Against Them Who Lay Unchastity To The Sex Of Women

actions have been undercut by a cruel deity. He accuses God directly, claiming, "Thou didst betray me to a ling'ring book, / And wrap me in a gown," where the book refers to his education and the gown to both the academic and religious communities. He also references "his birth," suggesting he was born to privilege, as was Herbert, a fact that should have afforded him some power.

In the ninth stanza Herbert employs a technique characteristic of metaphysical poets and poetry, the use of contraries, as the speaker says,

Yet lest perchance I should too happy be In my unhappiness,

Turning my purge to food, thou throwest me Into more sickness.

He follows in the next stanza by wondering, "what thou wilt do with me," and finds no answers in his books. He goes so far as to wish himself a tree, which at least birds could trust, "and I should be just." While the suggestion contains some hint at humor, it also signals desperation. Herbert does not conclude on an optimistic note. His speaker can only say that he "must be meek," and in that meekness he "must be stout." He even considers seeking a new master. However, he concludes with a contradiction that nevertheless indicates he would like to remain with his present Lord: "Ah, my dear God! though I am clean forgot, / Let me not love thee, if I love thee not."

As a result of his experiences the speaker first suffers rebellion but in the end shows humility. He seems to recognize not only his personal inadequacy, but also the inadequacy of his language, particularly figurative language, to express the proper relationship with God. The speaker remains frustrated, a state proper for a mere human in the presence of his Lord.

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