Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
To Live Merrily and to Trust to Good Verses
By Robert Herrick (1591–1674)
 
NOW 1 is the time for mirth,
  Nor cheek or tongue be dumb;
For, with the flowery earth,
  The golden pomp is come.
 
The golden pomp is come;        5
  For now each tree does wear,
Made of her pap and gum,
  Rich beads of amber here:
 
Now reigns the rose, and now
  Th’ Arabian dew 2 besmears        10
My uncontrollèd brow
  And my retorted hairs. 3
 
Homer, this health to thee!
  —In sack of such a kind
That it would make thee see        15
  Though thou wert ne’er so blind.
 
Next, Virgil I’ll call forth
  To pledge this second health
In wine, whose each cup’s worth
  An Indian commonwealth.        20
 
A goblet next I’ll drink
  To Ovid, and suppose,
Made he the pledge, he’d think
  The world had all one nose. 4
 
Then this immensive cup 5        25
  Of aromatic wine,
Catullus, I’ll quaff up
  To that terse muse of thine.
 
Wild I am now with heat:
  O Bacchus, cool thy rays!        30
Or frantic I shall eat
  Thy thyrse and bite the bays.
 
Round, round the roof does run,
  And being ravished thus,
Come, I will drink a tun        35
  To my Propertius.
 
Now to Tibullus, next,
  This flood I’ll drink to thee:
But stay, I see a text
  That this presents to me:—        40
 
Behold, Tibullus lies
  Here burnt, whose small return
Of ashes scarce suffice
  To fill a little urn.
 
Trust to good verses then:        45
  They only will aspire
When pyramids, as men,
  Are lost i’ th’ funeral fire.
 
And when all bodies meet
  In Lethe to be drown’d,        50
Then only numbers sweet
  With endless life are crown’d.
 
Note 1. Now is the time for mirth.  Line 7, Of her pap: i.e., sap. [back]
Note 2. Arabian dew: spikenard. [back]
Note 3. Retorted hairs: tossed wildly back. [back]
Note 4. The world had all one nose: a play on the poet’s name—Ovidius Naso. [back]
Note 5. This immensive cup: i.e., measureless. [back]
 
 
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