Freedom from Slavery
Metaphysical poetry arose in the 17th century and was adopted by John Donne who wrote poems that featured topics such as love, life, and God. As a result, Donne had become the leading poet of Metaphysical poetry, but it was not soon after that that a poet named George Herbert associated himself with parallel metaphysical topics, God, most importantly. Both Herbert and Donne effectively depict the relationship and power dynamic between the creator and the creation. In Herbert’s “The Collar” and Donne’s “Holy Sonnet 14” the relationship between God and humans is expressed similarly. Herbert and Donne create speakers that experience a struggle with their faith in God. Both speakers give into the temptation of sin but eventually become devout to God in the end. Both poets use effective diction and portray their speakers with the notion of being enslaved to either God or Satan. They utilize the paradox that the only way that the speakers can set free from sin is if God takes action to make us his slaves. One must be enslaved to God in order to feel free. Prior to reading “The Collar,” Herbert provides the audience with a title that supports the meaning of the poem. The title is important because it’s an image that symbolizes the position of the speaker. ‘The collar’ in this poem refers to the white band worn by priests in the clergy; therefore it is understood that the speaker is a priest. The poem presents a rather dramatic opening scene suggesting that the speaker is unhappy with his position as a priest. The speaker desires to leave the clergy and become a famous poet, and for that reason takes on violent action as he cries, “I struck the board, and cried, "No more;/ I will abroad” (Herbert lines 1-2). Impatient with his role as a priest, the speaker has thought of himself as a slave to the demanding Lord. He begins to regret devoting his life to the lord and wonders what it would have been like if he hadn’t. He compares his life to that of...
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