In George Herbert (1593-1633), profound religious sensibility is richly allied with a playful wit and with literary and musical gifts of the highest order. Herbert experimented brilliantly with a remarkable variety of forms, from hymns and sonnets to "pattern poems", the shapes of which reveal their subjects. Such technical agility never seems ostentatious, however, for precision of language and expression of genuine feeling were his primary concerns. Herbert is one of the finest religious poets in any language, though even secular readers respond to his quiet intensity and exuberant inventiveness. The poems he made achieve a perfection of form and feeling, a luminosity and a metaphysical grandeur unexcelled in the history of English writing.
Though long overshadowed by Donne and Milton, Herbert has come to be one of the most admired of the metaphysical poets. In this new edition of Herbert's works, the distinguished scholar and translator Ann Pasternak Slater shows through detailed textual notes, a reordering of the poems, and an extensive introduction just how great a writer Herbert is.