Monday, January 19, 2015

“Easter Wings"

~This is one of the amazing shaped poems for which Herbert is known. Evaluate it line by line, and discuss the relationship between shape and meaning (i.e., between each line's length and its message).*

“Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,” Line 1** is the most joyous of them all and therefore lends itself to be the longest, or widest if you think about it in terms of wingspan. 

Lines 2-4 are seen “decaying more and more” (line 3), as mankind get’s more and more sinful.

Then finally in line 5 man is at his “most poor” state. The wealth and store of line 1 is wasted simultaneously the 1st stanza is at it’s emptiest place. 

Lines 6-10 focus on how man in singing of God’s wonders is able to glorify Him even in his wretched state.

But the poem begins to decrease in size as the realization that sin must still be punished is introduced in lines 11-13, until finally in lines 14-15 stanza 2 is at it’s thinnest point and man “became/ Most thin.”

Next in lines 16-18 we see renewed Hope as the speaker helplessly reaches out to God and “feel(s) (His)… victory.” At the same time the wings begin beauteously spreading out again.

Lines 19-20 show the speaker realizing that his afflictions will further God’s kingdom (“his flight” line 20) if he leans on his Lord’s strength; thus completing the image of a lark.


~What is the significance of the “larks” in line 8? What has happened to that image by the end of stanza 2? (“For, if I imp my wing on thine ...”)*


This image is reiterated in the figure of the actual poem itself!

(personally, I think that the bird looks rather fat….)

By the end of stanza 2 this Lark is not singing or flying with His own strength. He can’t. He is only able to do anything by leaning on the strength of His Lord. 


~ There are some striking instances of alliteration here (the repetition of initial consonant sounds at close intervals). Perhaps the best example is in line 10: “Then shall the fall further the flight in me.” What other occurrences do you see? What is the paradoxical meaning of line 10?*


The idea that a fall could further flight is seemingly absurd at first. But this is simply the idea of less of self, and more of God. So in making himself smaller, he is able to fly much further for God’s kingdom.

Another alliteration I see is line 12, “And still with sickness and shame.” This is simply an explanation of the depravity of man. He’s getting no where (still), he is pervert and ahs all kinds of ghastly illnesses (sickness), and shame obviously comes with this and all sin.

*questions from PHCprep class
**you can look at image to see what lines I am talking about :)