The collar

Essay by alla123 September 2008

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George Herbert was born on April 3, 1593 at Montgomery Castle, thefifth son of an eminent Welsh family. Herbert's religious beliefscaused him to be an active opponent of the puritans and the Calvinists.

Herbert became the cannon of Lincoln Cathedral and in 1630 he took holyorders. During the years Herbert spent at Bemerton he worked on acollection of verses known as The Temple. Upon his death theypublished the manuscript. The poem "The Collar" is a complaint voicedby person embittered against the constraints that bind him. Impatientwith the human condition, the writer resolves to break free. "My linesand life are free, free as the road, / Loose as the wind, as large asstore" he insists. The accompanying gesture, "I struck the board andcried, 'No more!'" is a dramatic, and boastful act. The tone of theselines is recognized as an exaggeration. The writer is impatient withthe need to recognize one's dependence and to accept one's need toworship and serve God.

The poem as a whole is about blowing offsteam. Herbert develops two quite vivid major images to build thepoem's theme. The images of restraints such as "collars / cages /cable / rope"suggests something stiff and restrictive, but not harmful,like a noose or shackles. The title of the poem, "The Collar," anarticle of clothing a man wears when he must be at his best. The word"Collar" also refers to the white band worn by the clergy, and it isthe role of priest the poem alludes to. This collar symbolizes thepriest's role as servant. The writer chafes at being "in suit." Theimage has at least a double meaning. The word "suit" refers to theclerical "suit" and connotatively to the attendance required of avassal at his lord's court. "Forsake thy cage, / Thy rope of sands."The word "cage" suggests a contraption for animals. The...