Love (III) By George Herbert

Introduction: Love (III) is a beautiful poem written By George Herbert. In this poem, God is represented as Love, meaning that God is the source and fountain of all love and that God’s love for mankind is infinite.

Love (III)


God, who is Love, welcomed me to His feast, but my soul hesitated and stepped back because of its sense of its own sinfulness and its unworthiness. God perceived with His quick eyes my hesitation in going forward in the direction of the feast. He, therefore, came nearer to me and sweetly asked me if I lacked anything.

I replied that I was not fit to be his guest at the feast and that what I lacked was any real worth. God said that I was surely fit to be His guest. I asked how an unsympathetic and thankless man like me could be fit to sit at His feast as a guest. I told my dear God that I could not even look at Him because of my sense of shame. Thereupon God took hold of my hand and smiling, said to me, “do not feel any hesitation in looking at me. After all, it was I who gave you those eyes, and therefore I bid you make use of them.”

I said: “It is right. Lord, that you gave me these eyes, but I have been misusing them and have therefore rendered them unworthy of looking at you. Let me, therefore, go where I deserve to be because of my sinful deeds and my sense of shame.” I certainly do not deserve to stay here with you. God thereupon said: “You know very well that the blame for your sins is no longer yours because that blame has already been taken by my son Christ upon, himself. (Christ took upon himself the sins of all mankind).” I replied: “In that case, my dear God, I shall stay, but only as a waiter at the dinner table not as a participant because I do not deserve that honour.” God, who is Love, said: “No you must sit down to dinner as my guest and you must taste the food which I have to offer.” Thereupon I sat down and ate the food at God’ s table.

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In this poem, God is represented as Love, meaning that God is the source and fountain of all love and that God‘s love for mankind is infinite. God forgives man for his sins provided man approaches God in a spirit of remorse, repentance, and humility. God knows that every human being commits sins, and therefore what God wants is that human beings should realize their sinfulness and should feel sorry for their sins. The act of repentance implies spiritual improvement and spiritual progress. It is only the unrepentant sinner who incurs the wrath of God. The repentant sinner can be sure of God‘s mercy and forgiveness.

The poem is written in the form of a dialogue between the poet and God, thus reminding us of the poem which has the title “Dialogue” and which begins: “Sweetest Saviour, if my soul….”. In other words, the poet here also is holding a private conversation with God, thus showing an intimate relationship with Him. We are to imagine, of course, that the soul of the poet, after the poet‘s death, stands before God, feeling acutely conscious of its sinfulness. The feast to which the poet‘s soul has been invited is the one which sinfulness. The feast to which the poet‘s soul has been invited is the one which God is to hold in Heaven and at which God himself will serve the guests. This feast should not be confused with the sacrament in the church, the ceremony known as the Eucharist where every member of the congregation is served with bread and wine symbolizing the body and the blood respectively of Christ. This feast means the heavenly communion which the souls will attend after departing from the earth.

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The dialogue between the poet and God is intended to emphasize the poet’s sense of his own unworthiness and God’s unlimited capacity for forgiveness. When the soul of the poet hesitates to advance toward the feast God speaks encouraging words to the soul. When the poet admits that he was unkind ad ungrateful and does not, therefore, have the courage to look at God. God smiles and, taking the poet by his hand, tells him that the eyes with which the poet is to look at Him were God’s own gift to him and that the poet should not hesitate to use them. When the poet says that he has married his eyes by misusing them, God assures him that his sins, as also the sins of other people, were taken by Christ upon himself. Indeed, God’s whole attitude here is one of such profound benevolence that even the reader is overwhelmed. The poem is, indeed, charged with intense feeling, and that feeling is effectively communicated to us.

The poem alternates iambic pentameter (a line of verse with five metrical feet, each consisting of one short(unstressed) syllable followed by one long (stressed)syllable)and iambic trimeter(a line of verse with three metrical feet consisting of one short (unstressed) syllable followed by one long (stressed)syllable). The poem has four stanzas. The first stanza of the poem contains one line. The second line contains five lines. The last two lines contain six lines each.

In Love(III) personification and metaphors are used. Personification is a figure of speech in which something non human is given human attributes. Metaphor is another figure of speech which makes a comparison between two things that are unrelated but share some common characteristics without using like or as. The comparisons maybe implied or hidden. Love is personified through out the poem. Love is like another character. A few quotes are “Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,” (1), “But quick-ey’d Lover observing me grow slack” (3), and every time Love talked. The metaphor in the poem is Love. Love can be viewed as god while the guest in the poem is the author.

The theme in Love(III) is how god, Love, forgives the sinner, the narrator, and invites him into his house. The narrator was ashamed to be there because of what he had done but Love just forgave him and invited him in. “Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,/Guilty of dust and sin” (1-2), ‘”I, the unkind, ungrateful? ah my dear,/I cannot look on thee.”‘ (9-10), and lines fifteen to eighteen ‘”And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”/”My dear, then I will serve.”/”You must sit down, says Love, “and taste my meat.”/so I did sit and eat.’

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