George Herbert: "The Church-porch"
Day 1: Evening
|Thou, whose sweet youth and early hopes inhance
Thy rate and price, and mark thee for a treasure;
Harken unto a Verser, who may chance
Ryme thee to good, and make a bait of pleasure.
A verse may finde him, who a sermon flies,
And turn delight into a sacrifice.
Herbert's address to the reader: Speaking
to the young, inexperienced but expectant reader, Herbert calls upon the
youthful hopes which augment the person's value and mark him/her as valuable.
The address is to the searching, developing person, rich in hope and prospect.
The one wayward trait that youth seeks is pleasure, which the writer seeks
to use to develop the youth. The poems which the youth reads for pleasure,
for "delight," will become his education in religious dedication.
When poetry was a pleasure and everyone wrote letters to communicate with distant friends and poems for family and loved ones, a book of poems may easily be bought for relaxation. The style and talent of the writer were appreciated and learned as techniques for expression and conversation. The idle hours become a benefit as well as a diversion. This is the hope of every serious communication, to please and instruct, to tutor through enjoyment. The writer seeks the person in his inclination and teaches there, through the poetry.
We read with a more serious motive than the intended youth. He read for poetic devices and turns of wit and imagination. The truth may catch him unaware. We are the opposite: we know that we read for instruction and may find the wit, poetry and pleasure surprising. The tables reverse. Herbert speaks to another audience. But even in his time the people, even the king, knew his name and anticipated the content of his writings.
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