Robert Herrick (Cavalier Poet)

Herrick, Robert (English poet)

Robert Herrick, 1591–1674, English poet, generally considered the greatest of the Cavalier poets. Although he was born in London, he spent most of his childhood in Hampton. In 1607 he became apprenticed to his uncle, jeweler to the king, and remained in London until 1613. He was graduated from Cambridge, and sometime before 1627 he took orders. In 1627 he was chaplain in the duke of Buckingham's disastrous expedition to the Isle of Ré. Two years later Herrick was given the country living of Dean Prior in Devonshire, remaining there until 1647, when he was ejected because of royalist sympathies. He was restored to his living in 1662 and remained there until his death. Herrick never married, and the many women mentioned in his poems are probably imaginary. The bulk of his work is contained in the Hesperides (1648), which when it first appeared included his sacred songs called Noble Numbers. He was a disciple of Ben Jonson and his lyrics show considerable classical influence, but his greatness rests on his simplicity, his sensuousness, his care for design and detail, and his management of words and rhythms. Among the best known of his lyrics are "The Night Piece, to Julia" ; the song commencing "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" ; "Corinna's Going a-Maying" ; "To Anthea" ; "Cherry-ripe" ; and "Upon Julia's Clothes." Among his sacred poems is the fine piece "His Litany to the Holy Spirit." Herrick also excelled in the writing of epigrams and epitaphs. His reputation declined after his death, but in the 19th cent. he was recognized as a great lyricist.

See edition of his poetical works by L. C. Martin (new ed. 1965); his memoirs, ed. by D. Aaron (1963); biography by G. W. Scott (1974); studies by F. Moorman (1910, repr. 1962), and R. B. Rollin (1966).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Some Poems of Robert Herrick
Robert Herrick.
New Directions, 1942
FREE! Chrysomela: A Selection from the Lyrical Poems of Robert Herrick
Francis Turner Palgrave; Robert Herrick.
Macmillan & Co., 1892
Poetical Works
L. C. Martin; Robert Herrick.
Clarendon Press, 1956
A Treasury of Great Poems: English and American
Louis Untermeyer.
Simon & Schuster, 1942
Librarian’s tip: "Robert Herrick (1591-1674)" begins on p. 389
The Influence of the Latin Elegists on English Lyric Poetry, 1600-1650: With Particular Reference to the Works of Robert Herrick
Pauline Aiken.
University Press, 1932
Two Gentle Men: The Lives of George Herbert and Robert Herrick
Marchette Chute.
E. P. Dutton, 1959
Melody and the Lyric from Chaucer to the Cavaliers
John Murray Gibbon.
J.M. Dent and Sons, Limited, 1930
Librarian’s tip: "Robert Herrick" begins on p. 165
Poetry and the Fountain of Light: Observations on the Conflict between Christian and Classical Traditions in Seventeenth-Century Poetry
H. R. Swardson.
University of Missouri Press, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Chap. II "Herrick and the Ceremony of Mirth"
English Lyric Poetry: The Early Seventeenth Century
Jonathan F. S. Post.
Routledge, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Robert Herrick (1591-1674)" begins on p. 111
John Donne and the Seventeenth-Century Metaphysical Poets
Harold Bloom.
Chelsea House, 1986
Librarian’s tip: "Herrick and the Fruits of the Garden" begins on p. 69
The Age of Milton: An Encyclopedia of Major 17th-Century British and American Authors
Alan Hager.
Greenwood Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: "Robert Herrick (1591-1674)" begins on p. 167
FREE! A History of Elizabethan Literature
George Saintsbury.
MacMillan, 1887
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Robert Herrick begins on p. 354
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