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© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Robert Herrick (Cavalier Poet): Selected full-text books and articles

Some Poems of Robert Herrick By Robert Herrick New Directions, 1942
FREE! Chrysomela: A Selection from the Lyrical Poems of Robert Herrick By Robert Herrick; Francis Turner Palgrave Macmillan & Co., 1892
Poetical Works By Robert Herrick; L. C. Martin Clarendon Press, 1956
A Treasury of Great Poems: English and American By Louis Untermeyer Simon & Schuster, 1942
Librarian’s tip: "Robert Herrick (1591-1674)" begins on p. 389
Melody and the Lyric from Chaucer to the Cavaliers By 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 By 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 By 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 By 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 By Alan Hager Greenwood Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: "Robert Herrick (1591-1674)" begins on p. 167
FREE! A History of Elizabethan Literature By George Saintsbury MacMillan, 1887
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Robert Herrick begins on p. 354
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