A Movie Log

A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Poems of the Day: Robert Herrick

The Night Piece, to Julia 

Her eyes the glowworm lend thee; 
The shooting stars attend thee; 
     And the elves also, 
     Whose little eyes glow 
Like the sparks of fire, befriend thee. 

No will-o'-the-wisp mislight thee; 
Nor snake or slowworm bite thee; 
     But on, on thy way, 
     Not making a stay, 
Since ghost there's none to affright thee. 

Let not the dark thee cumber; 
What though the moon does slumber? 
     The stars of the night 
     Will lend thee their light, 
Like tapers clear without number. 

Then, Julia, let me woo thee, 
Thus, thus to come unto me; 
     And when I shall meet 
     Thy silvery feet, 
My soul I'll pour into thee. 


Upon Julia's Clothes 

Whenas in silks my Julia goes, 
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows 
That liquefaction of her clothes. 
Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see 
That brave vibration, each way free, 
O, how that glittering taketh me! 
--Robert Herrick

Are there more accomplished love poems in English than Herrick's? Has anyone better evoked the sound and feel of silk? Has anyone better skirted the boundaries of explicitness? (Of course, I have to recall the experience of a friend who assigned her class "Upon Julia's Clothes" and got this paraphrase: "When Herrick sees Julia wearing silk, he has a liquefaction in his clothes.") I picked two poems today because I couldn't choose which one I liked more.

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