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In today’s class, we will be talking about reading and analysing non-African poetry: “The Pulley” by George Herbert. Enjoy the class!
Reading and Analysing Non-African Poetry: “The Pulley” by George Herbert
About the poet
George Hebert was born in Wales in 1593. He was an English poet, orator and Anglican priest. His background as a clergyman had a profound influence on his writings. He has been classified as a metaphysical poet. His poems were greatly influenced by John Donne’s works because the latter was his mother’s friend. His poems were highly philosophical in nature and they celebrated God’s love towards man. Herbert wrote about issues of life using a religious approach. Throughout his life, he wrote religious poems characterized by a unique use of imagery, which was easily accessible to his readers. Herbert’s writings express his relationship with God. He confessed that his poetry is a picture of the spiritual conflicts between God and man’s soul.
Content Analysis of the Poem
George Herbert’s “The Pulley” focuses on the relationship between God and man, God’s love for man and man’s weakness. In this poem, Herbert uses the metaphor of the pulley to talk about man’s dependence on God and the fact that without God man is nothing. The point being stressed in this poem is that after creating man, God deliberately withheld some benefits from him so that man would turn to Him for his needs and salvation. The implication is that man’s yearning for those things lacking in his life would ultimately bring him back to God. Thus, the pulley serves as a metaphor presenting man’s helplessness and dependence on God for his sustenance and assistance. The poem adopts a three-part syllogistic approach, which is a common feature of metaphysical poetry. The first part usually raises a question or an issue, which needs to be resolved. The second part works on the issue, the last provides the solution. Within the contest of “The Pulley”, the first part narrates the creation story, while the second part describes an endowment of man with virtue like riches, honour, wisdom beauty, etc. In the third part, God finds a way to retain man’s interesting Him by giving him everything but rest. He succeeds in devising a strategy to continually draw men unto Him. George Herbert’s poems are usually emblematic in nature and “The Pulley” is no exception. The structure of the poem is unusual as the first and last line of every stanza is shorter than the remaining lines. Readers can easily imagine the shape of a pulley and appreciate the poem as these lines create a visual description and the analysis of the poem creates a visual description and the analysis of the poem creates its significance. God gave man everything he will ever need after creation but in bid to restore man to God, He bestowed weariness and restlessness on a man so that man will always run to Him for salvation.
- How does the poet portray man and God?
- Summarize the poem in your own words
In our next class, we will be talking about Reading and Analysing Non-African Poetry: “The Pulley” by George Herbert. We hope you enjoyed the class.
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