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The Imagery in the Collar

  • Date Submitted: 09/22/2012 07:13 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 61.4 
  • Words: 376
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The complex metaphors and images of George Herbert’s “The Collar” has aroused considerable critical interest. The very title of the poem, "The Collar," suggests something stiff and restrictive. "Collar" is also the neck piece we strap around dogs' necks for purposes of controlling them,; of keeping them out of trouble. "Collar" connotes the white band worn by the clergy, and perhaps it is the role of priest the poem alludes to. Late in life (if anything in a forty-year lifespan can be considered to be "late"), Herbert took holy orders and therefore wore the clerical collar. This collar symbolizes the priest's role as servant. The speaker chafes at being "in suit" , and once again the image has at least a double meaning, representing the clerical suit, but also the attendance required of a vassal at his lord's court. A third meaning of "suit" is also possible: the act of pressing one's claim in legal proceedings.
The word collar also has nautical connotations. When one understands the nautical meaning of the word collar that it is a band of rope used to support the main mast , to restrain the motion of the mast and to ensure a safe voyage, the relationship between the nautical collar and the religious collar becomes very clear. The nautical collar keeps the mast upright, the religious collar keeps man upright. The sighing and the pinning of the speaker of course suggests his discontent and this complaint is resounded by the wind. The speaker’s striking the board is a gesture of defiance and his cry is one of protest rather than becalmed.
Another imagery used in the poem is that of a cage. It is another image of restraint. The word "cage" suggests a contraption for animals; once again, the purpose is not to harm the creature, but merely to restrict movement, which can be a good thing, can even prevent the creature from getting hurt by its impetuosity and curiosity about what lies beyond the confines. Still, we always feel a little sorry for an animal penned up in...


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