Giving equal weight to the man and his work, this is the perfect introduction to a parson-poet who has fallen out of fashionBiography is one of the most marketable genres of our age, and literary criticism is not. It is therefore a bold move for Allen Lane to publish a book that fulfils its subtitle so exactly. Herbert’s life does not superficially offer much for the biographer: no wars, no quarrels, a happy marriage, disengagement from the religious controversies of the day in favour of an unwavering adherence to the Church of England. What made him extraordinary in an age of colourful characters was the poetry, and that is accordingly at the centre of this book.Converting it into biography is not, however, at all easy, as it is rarely possible to correlate individual poems with external events. When John Drury, chaplain of All Souls College, Oxford, couples the life and the poetry, it is in order to get inside not only Herbert’s mind but his craftsmanship, to introduce his readers to the work as well as the man. Alongside his narrative of outward events he offers a running commentary on a full half of the 173 poems that make up …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books