Annotations in poem the pulley by George Herbert annotations and answers
“The Pulley” is a poem by George Herbert, an English metaphysical poet from the 17th century. It explores themes of divine providence and the nature of human desires. Here are some annotations and possible answers to questions about the poem:
- When God at first made man, Having a glass of blessings standing by, “Let us,” said He, “pour on him all we can. Let the world’s riches, which dispersèd lie, Contract into a span.”
Annotation: The poem begins by describing God’s creation of man and His desire to bless him abundantly. The glass of blessings refers to the collection of all the good things God has in store for mankind.
- So strength first made a way; Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure. When almost all was out, God made a stay, Perceiving that alone, of all His treasure, Rest in the bottom lay.
Annotation: God bestows upon man various qualities like strength, beauty, wisdom, honor, and pleasure. However, before pouring out the last blessing, God pauses, realizing that something important is missing.
- “For if I should,” said He, “Bestow this jewel also on My creature, He would adore My gifts instead of Me, And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature; So both should losers be.
Annotation: God explains His reasoning for withholding the final blessing, the “jewel.” He fears that if He gives this blessing, mankind would focus on the gifts rather than the giver, and become absorbed in the material world, neglecting their spiritual relationship with God. In this scenario, both God and humanity would be at a loss.
- Yet let him keep the rest, But keep them with repining restlessness; Let him be rich and weary, that at least, If goodness lead him not, yet weariness May toss him to My breast.
Annotation: Despite withholding the final blessing, God allows mankind to possess all the other blessings. However, He adds a condition: let man keep these blessings with a sense of discontent and restlessness. By experiencing weariness and dissatisfaction with worldly riches and pleasures, man may eventually turn to God for solace and find true rest and fulfillment in Him.
- “That gold refined is faith, That worldly honor is but a blast, That beauty, wit, and strength are only wraith, That pleasure but a bubble be, or past, That, in us, rarest faith.
Annotation: The speaker reveals that the withheld blessing is faith. The speaker suggests that faith is more valuable than refined gold, worldly honor is temporary, beauty, wit, and strength are illusory, and pleasure is fleeting. The poem emphasizes the importance of faith in God as the ultimate source of true fulfillment and rest.
- “Yet be not gone; Though I be with thee, yet I am not gone; My fleshly tomb, that in a womb am grown, Shall leave behind a soul immortal, pure, And I shall uncorrupted shine; And Death, who sets all free, Hath left no prey for him that’s left behind, But native Nothing, and Mortality,—
Annotation: The speaker addresses Death, assuring that even though the physical body may die and decay, the soul will continue to exist. The soul is described as immortal and pure, destined to shine without corruption. Death is depicted as having no power over the soul, as it leaves behind only nothingness and mortality.
- And while Thy willing soul transpires At every pore with instant fires, Now let this day,