Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Poem A Day #12


These fresh beauties (we can prove)
Once were virgins sick of love,
Turn'd to flowers. Still in some
Colours go and colours come.

- Robert Herrick

Robert Herrick, noted Royalist and vicar of Dean Prior in Devonshire, was the earthiest and easily the most accessible of Ben Jonson's many 17th century followers.  His lines have been a staple of the wooing repertory for nearly 400 years, and his poems, though laden with the allusions and archetypal figurations expected of poets of the time, are still vibrant in their language and directly communicative to the modern reader.  Any collection of Herrick's work is sure to be boldly romantic, possibly lusty, and probably quite funny.

Here's one of his best and most well-known (and most anthologized) works.


A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness :
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction :
An erring lace which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher :
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbons to flow confusedly :
A winning wave (deserving note)
In the tempestuous petticoat :
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility :
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.

- Robert Herrick

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