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The Collar Analysis

Author: poem of George Herbert Type: poem Views: 22

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I struck the board, and cried "No more!

I will abroad.

What, shall I ever sigh and pine?

My lines and life are free; free as the road,

Loose as the wind, as large as store.

Shall I be still in suit?

Have I no harvest but a thorn

To let me blood, and not restore

What I have lost with cordial fruit?

Sure there was wine

Before my sighs did dry it; there was corn

Before my tears did drown it.

Is the year only lost to me?

Have I no bays to crown it?

No flowers, no garlands gay? all blasted?

All wasted?

Not so, my heart: but there is fruit,

And thou hast hands.

Recover all thy sigh-blown age

On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute

Of what is fit, and not. Forsake thy cage,

Thy rope of sands,

Which petty thoughts have made, and made to thee

Good cable, to enforce and draw,

And be thy law,

While thou didst wink and wouldst not see.

Away; take heed:

I will abroad.

Call in thy death's head there: tie up thy fears.

He that forbears

To suit and serve his need,

Deserves his load."

But as I raved and grew more fierce and wild

At every word,

Methoughts I heard one calling "Child!"

And I replied "My Lord".


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| Posted on 2011-11-25 | by a guest

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The Poem
“The Collar” is George Herbert’s most extensive and detailed poem of rebellion. Thirty-two of its thirty-six lines describe what the poem itself calls the ravings of a person growing “more fierce and wild” as he strains to release himself from the restrictive pressures that surround him. Much like John Donne’s energetic complaints to God in several of his Holy Sonnets, “The Collar” gives full expression to the speaker’s resentment of the pain and rigor of leading a life that is moral and holy. Only after these complaints are freely, almost hysterically voiced is the speaker taught how quickly they can be banished by a patient God who ultimately gives more than he asks.
The poem begins with a dramatic statement of refusal—“I struck the board, and cried, No more”—and the following lines give examples of the kind of life that the speaker wants to leave behind. He is a person of ambition and desire, yet everything in life seems to conspire to frustrate or torment him. His life is one of “sighs” and “tears,” a situation he finds particularly distressing because he can readily imagine the joys and glories, the wine, fruit, and flowers, that are withheld from him.
The process of describing his past failure to seize the available pleasures of life makes him more determined to change his ways immediately and exchange his tears for the pursuit of “double pleasures.” Like a libertine, he suggests that inhibitions and moral laws are only a “rope of sands” once a person decides not to be bound by them. Instead of being blind to the forbidden pleasures of life, he will now serve only his needs and desires. Enraptured by his own enthusiasm, even the death’s-head, the traditional reminder of mortality and the nearness of judgment, is no longer intimidating and will certainly not be part of his luggage as he prepares to go abroad. He is confident that all of his fears can be neatly bundled up and left behind, and he attempts to wind up his argument with what sounds like a proverb celebrating his new creed of practical selfishness: “He that forbears/ To suit and serve his need,/ Deserves his load.”
This is not, however, the true finale of his argument, which is provided by the intervention of a holy voice, a device used in several other key poems by Herbert. All the ravings of the speaker are answered by one gentle word, “Child,” an almost miraculous reminder that not only is the speaker always overheard by God, but, more important, he is always protected, instructed, and accepted. This is the way the world of rebellion ends, not with a bang but with a whisper, and when the speaker replies “My Lord,” he acknowledges not only that his rebelliousness is at an end but that devotion to such a Lord is not painful servitude but joyful freedom. In a curious way, the story of this poem is thus foretold by the multiple meanings hinted at by the title: “The Collar” suggests a restrictive collar that the speaker wants to slip and the angry “choler” to which he gives voice throughout most of the lines; yet even in the depths of his anger and rebelliousness, the speaker is a “caller,” and God is always ready to answer.
Forms and Devices
One of the most interesting aspects of “The Collar” is the way the form of the poem helps to convey not only the dramatic rebelliousness of the speaker but also the concluding resolution. The speaker’s anger and nervousness are underscored in several ways. His speech pattern is halting and constantly interrupted. Many of the statements are short, and the frequent punctuation in the lines gives them a clipped, staccato sound, adding to the impression of uneasiness. Any sense that this is the speech of a confident and determined man is also undermined by the fact that much of it takes the form of questions. These are meant to be rhetorical questions, but still they suggest that the speaker is plagued with doubts.
At first glance, the overall structure of “The Collar” seems to mirror the state of mind of the speaker. The line lengths alternate in an apparently irregular pattern, and the rhyme scheme is difficult to assess. As a result, the structure of the poem may be taken as an embodiment of the rebelliousness of the man who is in the process of swearing off all laws and restrictions. “My lines and life are free,” he says, and the irregular lines of the poem signify his first step toward a life of pleasurable transgression. From another perspective, the form of the poem seems not so much free as chaotic, thus subtly indicating that a person who repudiates the legal and moral restrictions of life abandons the basic principles of order and thereby begins a descent into incoherence, the necessary by-product of rebelliousness.
The structure of “The Collar,” however, is neither completely free nor chaotic, but extremely subtle, discernible only after careful and patient analysis. Beneath the superficial disorder, or developing progressively through it, is an orderly pattern that climaxes in the last four lines of the poem. This is best seen in the rhyme scheme. As Joseph H. Summers points out in George Herbert: His Religion and Art (1954), every line in “The Collar” finds a rhyme somewhere, but through most of the poem there are many off-rhymes, and because rhymes do not occur at predictable, regular intervals, they sometimes undermine rather than create a sense of closure. Near the end, the rhyming lines begin to occur closer and closer, but the speaker’s last assertion that he is tying up his fears is still belied by the irregular off-rhymes (abroad/load, fears/forbears). Only in the last four lines do the rhymes become regular (alternating abab) and purposeful: The designation of the speaker as “wild” is replaced by the new name given to him, “Child,” and his every “word” of rebelliousness gives way to “Lord,” the divine word capable of redeeming human anger, weakness, and folly.
Themes and Meanings
The recurrent topic of Herbert’s poems is not perfection but correction. Perfection is unreachable, but constant correction is one of the rules of religious life (and religious poetry) for Herbert. The speaker of “The Collar” is by no means wicked or reprehensible. He is, in fact, all too human, and his protest against the inevitable disappointments, restrictions, and pains of life is one with which most of the readers of this poem can sympathize and identify. Much to his credit, Herbert never denies the validity of the experiences described in “The Collar” or suggests that such feelings, however confused or disordered or angry, are unworthy of expression. Herbert knew that the Bible, especially the book of Psalms, one of his great spiritual and poetic models, dwells repeatedly on laments and complaints as radical as those in “The Collar.”
Alongside the Bible, perhaps there is also something of a different kind of social and religious ritualism here—the carnivalesque spirit. Carnival is a festival time of at least temporary release from the obligations and restraints of daily life, and one is not only freed but even encouraged to abuse, parody, or otherwise flout the figures of authority and “cold dispute[s]/ Of what is fit, and not” and grab for the physical pleasures at hand. Carnival functions not only as an individual and societal relief valve, letting off pressure that might otherwise build to intolerable levels, but also an important acknowledgment of the claims of the body and a person’s legitimate right to cry out against the strains of religion, law, and morality.
In works by William Shakespeare, according to C. L. Barber in Shakespeare’s Festive Comedy (1959), carnivalesque release leads to clarification, and this is precisely the pattern of “The Collar,” where Herbert allows the speaker full expression of his freedom as part of a rhythm of spiritual life that returns hi

| Posted on 2011-06-10 | by a guest

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The meaning of the poem can be implied from the name of the poem- The collar. What does a collar represent? A collar represents subjectability(submission may be the word that fits here), and because of subjectability it also represents mutability. This definition is evidenced in the theme of the poem. Herbert was obviously contemplating abandoning his role as a priest, but Herbert finally meets reality at the end of the poem and retains the Christian theistic worldview by returning to God and crying \"My Lord\". God gives us the power of will, we can choose to do what we want to do. But will it be beneficial if we do so when we come to the end of the road? Herbert believed that it wasn\'t and suggested that the fracas between not only God and man to cease but also the fracas between him and God. By doing so Herbert keeps the faith and is separated \" set apart\" from the world. ( i.e. Romans 12:2)

| Posted on 2011-02-04 | by a guest

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the collar\' is the most superb art of work of George Herbert and is truly regarded as a saint among metaphysical poets.

| Posted on 2010-09-30 | by a guest

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the collar is a religious poem that is represented by contraption and restraint when the speaker talks about rope, cable, cages, and the collar.

| Posted on 2010-09-26 | by a guest

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''The Collar'' is a symbolic, religious poem. In this poem, Herbert describes the agony and conflict experienced by him as a priest. The collar - the high collar of the priest- is symbolic of the restraints imposed upon a priest. The poet evidently seems to be in a conflict experiencing the two way pull between the secular life and the religious life of a priest.
written by:
Ziaulhaq Ateed

| Posted on 2010-05-03 | by a guest

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This is a about Herbert's calling as a pastor and wrestling with the sacrifice and self-pity that come from such a poured out life. The collar is both a sign of his office and a symbol his entrapment. However there is a tenderness in the last line when he realizes to Whom he belongs.

| Posted on 2009-10-21 | by a guest

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The Collar is basically about divine intoxication and the war between being intoxicated and the veil which separates the contemplative and the love of god. The poet does believe in a Supreme power which sustains all living thing in this universe and the other universes(metaphorical).
I an personally relate to it due to my own limited understanding of God.

| Posted on 2009-10-12 | by a guest

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The Collar analysis :
Perhaps the best treatment of the subject of submission to the Divine Will is to be found in The Collar, which is certainly among the most celebrated of Herbert's lyrics. Once again, the form closely mirrors the argument. The poem opens with an account of an exasperated outburst of rebellion by the poet:
I struck the board, and cry'd, No more.
I will abroad.
What follows is a venting of spleen - an assertion of freedom, a complaint of grievances against the life of devotion out of which the poet intends to break, leading to a boastful challenge to the alleged morbid seriousness and paralysing timidity of the life the poet is renouncing. As the poet raves, growing more fierce and wild/At every word, he hears God calling him and, instantly, knows his place and admits God's authority.
The poem is in the iambic metre, but the lines are of varied length and there are no divisions into stanzas. The apparent randomness of form serves a dual purpose: it exaggerates the conversational tone - we can imagine the poet really speaking these lines. From No more in the first line to: He that forbears/To suit and serve his need,/Deserves his load the poem reads like a very histrionic soliloquy. The second effect of this randomness is to suggest the indiscipline of the rebellious spirit, which is both cause and consequence of the rebellion. The argument is heated and passionate but unconvincing. As it proceeds, the reader has the sense that the reasoning has not been premeditated and pondered, but is impulsive, spoken in heat. It seems like boastful posturing even before the poem's conclusion. With the poem's conclusion it is made to look ridiculous. In justifying his rebellion against the Divine yoke Herbert talks of religious prescriptions as a cage or rope of sands which is only made to seem good cable by the poet's own pettie thoughts. Yet, as he admits God as Lord, Herbert makes it clear that it is the attempt to rebel which is like sand and that the true pettie thoughts are those he has just asserted so bombastically.
The technical feature that most typifies this pretentious self-assertion is the redundant or rhetorical question, the answer to which is supposed to be self-evident and to support the greater argument in which it appears. Knowing where his poem will end, Herbert may be said to use this device ironically with a sense of its ridiculousness, especially when used with such predictable frequency (eight times in not many more than eight short lines). At the time he says these things, of course, the speaker is not being ironic but giving an aggrieved proof or demonstration of his self-inflicted loss:
What? shall I ever sigh and pine?
...Shall I be still in suit?
...Is the year onely lost to me?
The questions, and the many short lines, give the poem a fitful and uneven quality; there is no fluency of movement until the final quatrain of the poem. In these lines the poet reflects, calmly, on the result of the outburst he has just repeated. The ranting and raving is instantly, easily, dispelled by the gentlest of reminders, from God, of the poet's subservience.
God speaks in a still small voice (as in 1 Kings 19.12, Revised Version) and the submission is instant. The silly boasting spoken to bolster the courage of the self could not convincingly repeated in the presence of God. God has no need to answer the arguments: His mere presence exposes their hollowness. So, in these lines, the poem is fluent, eloquent, calm and subdued everything the preceding lines are not. Each pair of lines can be read almost as a single line; in the penultimate pair the syntax requires it (as modern editors' punctuation shows). The pairs seem to be of equal length to the ear though counting syllables will show an extra iambic foot in the final line.
But as I rav'd and grew more fierce and wild
At every word
Me thoughts I heard one calling, Child!
And I reply'd, My Lord.
That extra foot is, in effect, the conclusion to the poet's rebellion as to the poem: My lord truly shows the poet's acceptance of The Collar.
Written by : Alaa Cali4nia Boy

| Posted on 2009-07-28 | by a guest

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This poem appears to reflect Herbert's consideration of how one should lead their life in order to become closer to God. Herbert reflects upon the bargain struck to move forward and thus (possibly)away from sin. The first part of the stanza notes the need to recognise the need to agree/bargain or haggle the price one should pay to stop grieving at mis-fortunes found in life and states the intention to move away/ onward from his previous way of life.
Herbert questions the point of bemoaning ones lot and acknowledges that ones way in life includes a freedom of choice - therefore life is what one makes it.
He ponders whether he can measure up to the challenge of this new way forward.
Throughout the poem he appears to ponder what life offers and what he has to show for his existence
Have I nothing else to give /produce?(other than to bleed at lifes hardship and not repent - let loose bad blood (evil)
Should one only take part in a semi-harvest then one will only see what is lost not gained The juices of life are not only sweet but produced from the pulp of fruit (possibly could refer to the fruits of ones labour?)Aluding to the thought that there are many facets of life which contribute to the making of it Wine is made from the whole fruit (yet represents the body of Christ) what is left is discarded -such as pulp, seeds skin but it would not have been possible to make the wine without therefore the whole/entire person(mind and body) is required to make the best of what one is given. It could be that Herbert is drawing a comparison to the idea that in death the husk of the person (the body) will be discarded and that the produce/juices of the body is simply the soul.
Wasting the produce / harvest represents not making the most of what one has been given.
Has one nothing to show for labour/toil existence?
Can there be nothing to show for the year? Cant one crown / top what has been provided celebrate the beauty and goodness look for the good rather than the bad? (This could also be considering that others in the world also suffer)
Recognising that there is reward if one looks at what can be harvested should Gods endowment not be celebrated?
Take back all the sighs/ moaning and regrets- recoup your losses to judge what is worthy of ones self and refrain from that which restricts the boundaries of goodness give up pointless / useless bonds which encourage negative thoughts. Rather one should seek strong bonds look for the good for inspiration Making this the way that one governs his/her way in life. While ones eyes are closed to this train of thought the way will not be lit / shown. Herbert suggests that he has moved away from the discourse of regret and immediate gratification of worldly goods.
Reign in your fears and receive your just deserts the way you clothe/conduct your life will reap its reward.
(Suggests that reflected in the bible- give up your worldly goods to find reward in heaven.)
A reflection that the reader / listener should take notice of these thoughts/warning; suggesting that the whilst raging against injustices of life Herbert came to hear the voice of God and responded by turning to religion.
Written by : Alaa Cali4nia Boy

| Posted on 2009-07-28 | by a guest

.: general points-the collar :.

theme=religious doubt
general tone= agressive
we see alot of doubt and questioning (rhetorical questions near beginning
'trapped' imagery (ropes of sand etc)

| Posted on 2008-02-03 | by a guest

.: The Collar analysis :.

portrays agitation, indignation, frustration 'All blasted?' 'All wasted' flurry of rhetorical questions. Cross reference Herbert's poem 'Forerunners' similarlt uses rhetorical questions to portray indignation 'Must they dispark those sparkling notions?'


| Posted on 2007-05-29 | by a guest

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