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Robert Herrick

Robert Herrick

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Published by: lucy wang on Nov 19, 2009
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Robert Herrick (poet)
Robert Herrick 
(baptized 24 August 1591 – buried 15 October1674) was a 17thcentury Englishpoet.
Biography
Early life
Born inCheapside,London, he was theseventh child andfourth son of NicholasHerrick, a prosperousgoldsmith, who fell outof a window whenRobert was a year old(whether this wassuicide remainsunclear). The traditionthat Herrick receivedhis education atWestminster isgroundless. It is more likely that (like his uncle's children) heattended TheMerchant Taylors' School. In 1607 he becameapprenticed to his uncle, Sir William Herrick, who was a goldsmithand jeweller to the king. The apprenticeship ended after only sixyears when Herrick, at age twenty-two, matriculated atSt John'sCollege, Cambridge. He graduated in 1617.
 
Robert Herrick became amember of theSons of Ben, a group centered upon an admirationfor the works of Ben Jonson. Herrick took holy orders in 1623, andbecame vicar of Dean Prior in Devonshire, but lost his positionbecause of his Royalist bent.
Restoration and later life
When King Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, Herrickpetitioned for his own restoration to his living. Perhaps King Charlesfelt kindly towards this genial man, who had written versescelebrating the births of both Charles II and his brother James beforethe Civil War. Herrick became the vicar of Dean Prior again in thesummer of 1662 and lived there until his death in October 1674, atthe ripe age of 83. His date of death is not known, but he was buriedon 15 October. Herrick was a bachelor all his life, and many of thewomen he names in his poems are thought to be fictional.
 
Robert Herrick 
Robert Herrick, illustration based on
Hesperides
impression.
Born
baptised 24 August 1591Cheapside,London,England
Died
buried 15 October 1674 (aged 83)Dean Prior,Devon,England
 
Poetic style and stature
His reputation rests on
Hesperides
, and the much shorter
NobleNumbers
, spiritual works, published together in 1648. He is well-known for his style and, in his earlier works, frequent references tolovemaking and the female body. His later poetry was more of aspiritual and philosophical nature. Among his most famous shortpoetical sayings are the unique monometers, such as "Thus I / Passby / And die,/ As one / Unknown / And gone."Herrick sets out his subject-matter in the poem he printed at thebeginning of his collection,
The Argument of his Book 
. He dealt withEnglish country life and its seasons, village customs, complimentarypoems to various ladies and his friends, themes taken from classicalwritings and a solid bedrock of Christian faith, not intellectualizedbut underpinning the rest.Herrick never married, and none of his love-poems seem to connect directly with anyone beloved woman. He loved the richnessof sensuality and the variety of life, and thisis shown vividly in such poems as
Cherry-ripe
,
Delight in Disorder 
and
Upon Julia’sClothes
. The over-riding message of Herrick’s work isthat life is short, the world is beautiful, loveis splendid, and we must use the short timewe have to make the most of it. Thismessage can be seen clearly in
To the Virgins, to make much of Time
,
To Daffodils
,
To Blossoms
and
Corinna going a-Maying
, wherethe warmth and exuberance of what seems to have been a kindlyand jovial personality comes over strongly. The opening stanza in one of his more famous poems, " To theVirgins, to Make Much of Time", is as follows:Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,Old Time is still a-flying;And this same flower that smiles today, Tomorrow will be dying.(In Elizabethan slang, "dying" referred both to mortality and toorgasm.) This poem is an example of thecarpe diemgenre; thepopularity of Herrick's poems of this kind helped revive the genre.His poems were not widely popular at the time they were published.His works were rediscovered in the early nineteenth century, andhave been regularly printed ever since.

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