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"Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage."
Suckling. Carew and Suckling were closely associated in life, and more continuously in the Court circle than the rest of the group. Though Suckling was far inferior to his friend in accomplishment, his genius shows, according to Edmund Gosse, in his great influence on succeeding seventeenth-century writers of love songs. Very few of his poems show the best of which he was capable - he reproved Carew for spending too much time in polishing. Constancy, from which a stanza has been quoted (page 91), and the facetious Why so pale and wan, fond lover? are fair representatives of Suckling's skill.
Carew's work is often marred by overemphasis of the sensual, which it should be remembered, however, was no offence in the eyes of his contemporaries. It is said on a fair basis of probability that in his last years Carew reformed, and sincerely repented the wildness of his life and early verse. Disregarding those he condemned we find many poems of Carew that are delightful reading, such as Disdain Returned, beginning:
"He that loves a rosy cheek,"
"Would you know what's sort?"
and In Praise of his Mistress, which might almost be set up as a model of what a love-tribute in verse should be.
ROBERT HERRICK, 1591-1674
Robert Herrick was so greatly the superior of his fellows that no apology is needed for giving him fuller treatment. In our introductory paragraph we noted that he was dif
ferent from them in the circumstance of birth, and in his relation to the life of the Court circle. He was also the only one of the group to complete his university course; and his life-work, the ministry, was far removed from theirs of soldier, courtier, diplomat, "fine gentleman."
Herrick was the son of a London goldsmith, and was born in London in 1591. Upon the death of his father
Attended by Herrick, also by Wyatt, Ascham, Jonson, and Wordsworth.
in the following year, his mother removed to the village of Hampton, about twelve miles away, where she and her son remained until his sixteenth year. Apprenticed then to his uncle, he spent six years at the goldsmith's trade in the City, during which time he met Ben Jonson and wrote some poems. In 1613, at the very late age (for those days-compare Bacon, page 57) of twenty-two, Herrick entered the university at Cambridge, from which he received the Master's degree four years later. Of his life for the succeeding ten years little is known; but in 1627 he entered the minis
try, and in 1629 was made by Charles I rector of the church at Dean Prior, a village in Devonshire. It was an easy, comfortable position for a man of letters; and for eighteen years (ie., until removed by Cromwell's government), in addition to performing satisfactorily his clerical duties, he gave much time to "wooing the muse." When turned out of his pulpit, he had composed over 1200 poems, which
were published shortly after in London with the title Hesperides. No important incident of his subsequent life is recorded. Soon after the Restoration he was reappointed to his position at Dean Prior, and lived there till 1674.
Range of His Poetry. One respect in which Herrick's work surpasses that of the other Cavaliers is range of subjects, a range claimed by the author in the opening poem of the Hesperides:
“I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds and bowers;
I sing of May-poles, hock-carts,1 wassails, wakes;
I sing of dews, of rains,
I write of groves, of twilights, and I sing
Of heaven, and hope to have it after all."
This poem suggests that he drew on every portion of his experience for subjects: and it is clear that his experience was far broader than that of his companions in "society verse." His long residence in Devonshire is responsible for his verses dealing with the various aspects of nature, and his vocation naturally led to meditation on the future life.
That he aimed as did hardly another (unless Carew) at perfection of technique and finish" is shown by His Request to Julia:
"Julia, if I chance to die
Better 'twere my book were dead,
Than to live not perfected."
Pastoral Poems. - Judged by an absolute standard, if such a thing be possible, — Herrick is probably more the artist in his poems to Julia, Silvia, Sapho, in How Roses Came Red, To the Virgins to Make Much of Time, and other
1 The hock-cart (for “hockey-cart") was the last cart loaded at harvest.
little masterpieces in the field of society verse." most competent critics agree, however, that his country poems, his "English pastorals," are altogether admirable. Corinna's Going a-Maying is a charming picture of one phase of life in a Devonshire village, idealized, it is true, but none the less charming for that reason. The song, To Phillis, beginning
"Live, live with me, and thou shalt see
The pleasures I'll prepare for thee,"
does not suffer by comparison with Marlowe's
"Come, live with me, and be my love,"
and is not without merit when set over against L'Allegro.
not be called a poet of the first rank.
With all his merits Herrick can
great poets something
more than good taste, elegance, ease, finish: we demand something vital in the content of their work, something that touches deep chords in human experience, something that points the way to better things. This no one will find in Herrick.
HUMANE & DIVINE
ROBERT HERRICK Efq."
Effugient avides Carmina noftra Rogos.
FACSIMILE TITLE-PAGE OF Hesperides.
Not only are his poems of the earth earthy: they are of the earth of Charles the First's England, an unusually earthy time. He was in entire harmony with his surroundings, and these neither gave rise to nor desired