Journal Writing 8
Herbert is a wonderfully subtle poet who can write a SONNET like “Prayer” entirely in nouns and noun phrases. (That’s right! There are no active verbs in this definitional sonnet.) Write a response ( 300- 400 words) to this poem in which you try to suggest some of the associations and meaning of some of the nouns and noun phrases Herbert uses to define prayer. I suggest you read the poem carefully and make a list of the various metaphors. Even if you don’t understand any biblical associations, there are still some metaphors that should reveal Herbert’s sense of what prayer is.
PRAYER the Churches banquet, Angels age,
Gods breath in man returning to his birth from him,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth;
Engine against th ’Almightie, sinner’s towre,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six daies world-transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear;
Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best,
Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bels beyond the stars heard, the souls bloud,
The land of spices, something understood.