Most of the reviews that I share with you involve curriculum or other products for the giggly girls. While Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert is definitely a study that can involve the whole family or even high school students on their own, I have been using it for my own Bible study, reading, and devotional. Everyday Education, LLC has introduced me to a fantastic Christian poet that I didn’t even know existed. It has been lovely.
Working It Out is a poetry study written by Joseph Womack that focuses on the poetry of George Herbert. Herbert was a 17th century poet. He is a favorite poet of many well-known authors including C.S. Lewis. Coming from what was considered a distinguished family, being a scholar at Cambridge and a member of the English Parliament, and finally a priest in the Anglican Church, Herbert spent much time in poetry pondering and “working out” his salvation. He dealt with spiritual conflicts, many which waged in his own soul, according to his own writings. This is likely where Joseph Womack took the title of this poetry analysis course from.
The poetry of Herbert has been a very interesting read, though not easy in the least. I spent much time reading and rereading each poem before I even began to dig into the meanings and movement of thought within each one. Working It Out brings together many of Herbert’s poetry with the direction in analysis from Joseph Womack. Womack works through each of the poems in the same way.
- Big Picture
- Parts of the Picture
- Parts of the Picture Come Together
After the analysis of the poem, there are two more sections that are a bit more focused on the devotional aspect of the poetry.
- Reflection questions
- Scriptures for Further Reflection
In order to gain as much as possible from each poem, I worked through them as suggested, focusing carefully on the analysis provided by Womack. I would often find myself wandering back through the poem as I read the analysis and saying “Wow. That is wonderful.”
The Poem sections is just that – the poem. The Big Picture is a short overview of what the poem is about. The Parts of the Picture is a stanza-by-stanza breakdown of what the poem is discussing, including the literary elements, devices, and techniques used. This is also where the parts that I seem to be most confused about are discussed and defined. The Parts of the Picture Come Together takes the breakdown and puts it back together, producing a more meaningful understanding of the movement of thought through the poem.
Reflection Questions and Scriptures for Further Reflection often brought a very deep and meaningful conclusion to the poem for me. More than once, this is where I had that “a-ha” moment of understanding. More than once, I had to immediately stop and email someone because that poem coupled with those scriptures felt like just what God was wanting me or someone who was hurting to hear right then.
I have been working through approximately 2 poems per week, spending about 30 minutes per session on the poems. I say approximately 2 poems per week because some poems don’t require as much thought from me and others have required quite a bit more. If you work through this as a course and as suggested, there is plenty of material to cover a year’s worth of time. There are 51 poems in this book and it is suggested to work through one per week.
In the introduction, Janice Campbell (Everyday Education, LLC) gives a number of suggestions to make the study even more meaningful. I have taken these suggestions to heart and have definitely gotten more out of the poems that I have written out long-hand or read aloud.
Working It Out is available as either a printed book or in digital format as a PDF. It is over 200 pages and features 51 poems with analysis. You can find a sample of this poetry study at Everyday Education.
This has been a terrific blessing to me. And to Miss L. She may be 10 but she loves to read and write poetry. We have shared some of the poems in Working It Out and talked about their beauty and meaning. She did not delve into the analysis with me but more than once, she enjoyed reading some of the poetry and understood innately the beauty of Herbert’s words.
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Be sure to read additional reviews of Working It Out, as well as Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting and Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers from Everyday Education, by the Homeschool Review Crew.