This essay dwells on George Herbert’s “The Flower” and on how its speaker can love and praise God. Writing of praise and doubt, Stanley Cavell remarks that the problem of skepticism is partly a problem of finding an object that one can praise, a search that certainly occurs in “The Flower.” While Herbert’s speaker seeks God as that object, his own memory impedes him, making him question God’s goodness and forcing him not only to abandon forms of remembering that Herbert’s sources—from psalmists to theologians—employ so as to rise to praise, but also to use form in order to forget. The essay’s conclusion compares Herbert’s poem with another strange praise poem, Paul Celan’s “Psalm.” The essay claims that if Cavell sees praise as signaling a triumph over doubt, “The Flower” shows, as only verse can, how praise and doubt accompany each other, using doubt to keep praise at a distance from both psalmic theology and skeptical philosophy.

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