ROBERT HERRICK: 1591-1674.

Herrick, one of the most exquisite of our early lyrical poets, was educated

for the church, and was presented by Charles I. to the vicarage of Dean Prior in Devonshire. From this he was ejected during the Civil War, but was replaced in it at the Restoration.


Fair pledges of a fruitful tree,
Why do


fall so fast ?
Your date is not so past,

you may stay yet here awhile
To blush and gently smile,

And go at last.
What, were ye born to be

An hour or half's delight,

And so to bid good-night ?
'Twas pity Nature brought ye forth,
Merely to shew your worth

And lose you quite.
But you are lovely leaves, where we

May read, how soon things have

Their end, though ne'er so brave :
And after they have shewn their pride,
Like you, awhile, they glide

Into the grave.


Fair daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon ;
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attained his noon :

Stay, stay,
Until the hast'ning day

Has run
But to the even-song ;
And having prayed together, we

Will go with you along !

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 :

We die,
As your hours do ; and dry

Like to the summer's rain,
Or as the pearls of morning-dew,

Ne'er to be found again.


Gather the rose-buds while ye may,

Old Time is still a-flying ; And this same flower that smiles to-day

To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heav'n, the sun,

The higher he's a-getting, The sooner will his race be run,

And nearer he's to setting.


age is best which is the first, When youth and blood are warmer ; But being spent, the worse and worst

Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,

And, whilst ye may, go marry ; For having lost but once your prime,

You may for ever tarry.

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Cowley, the last and greatest of the metaphysical poets, was the son of a

stationer in London. He was educated at Cambridge and at Oxford. Cowley attached himself to the king's party during the Civil War, and accompanied the queen to France, where he was employed in deciphering the correspondence between her and the king. He returned to England in 1656, and at the Restoration, finding his services neglected and unrewarded, he retired to Chertsey, on the banks of the Thames, where he spent the rest of his life. His works consist of Anacreontics (light, gay trifles, in the manner of the Greek poet Anacreon); elegiac poems; an epic named The Davideis ; a long poem descriptive of plants; and a few epistles and miscellanies. (For a specimen of Cowley's prose, see Readings in English Prose, page 44.)


Happy insect! what can be
In happiness compared to thee?
Fed with nourishment divine,
The dewy morning's gentle wine !
Nature waits upon thee still,
And thy verdant cup does fill;
'Tis filled wherever thou dost tread,
Nature self 's thy Ganymede.1
Thou dost drink, and dance, and sing,
Happier than the happiest king!
All the fields which thou dost see,
All the plants belong to thee;
All that summer hours produce,
Fertile made with early juice.
Man for thee does sow and plough ;
Farmer be, and landlord thou !

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Cup-bearer. Ganymede was cup-bearer to Zeus.

Thou dost innocently enjoy ;
Nor does thy luxury destroy.
The shepherd gladly heareth thee,
More harmonious than he.
Thee country hinds with gladness hear,
Prophet of the ripened year!
Thee Phæbus loves, and does inspire ;
Phæbus is himself thy sire.
To thee, of all things upon earth,
Life is no longer than thy mirth.
Happy insect! happy thou,
Dost neither age nor winter know.
But when thou 'st drunk, and danced, and sung
Thy fill, the flowery leaves among-
Voluptuous and wise withal,
Epicurean animal !
Satiated with thy summer feast,
Thou retir'st to endless rest.


Say, from what golden quivers of the sky

Do all thy winged arrows fly?

Swiftness and Power by birth are thine From thy great Sire they come, thy Sire, the Word Divine. Thou in the moon's bright chariot, proud and gay,

Dost thy bright world of stars survey,

And all the year dost with thee bring
Of thousand flow'ry lights thine own nocturnal spring.

Thou, Scythian-like, dost round thy lands above

The Sun's gilt tent for ever move,
And still, as thou in pomp


go, The shining pageants of the world attend thy show.

Nor amidst all these triumphs dost thou scorn

The humble glowworms to adorn,

And with those living spangles gild (O greatness without pride !) the bushes of the field.

SIR JOHN DENHAM: 1615-1668.

Denham is known chiefly by his Cooper's Hill, a poem descriptive of the

scenery of the river Thames.

THE THAMES. From Cooper's Hill.


My eye, descending from the Hill, surveys
Where Thames among the wanton valleys strays ;
Thames ! the most loved of all the Ocean's sons,
By his old sire, to his embraces runs,
Hasting to pay his tribute to the sea,
Like mortal life to meet eternity.
Though with those streams he no resemblance hold,
Whose foam is amber and their gravel gold,
His genuine and less guilty wealth t explore,
Search not his bottom, but survey his shore,
O'er which he kindly spreads his spacious wing,
And hatches plenty for th' ensuing spring ;
Nor then destroys it with too fond a stay,
Like mothers which their infants overlay ;
Nor with a sudden and impetuous wave,
Like profuse kings, resumes the wealth he gave.
No unexpected inundations spoil
The mower's hopes, nor mock the ploughman's toil;
But godlike his unwearied bounty flows;
First loves to do, then loves the good he does.
Nor are his blessings to his banks confined,
But free and common as the sea or wind;
When he, to boast or to disperse his stores,
Full of the tributes of his grateful shores,
Visits the world, and in his flying towers
Brings home to us, and makes both Indies ours;
Finds wealth where ’tis, bestows it where it wants,
Cities in deserts, woods in cities, plants ;
So that to us no thing, no place, is strange,
While his fair bosom is the world's exchange.
O, could I flow like thee, and make thy stream
My great example, as it is my theme !
Though deep yet clear ; though gentle yet not dull;
Strong without rage; without o'erflowing full.

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