Attending to the Middle: George Herbert, Imagination, and the Structure of the Brain

Deanna Smid


George Herbert appears to have had little use for the faculty of the imagination, which he calls ‘poisonous’. And yet, The Temple may have a much more nuanced engagement with the faculty, particularly because of the imagination’s mediatory role in the brain and body. Indeed, poems such as ‘The Windows’ play with the early modern English understanding of the imagination as the ambassador in the brain between sense and memory. The imagination, thought to be a physical organ in the middle of the cranium, was literally central in the brain, and was also central, this article posits, to devotional poetry such as Herbert’s.


The Temple; devotional poetry; faculty psychology

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