Poetical Works

Poetical Works

Poetical Works

Poetical Works

Excerpt

The first object of this volume is to provide a reliable text of all Herrick's ascertained writings and of all such other writings as can reasonably be attributed to him. Most of the material comes from his own collection, Hesperides (with His Noble Numbers), first published in 1648 and not again until the nineteenth century. That volume contains over fourteen hundred poems and for a very large proportion of these it is the sole authority. It also seems to give revised versions of the relatively few poems which had already been printed or copied into manuscript commonplace-books; and no later revisions are known to have been made. It is therefore the indispensable basis of any modern text and is closely followed in the present edition. Variant readings, which often seem to preserve the unrevised text, the supplied from specified sources. A number of poems not previously ascribed to Herrick are included. An appendix contains the letters which Herrick addressed while at Cambridge to his uncle, Sir William Herrick.

An outline of his life is given in the Introduction, with a brief survey of his reputation in the seventeenth century and after; there too some considerations are offered on the Herrick canon, on his apparent revisions of his work, and on the chronology of the poems.

Herrick's poetry has never been very fully annotated and Moorman's edition of 1915 had no commentary. That which is now supplied owes a considerable debt to earlier editions and studies and to such works of reference as The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs and M. P. Tilley The Proverbs in England in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. But the greatest help has come from a scholar, no longer living, whose work has never been duly appreciated because it has never been generally accessible. This was the Rev. Charles Percival Phinn (d. 1906), who seems to have devoted the leisure of many years to the study of Herrick's poetry, and whose copious and learned notes are inscribed in a copy of Grosart's three-volume Herrick now in the British Museum. At Phinn's own suggestion a number of these notes were . . .

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