Exploring Christian Values in George Herbert’s Poem “A Wreath”
The poem is a rather short poem of 12 lines. In this poem, the speaker talks about a wreath, which is a garland popularly used during Christmas time. A wreath is composed of flowers and leaves arranged in a circle. In the Christian tradition, it comes with vigil candles. The speaker offers the wreath, referring to it as a garland of “deserved praise”. This phrase differentiates the wreath from other garlands. Saying that the wreath deserves praise implies that God, the one to whom it is offered deserves even better praise than the garland itself. Indeed, the addressee in the poem deserves higher reverence than the wreath.
Kronenfeld notes that the use of the wreath in the poem is reflective of Christian values. Taking from the Bible, he explains the distinction between wreaths, those for the drunkards of Ephraim which are to be trampled upon and those for the Lord, which are beautiful crowns of glory. To find out whether the poem is really imbued with Christian values, readers have to search background information regarding the poem. In particular, the background of the author will help establish the purpose and determine reference on the structure of the poem.
Being a poet during his time, Herbert has established an artist’s credibility of one aiming for perfection. Hence, modern critics who are much conscious of the technicalities of art arrive at the conclusion that more than the perfection of the soul, Herbert was aiming for the perfection of art.
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