[The Court of the Temple, Jerusalem, Model]from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert:


Ana- { M A R Y }gram.

HOw well her name an Army doth present,
In whom the Lord of hosts did pitch his tent!

Anagram: When the letters of one word can be rearranged to form another word.

Scan from the 1633 Edition of The Temple:

Page from The Temple 1633 Edition

Scan from the Bodleian MS:

Detail of a page from the Bodleian MS

Note on Interpretation: The first level of interpretation is within the poem; what the poem reveals about itself using metaphor, meter, form, subject matter and sounds of language. The second level of interpretation is the relation of one poem to the author's other poems and vice versa. Herbert's "Anagram" is the text book case of interpretation and reinterpretation by sequencial relation to other poems within The Temple. Placement of a poem among other poems is important. Order, sequence and grouping completes the meaning. Although "Anagram" is not in the Williams MS, it appears 42nd in the Bodleian MS, between "Church-musick" and "Church-lock and key," breaking up [or making it a part of] the "Furniture Poems." In the 1633 printed edition, it appears 55th, between "Avarice" and "To All Angels and Saints." It is the only poem in the British MS that changes its position in the 1633 edition. Placed before "To All Angels and Saints," the later position confirms the reevaluation of the importance of Mary in Anglican theology and liturgical practice.

Addenda: It is important, but questionable, who moved "Anagram." Ferrar, as editor, may have moved it to make the devotional point that Mary and the other saints are examples of virtue not objects/higher beings to be prayed to. He would emphasize Christ as the only mediator between God and his people.
    Herbert may have placed it among the "Furniture Poems," not as a furniture poem but as worship within the church. [Seen as an epigraph on an image of Mary, the poem can be included as a "Furniture Poem."] This placement allows a dual interpretation: devotion to Mary or devotion of Mary.
    Ferrar avoids the misunderstanding.

Essays on Poetry Analysis (understanding the internal relations), Interpretation (evaluating the levels of meaning) and Exercises (to develop insight) in Herbert's work.

Use a Sortable Table to arrange the poems in different orders, Williams MS, Bodleian MS and 1633 printed edition.

1633 Poem Index George Herbert & The Temple Home Page