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"COLLAR, THE" George Herbert (1633) One of the most famous of the poems by George Herbert, his autobiographical "The Collar" acts to protest restrictions he experienced in his life as a man of God who suffered many unwanted attentions and demands. He expressed to acquaintances his desire for an uneventful obscurity, a life in which others did not so depend upon him. His thoughts channel through his speaker, who remains burdened by expectations of others when he most desires escape. A protest poem until its conclusion, "The Collar" also serves to reassert through the obviously anguished speaker Herbert's devotion to his calling.
Herbert opens in lines depicting clear frustration as his speaker asserts, "I struck the board, and cried, No more. / I will abroad." Although the reader does not yet know what the speaker desires "no more" of, his plan to stage an escape is clear. While abroad literally meant to readers of Herbert's day a visit to the Continent, it could be seen in a broader sense as a term reflecting the speaker's desire to broaden his horizons. He desires a journey that will remove him from what seems to be a narrowly restrictive existence. He next questions his own statement, as the volume of his voice decreases: "What? Shall I ever sigh and pine? / My lines and life are free; free as the road." The speaker now notes that nothing physical prevents him from traveling. Herbert employs additional figurative language (figure of speech) with the similes "Loose as the wind, as large as store," to describe the freedom the speaker should feel. However, something restrains him. Herbert next
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