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TO CORINNA, TO GO A-MAYING.
(ROBERT HERRICK, the son of a goldsmith, was born in London, in the year 1591. He studied at Cambridge, took holy orders, and obtained a living from Charles I. This he lost during the Civil Wars, and received again at the Restoration. He is believed to have lived to a good old age, though the time of his death is unknown.
Herrick associated with Ben Jonson and the other social spirits of the time. His poems exhibit, in some instances, a licentiousness which he deeply regretted in his after life. His language is picturesque and beautiful, and his verses, though very irregular, are, at times, extremely melodious. ]
Get up, get up for shame, the blooming morn
Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
See how Aurora throws her fair
Fresh-quilted colours through the air ;
Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
The dew bespangling herb and tree.
Each flower has wept, and bow'd toward the east,
Above an hour since, yet you are not drest,
Nay, not so much as out of bed;
When all the birds have matins said,
And sung their thankful hymns: 'tis sin,
Nay, profanation, to keep in,
When as a thousand virgins on this day
Spring sooner than the lark to fetch in May.
Rise, and put on your foliage, and be seen
To come forth, like the spring-time, fresh and green,
And sweet as Flora. Take no care
For jewels for your gown or hair ;
Fear not, the leaves will strew
Gems in abundance upon you;
Besides, the childhood of the day has kept,
Against you come, some orient pearls unwept.
Come, and receive them while the light
Hangs on the dew-locks of the night :
And Titan on the eastern hill
Retires himself, or else stands still
Till you come forth. Wash, dress, be brief in praying ;
Few beads are best, when once we go a-Maying.
Come, my Corinna, come; and, coming, mark
How each field turns a street, each street a park
Made green, and trimm'd with trees; see how
Devotion gives each house a bough,
Or branch ; each porch, each door, ere this,
An ark, a tabernacle is,
Made up of white thorn neatly interwove;
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
Can such delights be in the street,
And open fields, and we not see't ?
Come, we'll abroad, and let's obey
The proclamation made for May:
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying,
But, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying.
There's not a budding boy or girl, this day,
But is got up, and gone to bring in May.
A deal of youth, ere this, is come
Back, and with white thorn laden home.
Some have despatch'd their cakes and cream
Before that we have left to dream;
And some have wept, and wooed, and plighted troth,
And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth :
Many a green gown has been given ;
Many a kiss, both odd and even;
Many a glance, too, has been sent
From out the eye, love's firmament;
Many a jest told of the key's betraying
This night, and locks pick'd : yet w are not a-Maying.
Come, let us go, while we are in our prime,
And take the harmless folly of the time.
We shall grow old apace, and die
Before we know our liberty.
Our life is short, and our days run
As fast away as does the sun ;
And as a vapour, or a drop of rain
Once lost, can ne'er be found again ;
So when or you or I are made
A fable, song, or fleeting shade ;
All love, all liking, all delight
Lies drown'd with us in endless night.
Then, while time serves, and we are but decaying,
Come, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying.
Sweet country life, to such unknown,
Whose lives are others', not their own!
But, serving courts and cities, be
Less happy, less enjoying thee.
Thou never ploughed the ocean's foam,
To seek and bring rough pepper home ;
Nor to the eastern Ind dost rove,
To bring from thence the scorched clove;