George Herbert is one of the great 17th century poet-priests. His poems embrace every shade of the spiritual life, from love and closeness, to anger and despair, to reconciliation and hope. And his work is always rich with audacious playfulness: he seems to take God on, knowing God will win, as if he's having an argument with a faithful friend he knows is not going to leave. In much of theology and spirituality, God is a critical spectator to human lives, but for Herbert, his sense of relationship with God is primarily of a friendship that can never be broken. These are some of the themes Mark Oakley explores in this outstanding book. He offers a poem for every day in Lent, with a 2-page commentary on each of the 40 included.
It's extremely unusual to meet anyone who isn't a specialist who has such a subtle feeling for language as he does.', Sir Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate;The Splash of Words: Believing in poetry (Canterbury Press, 2016): This beautiful and wise meditation centred around Mark Oakley's anthology of the `soul language' of poetry opens new windows in the shared house of both poetry and belief.', Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate;'A wonderful exposition of the relationship between faith, poetry and struggle.', Shami Chakrabarti, The Guardian;'A very moving book, opening all kinds of doors into a more compassionate, more truthful understanding.', Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalen College, Cambridge;Readings for Funerals (SPCK, 2015): This book will be a great help and a real comfort to anyone going through a difficult time in their life - something that happens to us all sooner or later.', Dame Judi Dench;'I have tested Mark Oakley's Readings for Weddings (SPCK 2003, 2014) with a number of couples I have been preparing for marriage over the last few years. They have been universally grateful for such a rich and varied quarry from which they have been able, in every case, to extract something that was highly appropriate but that would otherwise never have been discovered.', Richard Chartres, Former Bishop of London;A Good Year (SPCK, 2016): A good read.', Anvil