Daniel Castor takes a close look at a poem of a great Christian man, George Herbert. His poem is entitled “The Temper”. Check out this poem in the left column and notations in the right; then scroll down to Daniels personal analysis.
Analysis of George Herbert's Poem “The Temper”
by Daniel Castor 10/27/2017
As I read trough Herbert’s poem, The Temper, something stirred up inside of me. These words and these concepts about being stretched from one degree to another seemed all to familiar to me. I myself have experienced the emotional toll of being yanked form one degree to another. This can be painful and discouraging, yet even so, God is in control. He knows what he is doing and he can be trusted. This is the theme and thrust of Herbert’s poem.
Hebert’s poem is structured with a spiraling decent. At first there is joy to be had and praise to be given, but that does not last. Soon sorrow and darkness creep in and Herbert feels the pressure of feeling far from God. From the darkness he looks to God and sets his trust in him. This allows him to delight in God at all times, even when God seems far off.
(Line 1) The Poem starts off with a man who is on a spiritual high. He is delighting himself in the Lord and is glad to give God the praise He so righty deserves. (line 2) He would gladly engrave his praise to God “in steal” as a lasting monument to his God in order that his praise live on forever. (Line 3 - 4) Yet the man does not feel like this always. He wishes that he could remain is such a state but Sadly he knows the feeling will pass.
(Line 5) Here we see the description of the differing degrees of spiritual emotions. (Line 6) Sometimes the man feels as if he could climb no higher, he is fully satisfied and seems to soar above heaven on high. (Line 7) At other times he feels as if he can not even stretch himself half so far, but that is not the worst of it. (Line 8) At his darkest times he feels as if he is in the depths of hell.
(Line 9) It is wearying to be stretched back and forth form one extreme to another. The man begs God not to stretch him so far. (Line 10) Yet even though the man longs not to be stretched, he trust that God is in charge of it all. (Line 11) For God is so big that he can not be contained. (Line 12) And we are as but dust and can be easily contained.
(Line 13-15) Here the man acknowledges that if God wants to stretch a sinful man so far He has every right to. (Line 16) If God so wills He may use his creation to measure the distance from fullness of joy to complete despair. (Line 17-18) The man continues to plead with God. He would rather stay close to God. (Line 19-20) If God would let him remain so close he feels as if he would be done with sin. God would rid himself of a sinner and that sinner would rid himself of need for hope or fear.
(Line 21) All things considered, the man knows that God’s way is best. (Line 22) God can do all that he wishes with mankind. (Line 23-24) But this we know, all of God’d dealings with man are not done in vain. He is using all of this stretching and contracting to temper us. He is using the highs and the lows to work in our heart.
(Line 25) No matter what this mans lot, wether God chooses to stretch him or contract him, he will trust in God. (Line 26) God has made him and he knows whats best for all that he has made. (Line 27-28) He can look away from his present situation and look to God. God is powerful and loving, as long as he trust in God it does not matter where he is, God will be there with him.