Donne, Herbert and Crashaw's Biblical References in the Poetry of the 17th Century

Topics: Jesus, Christianity, Holy Spirit Pages: 6 (2557 words) Published: January 25, 2007
The 17th century was a period in which religious reformation spread to England. Many Catholics converted to Protestantism. One of those is John Donne. He was a priest and was known for addressing God directly in his poems. He has a personal relationship between him and god. Donne carried the metaphysical style in his writings, which were taken up by later poets; the other two under consideration here are George Herbert and Crashaw. Herbert decided when he began writing poetry at Cambridge, to devote his poetic works to God, he had less difficulty in adjusting from court life to religious life than did Donne. Crashaw was another one of these followers. His father was a puritan, but Crashaw opposed his father. He converted to Catholicism and wrote religious poems. Donne, Herbert, and Crashaw used biblical references, which are words, ideas, subjects that are mentioned in a literary work to refer to a certain biblical story or verse (Oxford dictionary) , in their writings as they had a great interest in religion (Norton anthology, p1069-1079).

As we know Herbert is a metaphysical poet so he must have been influenced by the bible. He in his poem love 3 is giving a beautiful image of a meeting between God and a sinner. The sinner tells God that he is ashamed and he doesn't deserve God's forgiveness. God responds beautifully, and tells him that he has already bore the blame. This is to refer to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ the lamb which was written repeatedly in the bible. One mention of it is in the gospel of (Peter 1:18-19), when Saint Peter tells us that we were salved not by corruptible things but with the flawless blood of Jesus Christ the lamb. Another mention of the idea of carrying the blame is in (Isaiah 53:4-9), when he foretold the coming and death of Jesus Christ and his carrying of our grieves, sorrows and transgressions (, par6). In the last stanza of the same poem, God tells the sinner to sit down and eat from his meat and so he can serve him, the sinner accepts and is served by God. Herbert meant what Jesus Christ will do in the second coming which is an allusion to the final communion in heaven in the gospel of (Luke 12:37). Jesus Christ will grid himself and serve meat to the faithful servants. This can also be interpreted as a reference to the sacrament of the Holy Communion (Eucharist) which is derived from the last supper held by Jesus and his disciples in (Mathew 26:26). Jesus takes some bread, blesses it and tells his disciples that this is his body and he asks them to eat.

Herbert's pulley is a religious poem that has references to the bible. The first one is when Herbert describes how God created man with blessings. This refers to the first book of Moses (Genesis 1: 29) and (2:8-10). In these verses we find a description of the blessings that God gave to man upon his creation. He gave man every herb and every tree for food. He also gave Man Rivers, tress and gardens. In the first two lines of the last stanza, the speaker (God) decides to grant Man everything except rest. Here lies the second reference to the first book of Moses (Genesis 3:16-19). God tells the woman that she shall bear her children with pain, her husband shall rule over her. He tells Adam that the ground is damned, that he will eat from it in labor through all days of his life, He shall work hard for his daily bread till his death. Herbert have used this concept to show the sinful nature of Man and the punishment of God to Adam and Eve for their disobedience .The third reference in the poem is when God in the fourth stanza tells man that restlessness shall bring him to God. This reminds the reader of (Mathew 11:28), when Jesus speaks to a crowd he says: "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." This is used to show us that only when we're restless and burdened -that is almost always- we do remember God. This is due to the fact that Man is aware of his...
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