Monday, October 2, 2023

Robert Herrick*

Robert Herrick (1591―1674) is now considered one of the most important English poets of the 17th century, although this is a recent perspective. He was not well-known in his own lifetime, was almost forgotten in the 18th century, and has only risen in the esteem of scholars in the late 20th century. He produced just one extensive poetry collection: Hesperides: Or, The Works Both Humane & Divine (1648).

He was a member of the Sons of Ben, a group of poets and playwrights influenced by the writing of Ben Jonson; other poets associated with this group include, Richard Lovelace, Sir John Suckling, and Thomas Carew. Jonson and his followers regularly met in various London taverns.

Herrick took holy orders and was ordained into the Church of England in 1623, and in 1629 he became the vicar of Dean Prior in Devonshire.

His Wish to God

I would to God, that mine old age might have
Before my last, but here a living grave;
Some one poor almshouse, there to lie, or stir,
Ghost-like, as in my meaner sepulchre;
A little piggin, and a pipkin by,
To hold things fitting my necessity,
Which, rightly us'd, both in their time and place,
Might me excite to fore, and after, grace.
Thy cross, my Christ, fix'd 'fore mine eyes should be,
Not to adore that, but to worship Thee.
So here the remnant of my days I'd spend,
Reading Thy bible, and my book; so end.

*This is the third Kingdom Poets post about Robert Herrick: first post, second post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.