Easter Wings


Word Count: 1576

The poem "Easter Wings" by George Herbert is a poem full
of deep imagery not only in its words but also in the visual
structure of the stanzas. In Herbertís poem why does he use
a shape poem? Because he wanted this poem to have many
different levels and meanings. Herbert also used huge
amounts of mental imagery so that the reader can find new
truths and meanings each time he or she reads it. The poem
tells of the poets desire to fly with Christ as a result of Jesus\'
sacrifice, death and resurrection. The argument as to the
proper presentation of this poem is easily explained with the
help of the poet\'s address to the "Lord" in the opening line of
the first page in the original text. Because this poem is
actually a work within a work with many hidden meanings
and suggestions. To fully understand it all, one must examine
the poem as a whole in greater detail. The poet is the
obvious speaker in the poem due to the common use of "I"
and "me" through out the poem. The audience is also
revealed in the first line of the 1634 edition of the poem with
the use of the word "Lord"; meaning the Christian Savior,
Jesus Christ who rose from the dead. But there is question
as to where the poem truly begins. This is due to the splitting
of the poem onto two separate pages, and then turned ninety
degrees so it must be read sideways. This is done on
purpose to invoke the vision of wings on both pages. This
fact must be considered when evaluating where it begins and
whether it is in fact two poems instead of one larger one.
"Lord, who createth man in wealth and store" is the
beginning of this poem, helping to immediately establish the
audience in the first word. As well, this fact help to reveal
that this poem is also a prayer of Herbertís. The appropriate
layout of the poem is still the "winged" look necessary for the
full impact of the imagery. It is the imagery in this poem that
deserves special notice as it gives a much deeper
understanding of what Herbert is saying. The first stanza
shows the fall of man from the "wealth" that is in God\'s
holiness into the "decaying" life of a sinful nature:

"Lord, who createst man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more
Till he became
Most poor:"

As the stanza\'s lines "decays" in length, the imagery goes
from good to bleak finally ending with the eventual poorness
of mankind. In the first line where it shows how man was
born into abundance with full potential. Yet somehow
managed to abuse this potential in habitual sin and so abuse
the gift that God had bestowed upon us. As one reads the
first stanza, one feels it dwindle and wither away into
nothingness; this verse does, indeed, decrease both in
emotion and context. At first reading this poem you may not
see the complex correlation between the shape and the
actual meaning of the poem. Herbert intended this in his
poem probably to attach a reader to his poem to find the
true meaning as to why this poem was in this shape and has
lines large in size and then they decline. But then the emotion
in the poem picks up steam again in the next stanza and
gains the size and exact structure the first stanza but in
opposite order, from small to large. The second stanza of
the poem is turning in emotion and finishing with the poet
taking "flight" and completing the second wing:

"With thee
O let me rise
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me."

This stanza is rich in imagery. It seems like this stanza "beats
its wing" against the decline of the first stanza, showing how
the "fall" of man "furthered the flight" in Herbert as it paved
the way for the crucifixion of Jesus. It was this action which
redeemed man so they could have fellowship with God
again. While in the first stanza you see Herbert using he and
the word man, where as in the second stanza the poem
becomes more personal to Herbert when he uses me. This
part of the poem could be meant as the personal prayer to
god thanking him for the death of his son and our salvation .
Also of note is the use of "larks, harmoniously" to give a
beautiful, resonate feel to the poem;