1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Robert Herrick

Epes Sargent, in Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 54.



Herrick (1591-1674) was the son of a goldsmith of London. He was educated for the Church, and obtained from Charles I. the living of Dean Prior, in Devonshire. From this he was ejected during the civil wars. His works consist chiefly of religious and Anacreontic oems in strange association; and his rank among the lyric writers of his day is with the highest. He seems to have repented of the impure character of some of his verse, for he writes:

For those my unbaptized rhymes,
Write in my wild unhallowed times—
For every sentence, clause, and word
Forgive me, God, and blot each line
Out of my book that is not thine.

Herrick's vein of poetry is of a high quality when he is at his best; but sometimes he sinks to mere doggerel. His verses to flowers, for which he seems to have had a genuine love, are masterpieces of tenderness and grace.