George Herbert (1593-1633) like Donne had both a political career (as public orator at Cambridge University and as a Member of Parliament, and religious career as a pastor at Bremerton). His poems reflect a consonant attempt to a comfortable and lasting relationship between himself and God. These attempts were frustrated by Herbert’s sense of his own sinfulness and belief that human beings were inherently unworthy of God’s love.

Herbert’s poetry is notable for its craft.

In the 164 poems that make up the temple’’, no stanzaic form of rhyme scheme is repeated exactly from one poem to the next.

The Poem

The Pulley

As the title implies, the poem deals with God’s

Means of drawing us to himself’’ {palmer}


When God at first made man,

Having a glass of blessing standing by,

‘’Let us, ‘’said he, ‘’pour on him all we



Let the world’s riches, which dispersed lie,

Contract into a span.”                                                 5

So strength first made way

Then beauty flowed; then wisdom, honour,


When almost all was out, God made a stay,

Perceiving that alone, of all his treasure,

Rest in the bottom lay.                                               10


“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 God of Nature;

So both should loser be.                                             15


“yet let him keep the rest,

But keep them with repining restlessness;

Let him be rich, and weary, that at least,

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If goodness lead him not, yet weariness

May toss him to my breast.”                                      20



In line 1-5 God expressing his love for mankind declares that “ let all created  world richly endowments be poured on mankind as shower of blessing. He emphasizes further that the bountiful blessings that scattered throughout the length and breadth of the universe offered mankind for his early enjoyment.

In line 6-10. The speaker in itemizing the catalogue of the blessing or worldly treasure other lines reveals that God first of all bestowed mankind with strength. And goes on to add natural beauty, he further bestowed mankind wisdom, then released honour, and lastly offered him pleasure of relaxation. When God has however accomplished this great task and has finished the distribution of the above treasure to mankind he pondered a while examine the attitude of man. Realizing the non-appreciative tendencies of mankind to God gesture, the poverty of his thought, he tried to hesitate in releasing the most valuable treasure which formed the bottom line of the catalogue of the gifts or the most expensive jewel of inestimable value). At last volunteered it (released) with condition.

In line 11-15, God realizing the unworthy nature man, his ignorance of the superlative position of God ad supremacy in the Hierarchy of power and might, he expresses disappointment in the character of man .he wondered whether man will not misuse the last  and the most treasured jewel, if he gives it to him. Judging from man’s ingratitude, God concludes that man in his sheer ignorance will chose to worship the material gifts instead of the giver of such endowment. God therefore lament that man will rather depend on the creation instead of the creator. The action will benefit neither god nor man. “So both should losers be”

In lines 16 20, God resolves unreservedly to offer man all his bountiful blessings. He however released with the storms of life. The accompanying storms vary from: chronic sickness, famine, financial problems, joblessness, childlessness, poverty, failure in examination, business, and in career. When man is faced with any of these difficulties in life(life’s storm) and has sought for solution in every human endeavour and failed, he will resort to God the ultimate solution solver. This is explains in:“if Goodness lead him not, yet weariness, may loss him to my breast.”


  1. The uniqueness and the supremacy of God’s power over man.
  2. Only God has solution to man’s problem.
  3. The vanity of abandoning God in pursuit of material things.
  4. God exercises absolute control over all creation.


Alliteration: made man “M” alliteration line 1

The poet employs the use of repetition for purses of emphasis and to enhance the unity of the poem.

Certain words that are phrases are used to achieve this aim:

The word “God” is repeated four times in the poem, it appears in each stanza.

The “Let” appears in 3,4,16 and 17. The pronoun “he” is used in 3 repeated in 11, and 13.

The word “when” is used in line1, repeated in 8.

The word “rest” is used in line 16 to draw comparism and repeated so in 19. The word “nature” is used twice in line 14.


Metaphor: this is direct comparism of unrelated thing in “repining restlessness” is a metaphor for suffering or difficulties.

World riches” is metaphorically world treasures.


Allusion: this is reference to historical event or abstract thing that is unrelated to the story. The phrase “let us” is reference to biblical story of creation of man in gen 1:26.


This figure uses half to complete full is used in the word “breast” in the last line of the poem. God’s breast is God himself


This is associated with the rhyming pattern of vowel sound in a line of poem.

Examples are “made” “man” “a” assonates. Line 1, “made” “away” “a” assonates (line 6) made” “a” “stay” “a’’ assonates. Line (8) “would adore” “Ou” assonates “so” “both” “o” assonates, should loser’’ “U” assonates, yet let” “e” assonates.

Rhyming scheme:

The four stanza poem is arranged in alternate rhyming with the last line of the five limes standing on it. the rhyming reacts.


  1. Discuss George Herbert is “the pulley” as an expression of vanity.
  2. Discuss the use of symbolism in George Herbert’s poem “the pulley

    See also






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