Not sure what poem Mike refers to that was cruciform. (See Mike's comment on previous post). One of David Adams' prayers is cross shaped, but it's pushing it to call it poetry, I think.
When it comes to shape poems, the few examples in George Herbert's The Temple are skilled artifices of poetic playfulness. The shape of the poem images its content. In the poem below, the four capitalised words distil the essentials into spiritual concentrate: - The Altar
ALTAR -> HEART-> SACRIFICE-> ALTAR.
One of the very best books on Herbert's poetry by Chana Bloch is called Spelling the Word, in which Bloch demonstrates Herbert's virtuosity with biblical text. The instructions for the tabernacle and the altar in the Pentateuch, the worship on the altar of the heart that is Jeremiah's new covenant, and the spiritual worship that is the living sacrifice in Romans 12 are only three of many texts which provide layers of meaning and suggestion throughout this poem. The poems are first written as records of Herbert's personal devotion, their essence drawn from his own scripture-informed contemplative conversations with God. Of course, unlike today, Herbert was able in his time to assume biblical literacy in those readers who came after him. But for those who still hear the scriptural symphonies through the Word orchestrated, this poem remains disconcertingly clever and to the point, and the product of a devotional genius.
A broken ALTAR, Lord thy servant rears,
Made of a heart, and cemented with teares:
Whose parts are as thy hand did frame;
No workmans tool hath touch'd the same
A HEART alone
Is such a stone,
As nothing but
Thy pow'r doth cut.
Wherefore each part
Of my hard heart
Meets in this frame,
To praise thy Name:
That if I chance to hold my peace,
These stones to praise thee may not cease.
O let thy blessed SACRIFICE be mine,
And sanctifie this ALTAR to be thine.