George Herbert – 4 (The Collar)


Allen Ginsberg on George Herbert continues

“The Collar” [by George Herbert] – (page two-ninety-four) –  is..  is an odd one, because it’s totally bhakti, totally devotional, (a real prayer, but it’s a rare one, in a sense…he… Herbert occasionally breaks through with an absolutely straight emotional and clear heart thought and this is one of his famous breakthroughs of that kind.).

So I’d like to read it just to get the tone of (this) last compared to the rest….   He’s mad – “I struck a board and cried – No more” – “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,/ Methought I heard one calling, Child!  And I replied My Lord.

Like, that’s a real switch. It’s an amazing switch. Like you get.. It could sound better if you had.. got somebody that really has that totally   “Child!/My Lord” – It’s very dramatic. So this is one of the few things where you really.. where the intellectual and spiritual abstraction actually comes to some kind of an emotional presentation, totally emotional presentation (otherwise there’s an enormous amount of reasoning in it, except there is this great cadence (because he’s a lutenist).

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately fourteen-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately sixteen-and-three-quarter minutes in]

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