I need a summary of "The Pulley," by George Herbert

3 Answers

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

George Herbert's twenty-line spiritual fable of alternating rhyme narrates the creation of man that borrows form the myth of Pandora's box and the Book of Genesis. The Creator delves into His jar of blessings that contains virtues and attributes, bestowing strength, beauty, wisdom, honor, and pleasure upon man. However, the Creator restrains Himself and keeps man restless so that he will not become complacent and remain content within the confines of Nature. For, as the poet Robert Browning writes,
Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for? 
Wishing that man reach for heaven for his peace rather than being complacent with nature, the Creator uses the metaphorical "pulley" of restlessness which will draw man to reach for heaven and attain spiritual perfection, rather than being satisfied on earth with Nature. 
Let him be rich and weary, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
   May toss him to my breast.”
It is in his weariness, then, that man will realize his imperfections and his need for God and the spiritual life. Then, he will reach for God's "pulley" and seek heaven. 
mlsldy3's profile pic

mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

The poem, "The Pulley," is one of those poems, that are deep in meaning. It is a comforting sort of poem. God is shown as a God who knows everything and how everything will turn out. 

The poem starts out with God creating man. He wants to pour all of His blessings into man. He knows that man is a beautiful, strong creation, and He wants to reward him. The one thing he doesn't want to give to man is His rest. Why you may ask? Rest is so important for a person. Rest is seen as kind of a Pandora's box. God knows that if he gives rest to man, then man will come to worship all the things in nature, instead of worshiping God. 

"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" In this line from the poem, we see that God is concerned that man will rest in Nature, and not in Him. God had full knowledge that His treasures would tire man and make him exhausted. He wanted man to find true rest only in Him. He wants all of us to come to Him, for He alone can truly give us the rest we so desperately seek.

jmj616's profile pic

jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

In "The Pulley," George Herbert creates a myth about God's creation of the world.  

When God created man, he wanted to give his new creatiion all possible blessings, such as beauty, wisdom, honour, and pleasure.  God gives these blessings to man by pouring them out of a "glass of blessings." The only blessing that God leaves in the bottle is "Rest."  This gift is so precious that God does not want to give it to man; if man would have it, he would worship "Nature, not the God of Nature."

God prefers that man should be "rich and weary," so that "weariness may toss him to my breast." In other words, if man will at least be tired, he will have reason to fear God, the one being who, in the words of the Psalms [121:4], does not "slumber nor sleep."