The Flower

The Flower

by George Herbert 

How fresh, oh Lord, how sweet and clean
Are thy returns! even as the flowers in spring;
To which, besides their own demean,
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring.
Grief melts away
Like snow in May,
As if there were no such cold thing.

Who would have thought my shriveled heart
Could have recovered greenness? It was gone
Quite underground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown,
Where they together
All the hard weather,
Dead to the world, keep house unknown.

These are thy wonders, Lord of power,
Killing and quickening, bringing down to hell
And up to heaven in an hour;
Making a chiming of a passing-bell.
We say amiss
This or that is:
Thy word is all, if we could spell.

Oh that I once past changing were,
Fast in thy Paradise, where no flower can wither!
Many a spring I shoot up fair,
Offering at heaven, growing and groaning thither;
Nor doth my flower
Want a spring shower,
My sins and I joining together.

But while I grow in a straight line,
Still upwards bent, as if heaven were mine own,
Thy anger comes, and I decline:
What frost to that? what pole is not the zone
Where all things burn,
When thou dost turn,
And the least frown of thine is shown?

And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing. Oh, my only light,
It cannot be
That I am he
On whom thy tempests fell all night.

These are thy wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flowers that glide;
Which when we once can find and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us where to bide;
Who would be more,
Swelling through store,
Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.

Summary of The Flower

  • Popularity of “The Flower”: George Herbert, a great English poet, wrote The Flower. It is a thought-provoking poem about God’s abundant grace. The poem speaks about the speaker’s relationship with God. It also explains how the changing cycle of nature impacts his life. The poem also tells about nature weaved with God’s creativity.
  • “The Flower” As a Representative of Nature: This poem is an expression of wonder. It begins when the speaker expresses his pleasure for the changes of the seasons. He relates God’s pleasure to spring, and he admires the arrival of joyous spring. The poet believes that the winter is the sign of God’s anger because everything becomes lifeless. He compares himself with a flower that shrivels and disappears from the face of the earth when it is cold and prospers again when the earth is warm. Unlike the flower, his shriveled heart recovers in spring.
    As the poem continues, he expresses his gratitude for the Lord for constantly renewing the created world. He admires the way God uses His power to change the cycle of nature. The spring is a season of God’s grace, so the poet tries to enlighten his soul in spring every year. However, unfortunately, when he tries to direct his path towards heaven, God’s anger arrives in the form of winter, and he loses hope. He believes that this seasonal shift is not purposeless. The poet also emphasizes that we all belong in God’s garden as our life is similar to a tiny flower.
  • Major Themes in “The Flower”: Spirituality, nature, and resurrection are the major themes of this poem. Throughout the poem, the speaker tries to explain the changing cycle of nature that shows the power and glory of God. Unlike natural objects, humans also suffer emotionally and spiritually in winter until spring comes and restores life on earth. The arrival of the spring after the bleak winter brings joys and the passing bells that usually ring to indicate death, turn into festive chimes. The speaker tries to understand, decipher what God has planned for us. Ge concludes that if we can see things accordingly, God will surely reward us. Moreover, if our arrogance blinds us, we will surely abandon our heaven by our pride.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “The Flower”

Literary devices are important elements of a literary text. They bring richness to the text and make the readers understand hidden meanings. George Herbert has also made this poem superb by using figurative language. Here is the analysis of some literary devices used in this poem.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /ai/ in “But while I grow in a straight line” and the sound of /o/ in “These are thy wonders, Lord of love”.
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /g/ in “Offering at heaven, growing and groaning thither” and /th/ and the /l/ sounds in “These are thy wonders, Lord of love”.
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, such as the sounds of /ng/ and /g/ in “growing and groaning thither” and “Killing and quickening, bringing down to hell.”
  4. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

“It cannot be
That I am he
On whom thy tempests fell all night.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “To see their mother-root, when they have blown”, “Thou hast a garden for us where to bide” and “To make us see we are but flowers that glide.”
  2. Rhetorical Question: Rhetorical question is a question that is asked to make the point clear without expecting an answer. For example, “Could have recovered greenness?” and “And the least frown of thine is shown?”
  3. Simile: It is a figure of speech used to compare a person and objects with something else to make meanings clear to the readers. For example, “Still upwards bent, as if heaven were mine own”. Here the heaven is compared to personal treasure,
  4. Symbolism: Symbolism is a use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings different from their literal meanings. Here, “garden” symbolizes heaven, and “flower” is the symbol of spirituality

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “The Flower”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “own/zone”, “burn/turn”, “be/he” and “glide/bide.”
  2. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABABCCB rhyme scheme, and this pattern continues until the end.
  3. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are seven stanzas in this poem, with each having seven verses.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful while talking about the rewards God has promised for His people.

        “These are thy wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flowers that glide;
Which when we once can find and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us where to bide.”