Friday, May 04, 2007

Two from Robert Herrick -- a Poetry Friday post

Late in the day, but just on time for the season, here are two poems by Robert Herrick, a 17th-century English poet (not to be confused with the American novelist Robert Herrick, who lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries).


First, one written in iambic pentameter using rhymed couplets from Hesperides, a work dedicated to Charles, Prince of Wales (later King Charles II).

The Argument of his Book.

I sing of Brooks, of Blossomes, Birds, and Bowers:
Of April, May, of June, and July-Flowers.
I sing of May-poles, Hock-carts, Wassails, Wakes,
Of Bride-grooms, Brides, and of their Bridall-cakes.
I write of Youth, of Love, and have Accesse
By these, to sing of cleanly-Wantonnesse.
I sing of Dewes, of Raines, and piece by piece
Of Balme, of Oyle, of Spice, and *Amber-Greece.
I sing of Times trans-shifting; and I write
How Roses first came Red, and Lillies White.
I write of Groves, of Twilights, and I sing
The Court of Mab, and of the Fairie-King.
I write of Hell; I sing (and ever shall)
Of Heaven, and hope to have it after all.


*ambergris

The next poem is one often quoted in favor of seizing the day, and is formally considered a carpe diem poem. It's likely you've heard the first line, even if you've never seen the whole poem. It is also from Hesperides.

To the Virgins, to make much of Time.

1. Gather ye Rose-buds while ye may,
Old Time is still a flying:
And this same flower that smiles to day,
To morrow will be dying.

2. The glorious Lamp of Heaven, the Sun,
The higher he's a getting;
The sooner will his Race be run,
And neerer he's to Setting.

3. 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.

4. Then be not coy, but use your time;
And while ye may, goe marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.


On a beautiful May afternoon, I believe I'll sing of blossoms and birds and otherwise seize the (remains of) the day.

1 comment:

Michele said...

I'm very much interested in seizing the day. Someone said to me today that they didn't know how I found time to work, along with all the reading and writing that I do. My jesting answer was that I have access to the TARDIS, but the serious answer is that I'm very motivated, very organised and don't sleep much - a good combination for seizing the day and making the best/most of it, I feel !

Lovely poetry choices Kelly - thanks...