Write a note Herbert’s use of metaphysical conceit


Metaphysical poets are brought under severe criticism because of their conceits. It is believed by critics like Johnson that the use of conceits is a difficult term of metaphysical poetry. But in the 20th century, it is proved that conceits are the source of a proper blending of thoughts and emotions. Herbert‘s (3 April 1593 – 1 March 1633) poetry abounds in metaphysical conceits.

More Notes: George Herbert

Various Conceits 

Herbert has forged two kinds of conceits, the Petrarchan and the metaphysical in his poems. Petrarchan conceits are those which merely strengthen the idea or make it clearer or emphasize it, while metaphysical conceits are those which astound us by their openness or originality. 

Wishing to fly as a Lark

In his poem ‘Easter Wings’ (1633), George Herbert desires to fly upwards like the bird, Skylark and sings spontaneously on Sunday to celebrate Jesus Christ’s victory over death. He also dreams that at the end Christ Christ should carve new feathers on the poet’s damaged wings so that he can fly upward faster and with greater speed. These two notions are conceits. These two comparisons, especially the first one, would be considered generic although the second comparison has a touch of plainness. 

Images depicting Conceits

Metaphysical conceits are also present in the poem ‘The Collar.’ In this poem, the poet supposes himself as free as the road, loose as the wind, and vast as the storehouse. Thus the poet continues to build one image after another where we find a combination of thought and feeling.


In fine, it is true that as a member of the metaphysical school of poetry, George Herbert uses metaphysical conceits in his poetry on a large scale. Most of his conceits are delightful as they grow from his devotional mind.

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

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