[The Pulley][The Temple, Detail of Model]from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert:


¶    The Pulley.

               VVHen God at first made man,
Having a glasse of blessings standing by;
Let us (said he) poure on him all we can:
Let the worlds riches, which dispersed lie,
               Contract into a span.

               So strength first made a way;
Then beautie flow’d, then wisdome, honour, pleasure:
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that alone of all his treasure
               Rest in the bottome lay.

               For if I should (said he)
Bestow this jewell also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts in stead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature:
               So both should losers be.
               Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlesnesse:
Let him be rich and wearie, that at least,
If goodnesse leade him not, yet wearinesse
               May tosse him to my breast.

Criticism: Brief Analysis of Herbert's Conceit of "The Pulley" by Mickey Wadia

Personal Commentary: Jay D. Weaver, "Feelings of Restlessness."

Music Interpretation: "The Pulley" by Red Dragon

Professor's Note on Poetic Images: With all poetic images, 2 unlike things are compared. Example: creation of humanity : a glass of blessings. These are 2 things that are basically unlike each other, but the poetic mind sees the similarity.
Similie: Compare 2 unlike things using "like" or "as." If Herbert wrote "creating man is like pouring talents into the earth," this would be a similie.
Metaphor: Compare 2 unlike things directly, not using "like" or "as." Example: Herbert does not use a similie. He describes the creation image as equivalent to the glass of blessings. He extends the image with examples: strength, beauty, wisdom, honor, pleasure and rest (stz. 2-3). [Up to stanza 3, Herbert creates an extended metaphor, but it has not become a conceit until the last stanza.]
Conceit: "An extended metaphor." That is the usual definition, but a conceit is more complex, more involved. A conceit not only extends the image, as in the 3rd stanza, but it develops the ideas and metaphor into a new, even surprising direction. [This is the signature of the metaphysical poet.] "Rest," the blessing God withholds, leaves us with "restlessness." As our restlessness drags us down (on one rope of the pulley), we rise (on the other rope) to God, who gives us the blessing of Rest.
Herbert adds the image of the pulley into (not just on to) the image of the glass of blessings. "The Pulley" is not just 2 metaphors with one extended. It is 2 metaphors working together to convey the meaning. The "glass of blessings" metaphor extends and expands until it developes into another image, the pulley.

{Professor in Meditation: Is this what happens to the "rope of sands" in "The Collar"?}

Thou awakest us to delight in Thy praise; for Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee. - Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, Chapter 1.

Modern version
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