Virtue Essay

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Heims is a writer and teacher living in Paris. In this essay, he attempts to show how a contemporary reader might approach Herbert's early-seventeenth-century poem “Virtue.”

If poetry that is nearly four centuries old, like Herbert's lyric poem “Virtue,” is to be meaningful to contemporary readers, something within that poetry must transcend its own time, bridging the distance between history and experience. If a poem cannot do these things, then it is only a museum piece—an artifact, a remnant of the past. Such a poem may be interesting to the general reader as a curiosity, for the glimpse it gives of another time; otherwise, it may be interesting to specialists and scholars as material to put under the microscope and dissect, allowing them to track down learned allusions and write largely unread scholarly articles. What, then, does “Virtue” have to offer a contemporary, common reader, rather...

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This section contains 2,034 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Virtue Study Guide
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