Robert Herrick as a Poet

Robert Herrick was born in 1591 and died in 1674. There are two sides of his life, but he is mostly counted among the clergy poets. As far as his education is concerned, in 1617, he went to the University of Cambridge and graduated in 1617. After an M.A in 1620, he was ordained Episcopal minister and acted as Chaplain to Buckingham on the expedition to the Ile de Re in 1623.He then is found in the company of London city's men of letters and gets acquaintance with them (writers and musicians included).He was grown as a well-known poet about 1620-30.He published the book Hesperides in 1648, including his noble Numbers, a collection of poems on religious subjects. His published book contains about 1400 poems----- short and brief epigrams. In his work, elegies, satires, epigrams, love songs composed on imaginary mistresses, marriage songs, the celebration of rural religious festivals as is found commonly in countryside etc. are found. He was the bachelor, and his love poems introduce imaginary mistresses, showing his rich love for sensuality, but spirituality can't be excluded.

Robert Herrick possesses very elite qualities that's why there is his journey from mundane love to Divine or spiritual love. Its main support is that he was influenced by English lyrics, the Bible, Patristic literature and Jonson.

His three poems-----'To Dianema', 'To Anthea, who may command him anything' and 'To Daffodils' are studied well, and made me write something. In his poetry, addressing notes are found, which are based on the deep description of beauty, obedience and exact truth of this world. Indeed, his work also shows his journey from the Cavalier poet to the cleric.

His poem 'To Dianema', he expresses the imaginary beloved's beauty and affirms that her beauty is comparable to the sky. Her eyes are stars, adding more beauty to her physical existence and makes more beautiful and undefeatable. His beloved is the goddess for him (the goddess of beauty) and possesses an emotional love that satisfies him physically and spiritually. He finds the beauty of the whole world into her and looks to be unexhausted in case of expressing her beauty. Even her pride is loved by him, and his admonition about it is just to get a chance for expressing her beauty more and more. As he says:

SWEET, be not proud of those two eyes

Which star like sparkle in their skies;

Nor be you proud that you can see

He further adds view about his beloved that her beauty is very strange and unattainable, and has made others slave. The slaves are busy for expressing the beauty of their beloved. The lovers don't look for any pause in order to cease the rhyming words in respect of her beauty. Simultaneously, her haughtiness does not allow her to pity them. It is their work to praise, and her work is to show pride over her beauty that is her right.So, all are honest to their work. The Poet uses a religious element to know her reaction, because all manners are dearer to the lover. As he says:

All hearts your captives, yours yet free;

Be you not proud of that rich hair

Which wantons with the love-sick air;

The lover is always in search of making some notes on his beloved's beauty. Here he admires her long hair which catches all who pass by her, and the captured ones never hope to escape, because such slavery is the first and last choice of the lover. Beloved's hair also suffers the wind or nature. Before her beauty, natural things are feeble and like to remain her slave.

It is also definite that she is the most beautiful, and all the worldly things sharpen her beauty, but simultaneously, the poet also awares her with a great loyalty that this beauty has no constancy. It is for time being because man is mortal that's why she should not show vanity over it. Even the ruby that she wears adding beauty to her is more everlasting and durable than her being or beauty. Such fear can not bow her till she may become the lover of someone or pass youth and move towards death.

When as that ruby which you wear,

Sunk from the tip of your soft ear,

Will last to be a precious stone

When all your world of beauty's gone

Sunk from the tip of your soft ear,

Will last to be a precious stone

When all your world of beauty's gone

The poet makes his beloved very outstanding in beauty, and it also brings pride into her being that is forbidden by the poet. In this regard, he also adds some examples and proves that they have more constancy. Indeed, pride is the natal inheritance of the beloved; otherwise, she is not. Her birth as well as her retiring from the world also happens with beauty. This beauty remains in the sense of the lover(s). Hence the lovers should accept it by their hearts.

Devotion and Obedience:

The lover looks crazy in case of obedience. He also likes to die in such obedience and loyalty because it is his eternal goal as is the fire for the moth. The history is evident that lover's place is loneliness; they lost their lives or remained obedient till death occurred. Its main cause is that before love all things are useless. Even wisdom vanishes when love is smelt.

In his poem 'To Anthea, who may command him anything', he expresses complete devotion and welcomes her action sincerely. His heart, life, feelings etc are slave to his beloved, and his entity is with her. Such obedience is due to the beauty of his beloved that is found into her decree. Besides, her face, talking, moving feeling shyness, smiling etc are beautiful, appeasing his sensual part. In this poem, When he talks about the protestant, it means that he is referring religion and it makes the expression spiritual.Besides, his using of 'cypress tree' also indicates his spiritual side because he finds there religious satisfaction.So, there is a true spiritual effect.

The poet is very great and propounds authentication and sanctity of his heart. He is of the opinion that his heart is very soft, kind and is not captivated by any lady. It is free and looking towards her for winning her love. Her order of stopping the beating will be executed because in her decree is his breath. As he says:

A heart as soft, a heart as kind,

A heart as sound and free,

As in the whole world thou canst find,

That heart I'll give to thee.

Bid that heart stay, and it will stay,

To honour thy decree;

The poet is found under the magic charm of her beauty, and his love finds the missing part of his body that compels him to be devoted to her for any sort of sacrifice. He finds immense pleasure into her command and even death is nothing before such command. He is mad into her love, and before love, even wisdom is daunted and takes heel.

As he says:

Or bid me die, and I will dare

E'en death, to die for thee.

Thou art my life, my love, my heart,

The very eyes of me;

And hast command of every part,

To live and die for thee.

It is her beauty that makes him an obedient lover. Her face, talking, moving, feeling shyness, smiling etc are beautiful. The poet is spiritually as well as sensually satiated. The readers can easily analyze the feelings of the poet. He is ready to obey the command because he finds everything there and without it, he is nothing. He is ready to pass the life like the cypress tree.

The Religious Influence:

Religion also teaches the people how to pass life and its rules satisfy the being physically as well as spiritually, and the both heart and mind find universal or neat truth. The religion enhances spirituality and that affects the physique. In result, the both find satisfaction differently.

In case of 'To Daffodils', the poet not only seems pessimist, but also reveals the influence of the Bible. He believes that the world is temporary and life has no constancy. He weeps over the quick fading away of daffodils because they are beautiful. He compares the life of mankind with the life of daffodils, and the both are created by God. They grow fast for decoying because their beauty as well as life is short and compared to the period of spring or summer's rain etc. The poet also says that the Sun is risen now and is not reached to its noon, but the flowers are slipped to die. It also refers to the period of youth, and then requests daffodils to stay till the evening prayer or the Sun set because all will return to the actual place.

Fair Daffodils, we weep to see

you haste away so soon;

As yet the early-rising sun

Has not attain'd his noon.

Religion also informs the people that life is short and the believers must pray of God because in the prayer is beauty and truth. They should avoid following vanity and disbelieving activities.Thats'why he also implores daffodils to stay till he may perform evening prayer to gether. Simultaneously, he explores beauty and truth in her beloved's decree and for that, he is ready to be protestant or devotee.

And he also says:

Stay, stay,

Until the hasting day

Has run

But to the even-song;

And, having pray'd together, we

Will go with you along

In his poem 'To Dianema', he also pursues the beloved not to show vanity over her beauty, it has no constancy and immortality. It is for time being and after that there is death.

The religion needs such submission and devotion as is found in the poem 'To Anthea, who may command any thing". Furthermore, in 'Daffodils', the poet describes about evening prayer, it means he wants to say goodbye to this world after being quenched spiritually.

More about Physical and Spiritual Satisfaction:

Elevated thoughts come out with elevated language with amalgam of music and imagination. It is definite that whenever the poet makes up something, it occurs with the satisfaction of mind and heart. So, the samething is found in the work of Robert Herrick. He wrote about beauty and there is the permission of heart and mind. So his poems issue physical pleasure and then spiritual satisfaction.

According to Oxford Dictionary, sensuality means the enjoyment, expression, or pursuit of physical, especially sexual pleasure. His way of admiring beauty and stating obedience or devotion to his beloved without any enquiry or protest reveals his inclination to spiritualism .The propensity to physical pleasure acquires poor quantity. The poet condemns her pride that comes out of beauty rejects the concept of sexual pleasure. He jumps to the conclusion by describing that beauty has no constancy, so pride should be avoided. Moreover, the beauty pursues the lover for sacrifice for getting nearness, and it is achieved through honest sacrifice. In his poem 'To Anthea, who may command anything' also shows the bright side of spiritual pleasure, and in such pleasure, the poet is ready to be protestant and pass life like the cypress tree. His other poem, 'To Daffodils' also indicates his spiritual side, acquainting with universal truth. The life of mankind is as short as the flowers, and this natural law can not be changed. It is better to be loyal to the Creator and from where, one can achieve satisfaction.Hence, the flowers are satisfied from their life and they are happy, but man is dejected due to non-submission to his Creator. This fault is of the creature as the result of vanity or selfishness.


The Poet's Message:

The Poet holds very unique concept as is found common between 'To Dianema' and 'To Daffodils'. According to his opinion, beauty of women (humanbeing) and daffodils both fade away very soon. The poet uses word 'Spring' for youth that has very short period. They grow fast for decoying .Hence they have not to be stayed for ever. That's why he is against pride that betrays mankind and looses the charm of relationship.

We have short time to stay, as you,

We have as short a spring;

As quick a growth to meet decay,

As you, or anything.

As the poet addresses to 'Dianema':

When all your world of beauty's gone

Sunk from the tip of your soft ear,

Will last to be a precious stone

When all your world of beauty's gone

He is of the opinion that artificial things which are made for the creature have more constancy than his/her beauty. When the beauty or youth is decoyed, the beauty of stone or earring also remains in same condition till some time.Hence, the poet spiritual informs her about reality.

In 'Anthea, who may command anything', he also finds beauty and truth in her decree that's why he shows devotion, and is ready to be protestant in love and pass the life like cypress tree. It is the goal of religious person to achieve love o God and to pass life very simple and consume the time in His love.

Elaboration of Some Words or Phrases:

In these three poems, the poet has used some words and phrases need expansion for the assistance of the readers in order to understand the work easily and spiritually. In the Poem "To Anthea" who may command me of anything" uses the word protestant:

Bid me to live, and I will live

Thy protestant to be;

So 'protestant' means to be a religious person and not to look to others for any command except God. He finds in her decree beauty and truth that's why he wants to have relations like religion and disciple.So, he wants to be her forever and not to look other because the protestant keep deep faith and loyalty.

The poet says:

Bid me despair and I'll despair,

Under that cypress tree;

I think Cypress is the name of tree that is bold and looks dry. Indeed it is neither dry nor green. It also remains in this constant position and is used as the symbol of dejection

In his poem, he uses 'spring' and the summer's rains. Spring season is very short and compared to the youth of living creature. Simultaneously, it is used for daffodils as well as for human being. After it, the life moves towards death. When the youth ends, the life starts decaying and at last, embraces the death.

The Poet also adds other phrase in respect of short life:

Like to the summer's rain;

Or as the pearls of morning's dew,

Here he adds two examples for same thing. The first is of summer's rain. When it rains in summer, it is sucked by the earth and it stays on the earth for short time. In summer, due to hot season, the earth is very thirsty and absorbs the water all of sudden. This short time is compared to the youth of daffodils and mankind.

The other example is of dew; its pearls shine on flowers and other things for short time, because the sun rays decay it for ever.So, this short time is also compared to the youth of daffodils as well as mankind.

"To Dianema", the poet describes very splendid points in case of short life. As he says:

SWEET, be not proud of those two eyes

Which star like sparkle in their skies;

Here is the aesthetic description of his beloved. The poet elaborates that his beloved is very beautiful and here eyes also make her more beautiful and striking as the sky is with the stars. So she should not be proudful because this beauty is temporary that leads to the end of life. The poet informs his beloved, and it also satiates him spiritually.

Robert Herrick's work also shines aesthetic glance in abundance, and the element of spiritualism adds more beauty to it nicely. It needs more study from all directions thoroughly. So, his journey from physical pleasure to spirituality provides allegorical thoughts which are very easy to be understood and to be promoted. I think this is the beauty in which he found truth that led him to gaining the love of lord. Moreover, his poetry attains such blessed place which is replete with the sign posts which help to gain nearness of the lord. His passage is very great example for others and that's why he has attained an emerald place in his era.