Robert Herrick (1591-1674) was a 17th century English poet. He loved the richness of sensuality and the variety of life, and this is shown vividly in such poems as Delight in Disorder and Upon Julia’s Clothes. He is well-known for his unique style and, in his earlier works, frequent references to lovemaking and the female body. Herrick never married, and many of the women he names in his poems are thought to be fictional. His later poetry was more of a spiritual and philosophical nature.
To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.
That 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 while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.
Upon Julia’s Breasts
Behold that circummortal purity;
Between whose glories, there my lips I’ll lay,
Ravished in that fair Via Lactea.
Delight in Disorder
Kindles in clothes a wantonness:
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction—
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher—
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbands to flow confusedly—
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat—
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility—
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.
Upon Julia’s Clothes
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
The liquefaction of her clothes.
Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see
That brave vibration, each way free,
Oh, how that glittering taketh me!