The Collar Summary

The Collar

BY GEORGE HERBERT (3 April 1593 – 1 March 1633)

About the Title

About the title: The poem’s title is symbolic. It seems to represent the relationship between man and the Almighty. “The Collar” of this poem refers to the clerical collar that wears a religious symbol. Closing the collar refers to withdrawing the dedication to the minister. The title can also be interpreted to mean avoiding church restrictions.

Detailed Summary

“The Collar” is a poem by Welsh poet George Herbert published in 1633. It is a part of his collection of poems, “The Temple.” “The Collar” portrays a man who is reiterating his earlier struggle with faith. The poem begins with the religious constraints of the speaker. The speaker announces that he will leave his current post, which means he is going to give up his religious life. He questions his religious commitment, which has not brought him fulfilment.

He realizes that he can lead a life that will provide him with double pleasures. He has not got such pleasures while leading a pure Christian life. The speaker then announces that his life will be as “free as the road” and as “loose as the wind.” He means to say that he wants to live boundlessly or without restriction. He says that he has lost a lot. He also asks if there is anything of beauty left. He wonders if he is alone in this loss. He laments that he has nothing to show for the life he has lived for God.

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The speaker then decides not to think about living a righteous life and to leave this suffering state. He chooses to live only for himself. He claims his cage or limitation was built upon “petty thoughts.” That means that the Creator himself has not caged the speaker, but rather the speaker has caged himself by believing in a false spirituality. The speaker again tells himself about the life of freedom leaving this life. He assures himself that he will bind his fears so that they can no longer lean on him. He claims that a religious life implies heaviness on anyone who wants to serve the Lord. The speaker suddenly begins to fly into a mad state of anger. This madness indicates that he is indecisive.

But suddenly, he hears a voice. The sound is like “Child!” Then he immediately calms himself down and answers with a simple recognition, “My Lord.” The speaker acknowledges God’s presence, feels rebuked, and immediately obeys again. The call of the Creator has proved that his commitment to religion has not been in vain, and he forgets his extremities.

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Ruhul Huda
Ruhul Huda

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