1862 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Robert Herrick

Thomas Arnold, in A Manual of English Literature (1862; 1885) 286.



Robert Herrick, after being ejected by the Parliamentarians from his living in Devonshire, came up to London, and published his poems under the title of Hesperides, or Works both Human and Divine.

The poems of Herrick are classed by Mr. Hallam among the poetry of kisses; it would be more exact to say that they are the outcome of a lazy, amorous temperament, which cannot or will not put time to better use. He candidly tells us that

—he has seen, and still can prove,
The lazy man the most doth love.

While the Long Parliament was making war and framing treaties, Herrick could only talk of the Parliament of roses; red-handed battle was raging in every English county, but he can only bemoan "the death that is in Julia's eyes." Herrick's melody is not invariably perfect, yet there are not a few of his little poems — they are, all very diminutive — which either have a beautiful tripping movement, or excel in rhythmic evenness and sweetness. The divisions of the collection, after certain opening invocations to gods and goddesses, are — "Amatory Odes," "Anacreontic and Bacchanalian," and an "Epithalamium."