The article investigates the reception of the seventeenth-century poet George Herbert, mainly in the context of British poetry. Although the Christian content of Herbert's work is now outside the experience and even knowledge of many readers and poets, there has been a new recognition in the past half-century of elements in his poetry that accord with the contemporary climate. In the post-Adorno day, his questioning of the adequacy of language strikes a sympathetic note. The article examines some contemporary poetic responses to Herbert, many of them polemical, which show that even poets who do not share Herbert's Christian belief have been fascinated by his use of language and formal inventiveness. Particular attention is given to Herbert's importance for R. S. Thomas, who takes up many of Herbert's religious concerns in poetry permeated by yearning for an apparently absent God.
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