Hesperides (poetry collection)

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Hesperides (complete title, Hesperides; or the Works both Human and Divine of Robert Herrick Esq.) is a book of poetry published in 1648 by English Cavalier poet Robert Herrick. This collection of 1200 lyrical poems, his magnum opus, was published under his direction, and established his reputation. It is replete with carpe diem sentiments. The title refers to the Hesperides, nymphs of the evening in Greek mythology.


Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
  • I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers:
    Of April, May, of June, and July flowers.
    I sing of Maypoles, Hock-carts, wassails, wakes,
    Of bridegrooms, brides, and of their bridal cakes.
    I write of youth, of love, and have access
    By these to sing of cleanly wantonness;
    I sing of dews, of rains, and piece by piece
    Of balm, of oil, of spice and ambergris;
    I sing of times trans-shifting, and I write
    How roses first came red and lilies white;
    I write of groves, of twilights, and I sing
    The Court of Mab, and of the Fairy King;
    I write of hell; I sing (and ever shall)
    Of heaven, and hope to have it after all.
    • 1. "The Argument of His Book"
  • To read my booke the Virgin Shie
    May blush, (while Brutus standeth by:)
    But when He’s gone, read through what’s writ,
    And never staine a cheeke for it.
    • 4. "Another [to his Booke]"
  • Droop, droop no more, or hang the head,
    Ye roses almost witherèd;
    Now strength and newer purple get,
    Each here declining violet;
    O primroses! let this day be
    A resurrection unto ye,
    And to all flowers allied in blood,
    Or sworn to that sweet sisterhood:
    For health on Julia’s cheek hath shed
    Claret and cream comminglèd;
    And those her lips do now appear
    As beams of coral, but more clear.
    • 7. "Upon Julia’s Recovery"
  • I dreamt the roses one time went
    To meet and sit in parliament;
    The place for these, and for the rest
    Of flowers, was thy spotless breast,
    Over the which a state was drawn
    Of tiffanie or cobweb lawn.
    Then in that parly all those powers
    Voted the rose the queen of flowers;
    But so as that herself should be
    The maid of honour unto thee.
    • 11. "The Parliament of Roses to Julia"
  • Cherry-ripe, ripe, ripe, I cry,
    Full and fair ones; come and buy.
    If so be you ask me where
    They do grow, I answer: There
    Where my Julia’s lips do smile;
    There’s the land, or cherry-isle,
    Whose plantations fully show
    All the year where cherries grow.
    • 53. "Cherry-Ripe"
  • A sweet disorder in the dresse
    Kindles in cloathes a wantonnesse:
    A Lawne about the shoulders thrown
    Into a fine distraction:
    An erring Lace, which here and there
    Enthralls the Crimson Stomacher:
    A Cuffe neglectfull, and thereby
    Ribbands to flow confusedly:
    A winning wave (deserving Note)
    In the tempestuous petticote:
    A careless shooe-string, in whose tye
    I see a wild civility:
    Doe more bewitch me, than when Art
    Is too precise in every part.
    • 83. "Delight in Disorder"
  • Get up, get up for shame! The blooming morn
      Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
      See how Aurora throws her fair
      Fresh-quilted colours through the air:
      Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
      The dew bespangling herb and tree!

    Each flower has wept and bow’d toward the east
    Above an hour since, yet you not drest;
      Nay! not so much as out of bed?
      When all the birds have matins said
      And sung their thankful hymns, ’tis sin,
      Nay, profanation, to keep in,

    Whereas a thousand virgins on this day
    Spring sooner than the lark, to fetch in May.
    • 178. "Corinna's Going A-Maying", st. 1
  • Rise and put on your foliage, and be seen
    To come forth, like the spring-time, fresh and green,
      And sweet as Flora. Take no care
      For jewels for your gown or hair:
      Fear not; the leaves will strew
      Gems in abundance upon you:
    Besides, the childhood of the day has kept,
    Against you come, some orient pearls unwept.
      Come, and receive them while the light
      Hangs on the dew-locks of the night:
      And Titan on the eastern hill
      Retires himself, or else stands still
    Till you come forth! Wash, dress, be brief in praying:
    Few beads are best when once we go a-Maying.
    • 178. "Corinna's Going A-Maying", st. 2
  • Come, my Corinna, come; and coming, mark
    How each field turns a street, each street a park,
      Made green and trimm’d with trees! see how
      Devotion gives each house a bough
      Or branch! each porch, each door, ere this,
      An ark, a tabernacle is,
    Made up of white-thorn neatly interwove,
    As if here were those cooler shades of love.
      Can such delights be in the street
      And open fields, and we not see’t?
      Come, we’ll abroad: and let’s obey
      The proclamation made for May,
    And sin no more, as we have done, by staying;
    But, my Corinna, come, let’s go a-Maying.
    • 178. "Corinna's Going A-Maying", st. 3
  • There’s not a budding boy or girl this day
    But is got up and gone to bring in May.
      A deal of youth ere this is come
      Back, and with white-thorn laden home.
      Some have despatch’d their cakes and cream,
      Before that we have left to dream:
    And some have wept and woo’d, and plighted troth,
    And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth:
      Many a green-gown has been given,
      Many a kiss, both odd and even:
      Many a glance, too, has been sent
      From out the eye, love’s firmament:
    Many a jest told of the keys betraying
    This night, and locks pick’d: yet we’re not a-Maying!
    • 178. "Corinna's Going A-Maying", st. 4
  • Come, let us go, while we are in our prime,
    And take the harmless folly of the time!
      We shall grow old apace, and die
      Before we know our liberty.
      Our life is short, and our days run
      As fast away as does the sun.
    And, as a vapour or a drop of rain,
    Once lost, can ne’er be found again,
      So when or you or I are made
      A fable, song, or fleeting shade,
      All love, all liking, all delight
      Lies drown’d with us in endless night.
    Then, while time serves, and we are but decaying,
    Come, my Corinna, come, let’s go a-Maying.
    • 178. "Corinna's Going A-Maying", st. 5
  • 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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
  • Ask me why I send you here
    This sweet Infanta of the year?
    Ask me why I send to you
    This primrose, thus bepearl’d with dew?
    I will whisper to your ears:—
    The sweets of love are mix’d with tears.
    Ask me why this flower does show
    So yellow-green, and sickly too?
    Ask me why the stalk is weak
    And bending (yet it doth not break)?
    I will answer:—These discover
    What fainting hopes are in a lover.
    • 580. "The Primrose"
      • Cp. Thomas Carew, Poems (1640):
        Aske me why I send you here,
        This firstling of the infant yeare:
        Aske me why I send to you,
        This Primrose, all bepearl’d with dew.
        I strait will whisper in your eares,
        The sweets of love are wash’t with teares.
        Ask me why this flower doth shew,
        So yellow greene and sickly too:
        Aske me why the stalke is weake,
        And bending yet it doth not breake;
        I must tell you these discover,
        What doubts and feares are in a lover.