Robert Herrick (1591-1674), known as one of the ‘Cavalier poets’, was a Royalist who, following the English Civil War and the execution of King Charles I in 1649, penned this poem grieving for the loss of the king: ‘everything / Puts on the semblance here of sorrowing.’ For Herrick, the whole land seems to grieve for Charles and the loss to the kingdom that his death signifies.
The Bad Season Makes the Poet Sad
Dull to myself, and almost dead to these
My many fresh and fragrant mistresses;
Lost to all music now, since everything
Puts on the semblance here of sorrowing.
Sick is the land to th’ heart, and doth endure
More dangerous faintings by her desp’rate cure. Read the rest of this entry
Glow-worms, shooting stars, and elves: all can be found in ‘The Night Piece: To Julia’, a charming poem by the seventeenth-century poet Robert Herrick (and that’s just the first three lines). The last line invites a sexual reading, a sign of the thinly-veiled eroticism that pervades Herrick’s Julia poems. (Though here we might add foot-fetishism as well.)
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’-th’-Wisp mis-light thee,
Nor snake or slow-worm bite thee; Read the rest of this entry
The finest poems of the Cavalier poet
Algernon Charles Swinburne called Robert Herrick (1591-1674) the ‘greatest songwriter ever born of English race’. In this post, we’ve chosen ten of Robert Herrick’s best poems, most of which are beautifully short lyrics about a number of themes, from religion to love to untidy clothes. We hope you enjoy this pick of the finest Herrick poems.
‘To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time’. The poem’s message is straightforward: Herrick is addressing ‘the virgins’. This provides another clue as to what he is driving at. Herrick tells the young to enjoy themselves before their youth and beauty fade. And yet encouraging a load of young people who haven’t had sex yet has never been couched in such delightful verse as Herrick deploys here. This is one of the best ‘seize the day’ poems in English – and probably the most famous. Read the rest of this entry