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10. Robert Herrick, Hesperides

Peter Davidson

Subject Literature

Place Europe » United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1600-1699, 1700-1799

People Marvell, Andrew

Key-Topics English Civil War, poetry

DOI: 10.1111/b.978063121285X.2001.00012.x


The 1648 Hesperides (in fact two collections published together: the Hesperides themselves and a shorter collection of sacred poems, His Noble Numbers ) seems to be on the point of vanishing from the canon of seventeenth-century poetry as it is now studied. Our chief source for the text of Herrick's poems is the Hesperides or, to give them their full title, Hesperides: or, the works both humane & divine of Robert Herrick Esq. There are very few of his authentic poems which are not contained in this one book. We have every reason to believe that this book (published when the poet was in his fifties) represents his poems as he wished to see them presented, ordered and laid out. The clumsily engraved frontispiece, showing Herrick's bust on a monument in front of a landscape of Parnassus, the hill of the Muses, with the winged horse Pegasus springing skywards, is an early-modern imagination of an ancient Mediterranean landscape which succeeds in looking very English. Ill-drawn cherubs dance in a circle in the middle distance as though they performed a Devonian country dance; two hovering cherubs carry laurels and scatter flowers. On the pedestal which supports Herrick's bust, Latin verses praise his mingling of the ancient with the new and the smooth elegance of his poetic style. This engraving expresses clearly enough Herrick's intentions for his works: they are to be ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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