Classics  
English    1591 - 1674   
Robert Herrick was a 17th century English poet.
Robert Herrick was a 17th century English poet.

Have ye beheld (with much delight)
A red rose peeping through a white?
Or else a cherry (double graced)
Within a lily? Centre placed?
Or ever marked the pretty beam
A strawberry shows half drowned in cream?
Or seen rich rubies blushing through
A pure smooth pearl, and orient too?
So like to this, nay all the rest,
Is each neat niplet of her breast.

Display thy breasts, my Julia—there let me
Behold that circummortal purity,
Between whose glories there my lips I’ll lay,
Ravish’d in that fair via lactea.

Here a pretty baby lies
Sung asleep with lullabies:
Pray be silent and not stir
Th’ easy earth that covers her.

When a daffodil I see,
Hanging down his head towards me,
Guess I may what I must be:
First, I shall decline my head;
Secondly, I shall be dead;
Lastly, safely buried.

Sweet, be not proud of those two eyes
Which starlike sparkle in their skies;
Nor be you proud that you can see
All hearts your captives, yours yet free;
Be you not proud of that rich hair
Which wantons with the love-sick air;
Whenas that ruby which you wear,
Sunk from the tip of your soft ear,
Will last to be a precious stone
When all your world of beauty’s gone.

Droop, droop no more, or hang the head,
Ye roses almost withered;
Now strength and newer purple get,
Each here declining violet.
O primroses! let this day be
A resurrection unto ye;
And to all flowers ally’d in blood,
Or sworn to that sweet sisterhood:
For health on Julia’s cheek hath shed
Claret and cream commingled;
And those her lips do now appear
As beams of coral, but more clear.

Fain would I kiss my Julia’s dainty leg,
Which is as white and hairless as an egg.

To me my Julia lately sent
A bracelet richly redolent:
The beads I kissed, but most lov’d her
That did perfume the pomander.

Would ye have fresh cheese and cream?
Julia’s breast can give you them:
And, if more, each nipple cries:
To your cream here’s strawberries.

To-morrow, Julia, I betimes must rise,
For some small fault to offer sacrifice:
The altar’s ready: fire to consume
The fat; breathe thou, and there’s the rich perfume.

The Rose was sick and smiling died;
And, being to be sanctified,
About the bed there sighing stood
The sweet and flowery sisterhood:
Some hung the head, while some did bring,
To wash her, water from the spring;
Some laid her forth, while others wept,
But all a solemn fast there kept:
The holy sisters, some among,
The sacred dirge and trental sung.
But ah! what sweet smelt everywhere,
As Heaven had spent all perfumes there.
At last, when prayers for the dead
And rites were all accomplishèd,
They, weeping, spread a lawny loom,
And closed her up as in a tomb.

Why I tie about thy wrist,
      Julia, this my silken twist;
      For what other reason is ‘t,
But to show thee how, in part,
Thou my pretty captive art?
But thy bondslave is my heart;
’Tis but silk that bindeth thee,
Knap the thread and thou art free:
But ’tis otherwise with me;
—I am bound, and fast bound, so
That from thee I cannot go;
If I could, I would not so.

So smooth, so sweet, so silv’ry is thy voice
As, could they hear, the damn’d would make no noise,
But listen to thee, walking in thy chamber,
Melting melodious words to lutes of amber.

Mine eyes, like clouds, were drizzling rain;
And as they thus did entertain
The gentle beams from Julia’s sight
To mine eyes levell’d opposite,
O thing admir’d!  there did appear
A curious rainbow smiling there;
Which was the covenant that she
No more would drown mine eyes or me.

Would ye oil of blossoms get?
Take it from my Julia’s sweat:
Oil of lilies and of spike?
From her moisture take the like,
Let her breathe, or let her blow,
All rich spices thence will flow.

By those soft tods of wool
With which the air is full;
By all those tinctures there,
That paint the hemisphere;
By dews and drizzling rain
That swell the golden grain;
By all those sweets that be
I’ the flowery nunnery;
By silent nights, and the
Three forms of Hecate;
By all aspects that bless
The sober sorceress,
While juice she strains, and pith
To make her philters with;
By time that hastens on
Things to perfection;
And by yourself, the best
Conjurement of the rest:
O my Electra! be
In love with none but me.

This day, my Julia, thou must make
For Mistress Bride the wedding-cake:
Knead but the dough, and it will be
To paste of almonds turn’d by thee:
Or kiss it thou but once or twice,
And for the bride-cake there’ll be spice.

Fair pledges of a fruitful tree,
  Why do ye fall so fast?
  Your date is not so past
But you may stay yet here awhile
  To blush and gently smile,
      And go at last.

What! were ye born to be
  An hour or half’s delight,
  And so to bid good night?
’Twas pity Nature brought you forth
  Merely to show your worth
      And lose you quite.

But you are lovely leaves, where we
  May read how soon things have
  Their end, though ne’er so brave:
And after they have shown their pride
  Like you awhile, they glide
      Into the grave.

Shut not so soon; the dull-eyed night
Has not as yet begun
To make a seizure on the light,
Or to seal up the sun.

No marigolds yet closed are;
No shadows great appear;
Nor doth the early shepherds’ star
Shine like a spangle here.

Stay but till my Julia close
Her life-begetting eye,
And let the whole world then dispose
Itself to live or die.

Th’ast dar’d too far ; but, fury, now forbear
To give the least disturbance to her hair:
But less presume to play a plait upon
Her skin’s most smooth and clear expansion.
’Tis like a lawny firmament as yet,
Quite dispossess’d of either fray or fret.
Come thou not near that film so finely spread,
Where no one piece is yet unlevelled.
This if thou dost, woe to thee, fury, woe,
I’ll send such frost, such hail, such sleet, and snow,
Such fears, quakes, palsies, and such heats as shall
Dead thee to th’ most, if not destroy thee all.
And thou a thousand thousand times shalt be
More shak’d thyself than she is scorched by thee.

 
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