George Herbert’s The Pulley: Word Notes & Glossary

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The Pulley
By George Herbert
When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by,
“Let us,” said he, “pour on him all we can.
Let the world’s riches, which dispersèd lie,
   Contract into a span.”
   So strength first made a way;
Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure.
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure,
   Rest in the bottom lay.
   “For if I should,” said he,
“Bestow this jewel also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts instead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature;
   So both should losers be.
   “Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessness;
Let him be rich and weary, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
   May toss him to my breast.”

About the Poet
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George Herbert was a Welsh-born
English poet, orator and Anglican priest. Herbert’s poetry is associated with
the writings of the metaphysical poets, and he is recognized as “a pivotal
figure: enormously.
Born: April 3, 1593, Montgomery, United Kingdom
Died: March 1, 1633, Bemerton, United Kingdom
George Herbert's "The Pulley": Word Notes & Glossary

Siblings: Edward Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Cherbury
Parents: Magdalen Newport, Richard Herbert of Montgomery Castle
George Herbert is regarded as an extra-ordinary original
poet. His simplicity and lucidity of style is well known. He uses everyday images.
He comprehends the nature of God’s love for man and man’s love for God. In the
whole range of English poetry no one turned so completely away from
George Herbert's "The Pulley": Word Notes & Glossary

mundane to
divine love as Herbert did. “The Pulley” appeared in The Temple volume
of poems in1633.

Word Notes & Glossary
The Title, ‘The Pulley’:              A
pulley is an arrangement for lifting; the poem describes God’s plan for   drawing
man up to Himself.
Blessing:                       expressing thanks, affection, or
good wishes
The blessing in the prayer usually
said at the end of a Church service asking God to bless or look kindly upon the
people who are present.
Standing by:                                   Something
that is always ready to be used if it needed, especially in an emergency.

Pour on:                                            You
fill up a cup or glass with a liquid which flows out quickly. Here there is a
reference to the overflow of the God’s blessing.
Riches:                                                    valuable possessions, wealth/
huge amount of money or property
Dispersed:                                         spread, scattered / spread over a wide range of area
Contract:                                           (here) they tighten and become smaller
Strength:                                           physical  energy               
or potentiality of a person
Made a way:                                   made an entry into the soul
God made a stay:                         God
stops his activity    
Perceiving            to realize or notice you continue to be there and do
not move away
Treasure:                                           gifts
Rest:                                                     the
poet uses pun out of this word,’ rest’. It indicates duplicity of meaning. In
the first place, it refers ‘mental peace’ or ‘mental satisfaction’. Secondly,
it signifies relaxation after heavy burdensome activity or boredom.
This jewel:                                        reference
to ‘rest’, peace of mind, free from worries, tensions and anxieties.
Creature:                               we, the human beings created by
Adore:                                                 worship, praise
Rest in Nature:                              Man
will enjoy material objects and forget the Creator, who has given such precious
gifts and even the life.
The rest:                                          the remainder of all gifts of
Repining:                            worrying; distressing oneself
with regret
Weary:                                            tired,
exhausted, dispirited
Toss…breast:                                   dissatisfaction
with the earthly life will lead man to God, the Creator. The poet had in his mind
the statement made by Saint Augustine: “Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our
hearts are restless till they rest in Thee”.
George Herbert's "The Pulley": Word Notes & Glossary


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