I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers, Of April, May, of June, and July flowers. I sing of May-poles, hock-carts, wassails, wakes, Of bridegrooms, brides, and of their bridal-cakes. I write of youth, of love, and have access By these to sing of cleanly wantonness. I sing of dews, of rains, and piece by piece Of balm, of oil, of spice, and ambergris. I sing of Time’s trans-shifting; and I write How roses first came red, and lilies white. I write of groves, of twilights, and I sing The court of Mab, and of the fairy king. I write of Hell; I sing (and ever shall) Of Heaven, and hope to have it after all.
Music, thou queen of heaven, care-charming spell, That strik’st a stillness into hell ; Thou that tam’st tigers, and fierce storms that rise, With thy soul-melting lullabies ; Fall down, down, down from those thy chiming spheres, To charm our souls, as thou enchant’st our ears.
Begin to charm, and, as thou strok’st mine ears With thy enchantment, melt me into tears. Then let thy active hand scud o’er thy lyre, And make my spirits frantic with the fire. That done, sink down into a silvery strain, And make me smooth as balm and oil again.
Ah music music Stiller of the troubled brow Tamer of the beast
Robert Herrick, (1591 -1674), English cleric and poet, the most original of the “sons of Ben [Jonson],” who revived the spirit of the ancient classic lyric.
He is best remembered for the line “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,” and is counted among the Cavalier poets.
Almost forgotten in the 18th century, and in the 19th century alternately applauded for his poetry’s lyricism and condemned for its “obscenities,”
Robert Herrick nowadays is recognized as one of the most accomplished nondramatic poets of his age. Long dismissed as merely a “minor poet” and, as a consequence, neglected or underestimated by scholars and critics
Herrick wrote elegies, satires, epigrams, love songs to imaginary mistresses, marriage songs, complimentary verse to friends and patrons, and celebrations of rustic and ecclesiastical festivals.
The appeal of Herrick’s poetry lies in its truth to human sentiments and its perfection of form and style.
Frequently light, worldly, and hedonistic and making few pretensions to intellectual profundity, it yet covers a wide range of subjects and emotions, ranging from lyrics inspired by rural life to wistful evocations of life and love’s evanescence and fleeting beauty.
Herrick’s lyrics are notable for their technical mastery and the interplay of thought, rhythm, and imagery that they display. As such, they are typical of the Cavalier poets, a group identifiable by its politics—loyal to Charles I during the English Civil Wars—and the distinct tone and style of its members’ verse.
As a poet, Herrick was steeped in the classical tradition; he was also influenced by English folklore and lyrics, by Italian madrigals, by the Bible and patristic literature, and by contemporary English writers, notably Jonson and Robert Burton.