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ROBERT HERRICK

1591-1674

255                                  Corinna’s going a-Maying

      GET up, get up for shame! The blooming morn
      Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
      See how Aurora throws her fair
      Fresh-quilted colours through the air:
      Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
      The dew bespangling herb and tree!
Each flower has wept and bow’d toward the east
Above an hour since, yet you not drest;
      Nay! not so much as out of bed?
      When all the birds have matins said
      And sung their thankful hymns, ’tis sin,
      Nay, profanation, to keep in,
Whereas a thousand virgins on this day
Spring sooner than the lark, to fetch in May.
Rise and put on your foliage, and be seen
To come forth, like the spring-time, fresh and green,
     And sweet as Flora. Take no care
     For jewels for your gown or hair:
     Fear not; the leaves will strew
     Gems in abundance upon you:
Besides, the childhood of the day has kept,
Against you come, some orient pearls unwept.
     Come, and receive them while the light
     Hangs on the dew-locks of the night:
     And Titan on the eastern hill
     Retires himself, or else stands still
Till you come forth! Wash, dress, be brief in praying:
Few beads1 are best when once we go a-Maying.
Come, my Corinna, come; and coming, mark
How each field turns a street, each street a park,
     Made green and trimm’d with trees! see how
     Devotion gives each house a bough
     Or branch! each porch, each door, ere this,
     An ark, a tabernacle is,
Made up of white-thorn neatly interwove,
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
     Can such delights be in the street
     And open fields, and we not see’t?
     Come, we’ll abroad: and let’s obey
     The proclamation made for May,
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying;
But, my Corinna, come, let’s go a-Maying.
There’s not a budding boy or girl this day
But is got up and gone to bring in May.
      A deal of youth ere this is come
      Back, and with white-thorn laden home.
      Some have dispatch’d their cakes and cream,
      Before that we have left to dream:
And some have wept and woo’d, and plighted troth,
And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth:
      Many a green-gown2 has been given,
      Many a kiss, both odd and even:
      Many a glance, too, has been sent
      From out the eye, love’s firmament:
Many a jest told of the keys betraying
This night, and locks pick’d: yet we’re not a-Maying!
Come, let us go, while we are in our prime,
And take the harmless folly of the time!
     We shall grow old apace, and die
     Before we know our liberty.
     Our life is short, and our days run
     As fast away as does the sun.
And, as a vapour or a drop of rain,
Once lost, can ne’er be found again,
     So when or you or I are made
     A fable, song, or fleeting shade,
     All love, all liking, all delight
     Lies drown’d with us in endless night.
Then, while time serves, and we are but decaying,
Come, my Corinna, come, let’s go a-Maying.

1 beads: prayers.

2 green-gown: tumble on the grass.

256                                 To the Virgins, to make much of Time

GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
   Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
   To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
   The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
   And nearer he’s to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
   When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
   Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
   And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
   You may for ever tarry.

257                                        To the Western Wind

SWEET western wind, whose luck it is,
   Made rival with the air,
To give Perenna’s lip a kiss,
   And fan her wanton hair:
Bring me but one, I’ll promise thee,
   Instead of common showers,
Thy wings shall be embalm’d by me,
   And all beset with flowers.

258                                               To Electra

I DARE not ask a kiss,
   I dare not beg a smile,
Lest having that, or this,
   I might grow proud the while.
No, no, the utmost share
   Of my desire shall be
Only to kiss that air
   That lately kissàd thee.

259                                                To Violets

WELCOME, maids of honour!
     You do bring
    In the spring,
     And wait upon her.
She has virgins many,
     Fresh and fair;
     Yet you are
More sweet than any.
You’re the maiden posies,
     And so graced
     To be placed
’Fore damask roses.
Yet, though thus respected,
      By-and-by
      Ye do lie,
Poor girls, neglected.

260                                           To Daffodils

FAIR daffodils, we weep to see
   You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun
   Has not attain’d his noon.
          Stay, stay
      Until the hasting day
          Has run
      But to the evensong;
And, having pray’d together, we
     Will go with you along.
We have short time to stay, as you,
   We have as short a spring;
As quick a growth to meet decay,
   As you, or anything.
      We die
    As your hours do, and dry
      Away
    Like to the summer’s rain;
Or as the pearls of morning’s dew,
    Ne’er to be found again.

261                                               To Blossoms

FAIR pledges of a fruitful tree,
   Why do ye fall so fast?
   Your date is not so past
But you may stay yet here awhile
   To blush and gently smile,
      And go at last.
What! were ye born to be
   An hour or half’s delight,
   And so to bid good night?
’Twas pity Nature brought you forth
   Merely to show your worth
      And lose you quite.
But you are lovely leaves, where we
   May read how soon things have
   Their end, though ne’er so brave:
And after they have shown their pride
   Like you awhile, they glide
      Into the grave.

262                                             The Primrose

ASK me why I send you here
This sweet Infanta of the year?
Ask me why I send to you
This primrose, thus bepearl’d with dew?
I will whisper to your ears:—
The sweets of love are mix’d with tears.
Ask me why this flower does show
So yellow-green, and sickly too?
Ask me why the stalk is weak
And bending (yet it doth not break)?
I will answer:— These discover
What fainting hopes are in a lover.

263                                 The Funeral Rites of the Rose

THE Rose was sick and smiling died;
And, being to be sanctified,
About the bed there sighing stood
The sweet and flowery sisterhood:
Some hung the head, while some did bring,
To wash her, water from the spring;
Some laid her forth, while others wept,
But all a solemn fast there kept:
The holy sisters, some among,
The sacred dirge and trental1 sung.
But ah! what sweets smelt everywhere,
As Heaven had spent all perfumes there.
At last, when prayers for the dead
And rites were all accomplishàd,
They, weeping, spread a lawny loom,
And closed her up as in a tomb.

264                                           Cherry-Ripe

CHERRY-RIPE, ripe, ripe, I cry,
Full and fair ones; come and buy.
If so be you ask me where
They do grow, I answer: There
Where my Julia’s lips do smile;
There’s the land, or cherry-isle,
Whose plantations fully show
All the year where cherries grow.

1 trental: services for the dead, of thirty masses.

265                                    A Meditation for his Mistress

YOU are a tulip seen to-day,
But, dearest, of so short a stay
That where you grew scarce man can say.
You are a lovely July-flower,
Yet one rude wind or ruffling shower
Will force you hence, and in an hour.
You are a sparkling rose i’ th’ bud,
Yet lost ere that chaste flesh and blood
Can show where you or grew or stood.
You are a full-spread, fair-set vine,
And can with tendrils love entwine,
Yet dried ere you distil your wine.
You are like balm enclosàd well
In amber or some crystal shell,
Yet lost ere you transfuse your smell.
You are a dainty violet,
Yet wither’d ere you can be set
Within the virgin’s coronet.
You are the queen all flowers among;
But die you must, fair maid, ere long,
As he, the maker of this song.

266                                           Delight in Disorder

A SWEET disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness:
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction:
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher:
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbands to flow confusedly:
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat:
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility:
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.

267                                           Upon Julia’s Clothes

WHENAS in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
The liquefaction of her clothes!
Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free,
—O how that glittering taketh me!

268                                           The Bracelet: To Julia

WHY I tie about thy wrist,
Julia, this silken twist;
For what other reason is’t
But to show thee how, in part,
Thou my pretty captive art?
But thy bond-slave is my heart:
’Tis but silk that bindeth thee,
Knap the thread and thou art free;
But ’tis otherwise with me:
—I am bound and fast bound, so
That from thee I cannot go;
If I could, I would not so.

269                              To Daisies, not to shut so soon

SHUT not so soon; the dull-eyed night
   ;Has not as yet begun
To make a seizure on the light,
   Or to seal up the sun.
No marigolds yet closàd are,
   No shadows great appear;
Nor doth the early shepherd’s star
   Shine like a spangle here.
Stay but till my Julia close
   Her life-begetting eye,
And let the whole world then dispose
   Itself to live or die.

270                                       The Night-piece: To Julia

HER eyes the glow-worm lend thee,
      The shooting stars attend thee;
      And the elves also,
      Whose little eyes glow
Like the sparks of fire, befriend thee.
No Will-o’-the-wisp mislight thee,
Nor snake or slow-worm bite thee;
     But on, on thy way
     Not making a stay,
Since ghost there’s none to affright thee.
Let not the dark thee cumber:
What though the moon does slumber?
     The stars of the night
     Will lend thee their light
Like tapers clear without number.
Then, Julia, let me woo thee,
Thus, thus to come unto me;
     And when I shall meet
     Thy silv’ry feet,
My soul I’ll pour into thee.

271                                 To Music, to becalm his Fever

CHARM me asleep, and melt me so
       With thy delicious numbers,
That, being ravish’d, hence I go
   Away in easy slumbers.
        Ease my sick head,
        And make my bed,
   Thou power that canst sever
        From me this ill,
        And quickly still,
        Though thou not kill
          My fever.
Thou sweetly canst convert the same
   From a consuming fire
Into a gentle licking flame,
   And make it thus expire.
       Then make me weep
       My pains asleep;
   And give me such reposes
       That I, poor I,
       May think thereby
       I live and die
           ’Mongst roses.
Fall on me like the silent dew,
   Or like those maiden showers
Which, by the peep of day, do strew
   A baptim o’er the flowers.
       Melt, melt my pains
       With thy soft strains;
   That, having ease me given,
       With full delight
       I leave this light,
       And take my flight
         For Heaven.

272                                              To Dianeme

SWEET, be not proud of those two eyes
Which starlike sparkle in their skies;
Nor be you proud that you can see
All hearts your captives, yours yet free;
Be you not proud of that rich hair
Which wantons with the love-sick air;
Whenas that ruby which you wear,
Sunk from the tip of your soft ear,
Will last to be a precious stone
When all your world of beauty’s gone.

273                                        To none

WHAT conscience, say, is it in thee,
   When I a heart had one,
To take away that heart from me,
   And to retain thy own?
For shame or pity now incline
   To play a loving part;
Either to send me kindly thine,
   Or give me back my heart.
Covet not both; but if thou dost
   Resolve to part with neither,
Why, yet to show that thou art just,
   Take me and mine together!

274                         To Anthea, who may command him Anything

BID me to live, and I will live
   Thy Protestant to be;
Or bid me love, and I will give
   A loving heart to thee.
A heart as soft, a heart as kind,
   A heart as sound and free
As in the whole world thou canst find,
   That heart I’ll give to thee.
Bid that heart stay, and it will stay
   To honour thy decree:
Or bid it languish quite away,
   And’t shall do so for thee.
Bid me to weep, and I will weep
   While I have eyes to see:
And, having none, yet will I keep
   A heart to weep for thee.
Bid me despair, and I’ll despair
   Under that cypress-tree:
Or bid me die, and I will dare
   E’en death to die for thee.
Thou art my life, my love, my heart,
   The very eyes of me:
And hast command of every part
   To live and die for thee.

275                                        To the Willow-tree

THOU art to all lost love the best,
   The only true plant found,
Wherewith young men and maids distrest,
   And left of love, are crown’d.
When once the lover’s rose is dead,
   Or laid aside forlorn:
Then willow-garlands ’bout the head
   Bedew’d with tears are worn.
When with neglect, the lovers’ bane,
   Poor maids rewarded be
For their love lost, their only gain
   Is but a wreath from thee.
And underneath thy cooling shade,
   When weary of the light,
The love-spent youth and love-sick maid
   Come to weep out the night.

276                                         The Mad Maid’s Song

GOOD-MORROW to the day so fair,
   Good-morning, sir, to you;
Good-morrow to mine own torn hair
   Bedabbled with the dew.
Good-morning to this primrose too,
   Good-morrow to each maid
That will with flowers the tomb bestrew
   Wherein my love is laid.
Ah! woe is me, woe, woe is me!
   Alack and well-a-day!
For pity, sir, find out that bee
   Which bore my love away.
I’ll seek him in your bonnet brave,
   I’ll seek him in your eyes;
Nay, now I think they’ve made his grave
   I’ th’ bed of strawberries.
I’ll seek him there; I know ere this
   The cold, cold earth doth shake him;
But I will go, or send a kiss
   By you, sir, to awake him.
Pray hurt him not; though he be dead,
   He knows well who do love him,
And who with green turfs rear his head,
   And who do rudely move him.
He’s soft and tender (pray take heed);
   With bands of cowslips bind him,
And bring him home—but ’tis decreed
   That I shall never find him!

277                              Comfort to a Youth that had lost his Love

WHAT needs complaints,
   When she a place
Has with the race
   Of saints?
In endless mirth
She thinks not on
What’s said or done
   In Earth.
She sees no tears,
Or any tone
Of thy deep groan
   She hears:
Nor does she mind
Or think on’t now
That ever thou
   Wast kind;
But changed above,
She likes not there,
As she did here,
   Thy love.
Forbear therefore,
And lull asleep
Thy woes, and weep
   No more.

278                                            To Meadows

YE have been fresh and green,
   Ye have been fill’d with flowers,
And ye the walks have been
   Where maids have spent their hours.
You have beheld how they
   With wicker arks did come
To kiss and bear away
   The richer cowslips home.
You’ve heard them sweetly sing,
   And seen them in a round:
Each virgin like a spring,
   With honeysuckles crown’d.
But now we see none here
   Whose silv’ry feet did tread
And with dishevell’d hair
   Adorn’d this smoother mead.
Like unthrifts, having spent
   Your stock and needy grown,
You’re left here to lament
   Your poor estates, alone.

279                                             A Child’s Grace

HERE a little child I stand
Heaving up my either hand;
Cold as paddocks1 though they be,
Here I lift them up to Thee,
For a benison to fall
On our meat and on us all. Amen.

1 paddocks: frogs.

280                                                  Epitaph

upon a Child that died

HERE she lies, a pretty bud,
Lately made of flesh and blood:
Who as soon fell fast asleep
As her little eyes did peep.
Give her strewings, but not stir
The earth that lightly covers her.

281                                                  Another

HERE a pretty baby lies
Sung asleep with lullabies:
Pray be silent and not stir
Th’ easy earth that covers her.

282                                         His Winding-sheet

COME thou, who art the wine and wit
       Of all I’ve writ:
The grace, the glory, and the best
       Piece of the rest.
Thou art of what I did intend
       The all and end;
And what was made, was made to meet
       Thee, thee, my sheet.
Come then and be to my chaste side
       Both bed and bride:
We two, as reliques left, will have
       One rest, one grave:
And hugging close, we will not fear
       Lust entering here:
Where all desires are dead and cold
       As is the mould;
And all affections are forgot,
       Or trouble not.
Here, here, the slaves and prisoners be
       From shackles free:
And weeping widows long oppress’d
       Do here find rest.
The wrongàd client ends his laws
       Here, and his cause.
Here those long suits of Chancery lie
       Quiet, or die:
And all Star-Chamber bills do cease
       Or hold their peace.
Here needs no Court for our Request
       Where all are best,
All wise, all equal, and all just
       Alike i’ th’ dust.
Nor need we here to fear the frown
       Of Court or Crown:
Where fortune bears no sway o’er things,
       There all are Kings.
In this securer place we’ll keep
       As lull’d asleep;
Or for a little time we’ll lie
       As robes laid by;
To be another day re-worn,
       Turn’d, but not torn:
Or like old testaments engross’d,
       Lock’d up, not lost.
And for a while lie here conceal’d,
       To be reveal’d
Next at the great Platonick year,1
       And then meet here.

1 Platonick year: the perfect or cyclic year, when the sun, moon, and five planets end their revolutions together and start anew. See Timaeus, 39.

283                                          Litany to the Holy Spirit

IN the hour of my distress,
    When temptations me oppress,
And when I my sins confess,
       Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When I lie within my bed,
Sick in heart and sick in head,
And with doubts discomforted,
       Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When the house doth sigh and weep,
And the world is drown’d in sleep,
Yet mine eyes the watch do keep,
       Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When the passing bell doth toll,
And the Furies in a shoal
Come to fright a parting soul,
       Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When the tapers now burn blue,
And the comforters are few,
And that number more than true,
       Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When the priest his last hath pray’d,
And I nod to what is said,
’Cause my speech is now decay’d,
       Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When, God knows, I’m toss’d about
Either with despair or doubt;
Yet before the glass be out,
       Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When the tempter me pursu’th
With the sins of all my youth,
And half damns me with untruth,
       Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When the flames and hellish cries
Fright mine ears and fright mine eyes,
And all terrors me surprise,
       Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When the Judgment is reveal’d,
And that open’d which was seal’d,
When to Thee I have appeal’d,
       Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

 

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