Please explain "The Collar," a poem by George Herbert.

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

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The Collar suggests that life is hard when a person must keep to a strict moral and holy code and therefore, in this poem, Herbert uses his rantings as part of a cathartic process, at the end of which he is able to  recognize

a patient God who ultimately gives more than he asks.

Once he realizes that it is not necessary to be bound by the “rope of sands” and any moral restrictions, and there will be no more "sighs" and "tears" to frustrate him, he is determined to make the most of "double pleasures." The speaker even attempts to make his own saying, almost like a proverb

 “He that forbears/ To suit and serve his need,/ Deserves his load.”

The rebelliousness and almost chaotic structure of the poem comes to a more subtle end. After the rantings of an angry man, restricted almost literally by a "collar" around his neck, the conclusion is hopeful and calm. For all the speaker's uncertainty, God is accepting and protective of all his children.

The "Child"  who answers "Lord" is able to come to a realization that service is not a burden and devotion brings its own freedom.




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