The Victorians knew how to produce a book as a work of craftsmanship. I have three very different old editions of Herbert's poems. Here is one of them published in MDCCCLXV - that would be 1865.
To be honest, I now discipline myself not to buy others and it would take something very special to tempt me to buy yet another edition.
I mean, I have the Cambridge critical edition which is a simply fabulous production, replete with learning and edited by someone whoknows the poems both intimately and critically;
the Everyman hardcover which also has fine notes, an excellent introduction and is produced in a series renowned for quality paper, printing and binding;
Tobin's Penguin edition is now 20 years old but remains a good, handy reference.
Patrides' older Everyman paperback is still the one I carry around and the most annotated of the ones I own;
even the small Everman pocket edition is a lovely volume, and the one I use when I read Love (III) at Communion.
And then there are the three Victorian editions.
For years now Herbert has been for me both a research interest and a favourite source of spiritual and intellectual stimulus. I've plenty other poetry interests but for reasons not easily explained Herbert is the one I have pursued with most energy, and is certainly the poet on whom I've read the most scholarly literature - (and spent the most money)
Here's one of my favourite Herbert poems - as a study of the spiritual psychology of the preacher, and the pastoral theology of preaching it offers a quite different take from the homiletical plot, narrative theology, post-modern hermeneutics and contemporary expressions of informal and IT communication. Instead it honours humility, reverence, availability to the light that shines through the brittle crazie glass that is the preacher, a window of grace. The appeal is to the conscience, the heart, the will - yes, Herbert understood the transformative core of faithful, and faith-filled preaching.
LORD, how can man preach thy eternall word ?
He is a brittle crazie glasse :
Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford
This glorious and transcendent place,
To be a window, through thy grace.
But when thou dost anneal in glasse thy storie,
Making thy life to shine within
The holy Preachers, then the light and glorie
More rev'rend grows, and more doth win ;
Which else shows watrish, bleak, and thin.
Doctrine and life, colours and light, in one
When they combine and mingle, bring
A strong regard and aw : but speech alone
Doth vanish like a flaring thing,
And in the eare, not conscience ring.