ROBERT HERRICK 1591 -
Herrick: by the Italian engraver Niccolo Schiavonetti (1771-
The Cavalier Poets:
Sir John Suckling
and Thomas Carew
xxxxxThe English cleric and “Cavalier Poet” Robert Herrick is especially remembered for his Hesperides of 1648. Named after the mythological garden of golden apples, this collection of lyrics contains the well-
xxxxxThe English cleric and "Cavalier Poet" Robert Herrick is remembered above all for his Hesperides, published in 1648 and named after the mythological garden of golden apples. A collection of lyrics, it contains the well-
xxxxxOwing much to classical models, particularly that of Catullus and Martial, and much influenced by English folklore, the Bible, and the works of Ben Jonson, his verse touched on a wide range of subjects, from satire, love and erotic fantasy on the one hand, to pastoral themes, politics and religion on the other. His religious poems were included under a separate section, named Noble Numbers, and dated a year earlier, 1647. The 1400 or so short poems that make up the collection are noted for their variety of form, their intensity of feeling, and the restrained, classical style in which they were written. Manyxshow a deep appreciation of nature and, because of their melodious quality, a number were set to music, some by the talented contemporary composer Henry Lawes (1595-
xxxxxHerrick was born in London of a wealthy family and, as a young man, mixed in court circles. It was at this time that he made the acquaintance of Ben Jonson and other writers. He entered Cambridge University in 1614 and, after being ordained, he served for a time as chaplain to the Duke of Buckingham, accompanying him on his ill-
xxxxxHerewith are the first and last verses of his well-
xxxxxThe Cavalier Poets, of which Herrick was one, were a group of gentlemen poets who remained loyal to the king throughout the Civil War and, following his execution, supported his son, Charles, in exile and at the Restoration. Their polished, elegant lyrics are mostly centred around loyalty, beauty and courtly love. Delicate and graceful in style and lightweight in subject matter, they are in marked contrast to the bitter and bloody conflict raging throughout the realm during the desperately troubled years of the 1640s. Among their number, and all attached to the royal court, were Richard Lovelace, Sir John Suckling and Thomas Carew.
xxxxxRichard Lovelace (1618-
xxxxxThe courtier Sir John Suckling (1609-
xxxxxSir John Suckling (1609-
xxxxxHe produced four plays in the style of Beaumont and Fletcher, the best two being his tragedy Aglaura, performed in 1637, and his comedy The Goblins, staged a year later. He is best remembered for his lyrics, notably his masterpiece A Ballad for a Wedding, and his amusing skit entitled A Session of the Poets, published after his death. Those of his letters which have survived are both chatty and witty, and anticipate the liberated style of the Restoration.
xxxxxIncidentally, during his days at court he gained a reputation as a gambler when bowling or playing cards. He is credited with having invented the card-
xxxxxThomas Carew (c1595-
xxxxxOne of his most memorable works was his Elegy on the Death of Dr. Donne, published in 1633 in the first edition of John Donne's poetry. A fine piece of poetic criticism, he speaks highly of the quality of Donne's verse, praising him for opening "a mine of rich and pregnant fancy", and describing him as the "universal monarch of wit" in his day.
xxxxxThe English poet Richard Lovelace (1618-
xxxxxThomas Carew (c1595-
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.