and sky;” (line 2) However, we are then impacted with the spiritual truth that even this will all fade away. Herbert uses personification to usher in a more emotional context by saying “The dew shall weep thy fall to-night” (Line 3) because the day must come to an end which is a metaphor of death. The poem continues with the comparison of a beautiful rose and a virtuous soul. The rose is “angry and brave” (line 5) and makes a rash onlooker rub his eye in amazement. However, Herbert writes that the root of the flower is in its grave and it will fade (line 7). Finally, Herbert brings us to the season of spring which includes both beautiful days and beautiful roses. Spring could also represent time and everything in between. It is likened to “A box where sweets compacted lie;” And just as before the...
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