Herbert experimented brilliantly with a remarkable variety of forms, from hymns and sonnets to "pattern poems", the shape of which reveal their subjects. Such technical agility never seems ostentatious, however, for precision of language and expression of genuine feeling were the primary concerns of this poet who admonished his readers to "dare to be true". An Anglican priest who took his calling with deep seriousness, he brought to his work a religious reverence richly allied with a playful wit and with literary and musical gifts of the highest order. His best-loved poems, from "The Collar" and "Jordan" to "The Altar" and "Easter Wings," achieve a perfection of form and feeling, a rare luminosity, and a timeless metaphysical grandeur.
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Author Biography - George Herbert
1593 Herbert born (3 April) in Montgomery in Wales, the fifth son of Richard and Magdalen Herbert. Izaak Walton born. Death of Marlowe. Hooker's Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Polity (Books I-IV) published. 1595 Sidney's Apologie for Poetrie and Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamion published. Midsummer Night's Dream first (?) acted; also Richard II. 1596 Herbert's father dies; survived by his wife Magdalen, seven sons, and three daughters. The eldest son Edward matriculates at University College, Oxford. Spenser's Faerie Queene (Books IV-VI) published; also his Four Hymns. The Merchant of Venice first (?) acted. 1597 Bacon's first ten Essays published. 1599 Edward Herbert marries a cousin, Mary Herbert. Oliver Cromwell born. Death of Spenser. Julius Caesar and Henry V first acted. 1600 Death of Hooker. Fairfax's translation of Tasso published. Hamlet first (?) acted. 1601 Execution of Essex. Lancelot Andrewes appointed Dean of Westminster. Donne marries Anne More. Twelfth Night first (?) acted. 1603 Death of Elizabeth 1; accession of James 1. The Millenary Petition. 1604 Richard Bancroft appointed Archbishop. The Hampton Court Conference. Othello first acted. 1605 Herbert attends Westminster School. Bacon's Advancement of Learning published. The Gunpowder Plot. Sir Thomas Browne born. 1606 Macbeth, Jonson's Volpone and Tourneur's Revenger's Tragedy first (?) acted. 1608 Milton born. Robert Cecil created Earl of Salisbury, appointed Lord Treasurer. Sylvester's translation of Du Bartas: 1st complete edition. Herbert's mother marries Sir John Danvers. 1609 Herbert matriculates at Trinity College, Cambridge Spenser's Faerie Queene: 1st folio edition. Shakespeare's Sonnets published. 1610 Jonson's Alchemist first acted; also Shakespeare's Winter's Tale (1611). Galileo reports on his telescopic view of the heavens. 1611 George Abbot appointed Archbishop. The King James ('Authorized') Version of the Bible published. The Tempest first (?) acted. Chapman's Iliad completed. 1612 Death of the heir apparent Prince Henry; Herbert contributes two memorial poems in Latin, his first verses to be published. Death of Salisbury. Robert Carr, later Earl of Somerset, in favour. 1613 Princess Elizabeth marries Frederick Elector Palatine. Sir Thomas Overbury murdered. Crashaw born. Nicholas Ferrar visits the Continent (to 1618). 1614 Ralegh's History of the World published. Webster's Duchess of Malfi first (?) acted. 1615 Donne ordained. George Villiers, later Duke of Buckingham, in favour. 1616 Death of Shakespeare. Herbert elected major fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Jonson's Works published. 1617 Death of Donne's wife. 1618 Herbert appointed Reader in Rhetoric at Cambridge. Ralegh executed. Bacon appointed Lord Chancellor. Cowley born. 1619 Edward Herbert appointed ambassador in Paris. Lancelot Andrewes appointed Bishop of Winchester. 1620 Herbert elected Public Orator at Cambridge (to 1628). Settlement of first New England colony by the Pilgrim Fathers. Bacon's Novum Organum published. 1621 Bacon impeached. Donne appointed Dean of St. Paul's. Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy published. Marvell born. 1622 Henry Vaughan born. 1623 The 1st Shakespeare Folio published. 1624 Herbert elected to represent Montgomery in Parliament (also in 1625). Edward Herbert's De veritate published in Paris. 1625 Death of James 1; accession of Charles 1 who marries Henrietta Maria of France. Outbreak of Plague. Nicholas Ferrar settles at Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire. Bacon dedicates his Translation of Certaine Psalmes to Herbert. Death of Webster. 1626 Herbert presented to a prebend in Huntingdonshire; four miles from Little Gidding. Death of Bacon; Herbert contributes a memorial poem in Latin. Death of Lancelot Andrewes. John Aubrey born. 1627 Death of Herbert's mother; the funeral sermon, delivered by Donne, was accompanied when published by commemorative poems including Herbert's Memoriae Matris sacrum. 1628 Buckingham assasinated. William Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood published. Bunyan born. 1629 Marriage of Herbert to his stepfather's cousin Jane Danvers. Edward Herbert elevated to the peerage as Lord Herbert of Cherbury. Lancelot Andrewes' XCVI Sermons published. 1630 Herbert instituted to the rectory at Bemerton near Salisbury in April; ordained priest in September. Prince Charles (later Charles II) born. Emigrations to New England (1630 ff.). 1631 Death of Donne. Dryden born. 1632 Crashaw visits Little Gidding (1632 ff.). 1633 Charles 1 visits Little Gidding. William Laud appointed Archbishop. Donne's Poems published. I March: Herbert's death, of consumption, just before his fortieth birthday