Robert Herrick

(1591-1674 / London / England)

Biography of Robert Herrick

Robert Herrick poet

Clergyman and poet, Robert Herrick was born in London, the seventh child of Nicholas Herrick, a wealthy goldsmith. In November 1592, two days after making a will, his father killed himself by jumping from the fourth-floor window of his house. However, the Queen's Almoner did not confiscate the Herrick estate for the crown as was usually the case with suicides. There is no record of Herrick attending school. In 1607 he was apprenticed to his uncle Sir William Herrick as a goldsmith.

'A Country Life: To his Brother M. Tho. Herrick' (1610) is Herrick's earliest known poem, and deals with the move from London to farm life in Leicestershire. 'To My Dearest Sister M. Merice Herrick' was written before 1612. He entered St John's College, Cambridge in 1613, and became friends with Clipsby Crew to whom he addressed several poems such as 'Nuptial Song'. He graduated a Bachelor of Arts in 1617, Master of Arts in 1620, and in 1623 he was ordained priest. By 1625 he was well known as a poet, mixing in literary circles in London such as that of Ben Jonson. In 1629 he was presented by Charles I to the living of Dean Prior, a remote parish of Devonshire. The best of his work was written in the peace and seclusion of country life; 'To Blossoms' and 'To Daffodils' are classical depictions of a devoted appreciation of nature.

However, having refused to subscribe to The Solemn League and Covenant, he was ejected from Devonshire in 1647. He then returned to London publishing his religious poems Noble Numbers (1647), and Hesperides (1648). He was distinguished as a lyric poet, and some of his love songs, for example, 'To Anthea' and 'Gather Ye Rose-buds' are considered exceptional . In 1660 he was reinstated at Dean Prior where he lived for the remainder of his life. He wrote no more poems after 1648, and is buried in an unmarked grave in the churchyard at Dean Prior.

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HIS SAILING FROM JULIA

When that day comes, whose evening says I'm gone
Unto that watery desolation;
Devoutly to thy Closet-gods then pray,
That my wing'd ship may meet no Remora.
Those deities which circum-walk the seas,
And look upon our dreadful passages,
Will from all dangers re-deliver me,
For one drink-offering poured out by thee,
Mercy and Truth live with thee! and forbear,

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