George Herbert (1593-1633) was a Welsh poet and priest in the Anglican church. His work is described as metaphysical and among the most influential in British letters. Most of work, as suspected, was of religious themes, marked by precise language and unique imagery. Many of his poems have endured as religious hymns, including “King of Glory, King of Peace.”
George Herbert was born into an aristocratic Welsh family, distantly related to the Earls of Pembroke. He attended Trinity College, Cambridge in 1609 and became the University’s Public Orator. It was in this position that Herbert attracted the notice of King James I. Briefly serving in Parliament in 1624 and 1625, George Herbert envisioned a political career until the death of James I, at which time he renewed his studies towards ordination. He was later appointed rector at Fuggleston St Peter with Bemerton in rural Salisbury, some 75 miles southwest of London.
In poor health most of his life, George Herbert died at the age of 39 in Bemerton. Shortly before his death, he sent the manuscript of The Temple to a publisher. This volume contained the entirety of his poetic output. A volume of prose works, Herbert’s Remains, appeared in 1652. However, his baroque poetic style fell out of favor for many centuries, taking until modern times before the lyric metaphysical variety of George Herbert’s work to be appreciated by academics and critics.