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


¶    The Sonne.

LEt forrain nations of their language boast,
What fine varietie each tongue affords:
I like our language, as our men and coast:
Who cannot dresse it well, want wit, not words.
How neatly doe we give one onely name
To parents issue and the sunnes bright starre!
A sonne is light and fruit; a fruitfull flame
Chasing the fathers dimnesse, carri’d farre
From the first man in th’ East, to fresh and new
Western discov’ries of posteritie.
So in one word our Lords humilitie
We turn upon him in a sense most true:
      For what Christ once in humblenesse began,
      We him in glorie call, The Sonne of Man.

General note on puns: In modern usage all puns are humorous, or are supposed to be funny. Before the Eighteenth Century, which was also before standardized spelling, puns were a way of uniting 2 ideas with one set of sounds. In the Bible, God used puns to communicate meaning in visions. See Jeremiah 1:11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree {shaw-kade}. 12 Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten {shaw-kad} my word to perform it. ["almond" and "hasten/awaken"  have the same 3 consonants and are puns in Hebrew.] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769. [If you still believe that all puns are humorous, then you also believe that God has a sense of humor - beside creating mankind.] Also see another of Herbert’s puns on sun or an oblique reference in "Easter," and  John Donne, "A Hymn to God the Father" for a serious use of puns [done and Donne].

Joseph Addison, in The Spectator, No. 58, Monday, May 7, 1711, argued against ancient Greek poems in the shape of eggs, &c. as false wit. He continued:
     Mr. Dryden hints at this obsolete kind of Wit [shaped poems] in one of the following Verses in his Mac Fleckno; which an English Reader cannot understand, who does not know that there are those little Poems abovementioned in the Shape of Wings and Altars.
       . . . Chuse for thy Command
Some peaceful Province in Acrostick Land;
There may'st thou Wings display, and Altars raise,
And torture one poor Word a thousand Ways.
     This Fashion of false Wit was revived by several Poets of the last Age, and in particular may be met with among Mr. Herbert's Poems; . . . .
The barb on "torture one poor Word a thousand Ways" includes puns as "False Wit." To the Eighteenth Century, the standardized spelling eliminated puns.

The Poem Index has a listing for Sun as an image in George Herbert’s poetry.

Note on English Sonnet form and organization.

Modern version

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