Robert Herrick (1591-1674): Poems

original site: from Western Virginia University

Upon Julia's Clothes

Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes!

Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free,
Oh how that glittering taketh me!

Upon a Child

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

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.

The first one is very sensual, no? I'd like to hear some comment on the specific words and images. The image (i.e., the metaphor) in the last three lines especially is an interestingly elusive one. Can you make it out? (I remember as a graduate student being in a class that was posed that question -- and I remember failing to see what the instructor was getting at!)

Which of the two latter poems do you think is stronger?

                               by Robert Herrick

                     Have ye beheld (with much delight)
                     A red rose peeping through a white?
                     Or else a cherry (double graced)
                     Within a lily? Centre placed?
                     Or ever marked the pretty beam
                     A strawberry shows half drowned in cream?
                     Or seen rich rubies blushing through
                     A pure smooth pearl, and orient too?
                     So like to this, nay all the rest,
                     Is each neat niplet of her breast.

Gather ye rosebuds as ye may,
Old time is still a flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow 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.

The age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse and worst
Time 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 forever tarry.

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