Robert Herrick

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Herrick, Robert,

1591–1674, English poet, generally considered the greatest of the Cavalier poetsCavalier poets,
a group of English poets associated with Charles I and his exiled son. Most of their work was done between c.1637 and 1660. Their poetry embodied the life and culture of upper-class, pre-Commonwealth England, mixing sophistication with naïveté,
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. Although he was born in London, he spent most of his childhood in Hampton. In 1607 he became apprenticed to his uncle, jeweler to the king, and remained in London until 1613. He was graduated from Cambridge, and sometime before 1627 he took orders. In 1627 he was chaplain in the duke of Buckingham's disastrous expedition to the Isle of Ré. Two years later Herrick was given the country living of Dean Prior in Devonshire, remaining there until 1647, when he was ejected because of royalist sympathies. He was restored to his living in 1662 and remained there until his death. Herrick never married, and the many women mentioned in his poems are probably imaginary. The bulk of his work is contained in the Hesperides (1648), which when it first appeared included his sacred songs called Noble Numbers. He was a disciple of Ben Jonson and his lyrics show considerable classical influence, but his greatness rests on his simplicity, his sensuousness, his care for design and detail, and his management of words and rhythms. Among the best known of his lyrics are "The Night Piece, to Julia"; the song commencing "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may"; "Corinna's Going a-Maying"; "To Anthea"; "Cherry-ripe"; and "Upon Julia's Clothes." Among his sacred poems is the fine piece "His Litany to the Holy Spirit." Herrick also excelled in the writing of epigrams and epitaphs. His reputation declined after his death, but in the 19th cent. he was recognized as a great lyricist.

Bibliography

See edition of his poetical works by L. C. Martin (new ed. 1965); his memoirs, ed. by D. Aaron (1963); biography by G. W. Scott (1974); studies by F. Moorman (1910, repr. 1962), and R. B. Rollin (1966).


Herrick, Robert,

1868–1938, American novelist, b. Cambridge, Mass., grad. Harvard, 1890. He was professor of English at the Univ. of Chicago from 1893 to 1923. Herrick wrote realistic social novels about the conflict between professional and personal values in American capitalistic society. His works include The Common Lot (1904), The Memoirs of an American Citizen (1905), The Master of the Inn (1908), Together (1908), Clark's Field (1914), Waste (1924), Chimes (1926), and The End of Desire (1932).