Please explain "Aaron," a poem by George Herbert.

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durbanville's profile pic

durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Despite a place in the Church and the responsibility that accompanies such a position within the Church where the speaker has "Holiness on the head", the speaker finds "profaneness in my head. " He is trusted with the souls of others yet has "darkness in my breast."

A realization that this is not good for any congregation or the speaker himself he turns to God and to the "music" so that he may "be in Him new drest."

Feeling renewed and uplifted - "Perfect and light in my dear breast"- he can move forward with confidence: "My doctrine tuned by Christ." He is inspired to call the people as he is now ready to preach : "Aaron's drest." Any concerns are now overriden by a

 calm confidence

as God "lives in me."

poetrymfa's profile pic

poetrymfa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

George Herbert's poem "Aaron" is a reflection of Herbert's ordained role in the Church of England and his struggles with a faith-related calling. In the poem, the speaker comments on the clothing and ornamentation of an Aaron. The term "Aaron" refers to the brother of Moses, an Old Testament priest who wore holy robes and devoted his life to serving God. While an Aaron has "[h]oliness on the head" and "[l]ight and perfections on the breast," the speaker himself feels that he is full of defects and profanity.

Only Christ provides the speaker with the purity he desires. The presence of God's son provides the speaker with "[a]nother head... another heart and breast." He creates for the speaker a sense of being newly (and more appropriately) dressed before the Church and before God. With Christ living on within the speaker, he is prepared to take on his religious duties.

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