Virtue poem summary

Virtue is a famous poem by George Herbert. It belongs to the metaphysical school of poetry. As in all metaphysical poems, the poet uses a dialectic argument to express his idea. Virtue poem summary

There is an aura of logic behind the ingenuity of the poet with which the poet tries to persuade the readers to his lines of argument. A sequence of descriptions is given. It beings with a picture of a sweet day. Then comes the picture of the sweet rose, of the spring, and finally of the virtuous soul.

Theme of Virtue Poem

There is a reasoned contrast between the first three pictures and the last one The sweet day and the sweet rose are alike. The spring is also alike. The spring contains both, So the sweet day and the sweet rose are equally the spring. But the spring is much more, It contains much more. But the common point about them all is that “all must die”.

The premise in the fourth stanza’s argument is that virtue must be added to make a sweet soul. Once it is done the soul becomes of a different class. It ceases to be affected by the ravages of changing times, It becomes like a seasoned timber immune from death and destruction. Here are two famous comparisons in the poem.

Analysis of Virtue

One is the comparison with a box over bringing sweets. The other is the comparison of the virtuous soul with the “seasoned timber.” Both grander says, more striking in ingenuity than justness. The poem has a charming pictorial quality.

The picture of the day rose and the spring is very interesting. Still more poetic is the picture of the bridal tie between the earth and the sky. The picture of the rose as angry and brave forcing the gazers to wipe out their eyes is equally charming.

Virtue poem by George Herbert

The language used is that of common speech. Virtue has the sonority and sweetness of good lyrics. The poem is made up of four stanzas. Each stanza has four lines. The stanza has alternate rhyming. The length of the time is varied in accordance with the flow, of the argument of the poem.

Virtue poem summary
Virtue poem summary

The finest metaphysical poem displays the dialectical expression of personal drama. Virtue is not such a poem. Yet it is a remarkable poem of its kind combining some of the best qualities of the classical and metaphysical school of poetry.

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