Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
 
Corinna’s Going a Maying
By Robert Herrick (1591–1674)
 
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        5
    The dew bespangling herb and tree.
Each flower has wept, and bow’d toward the east,
Above an hour since; yet you not drest,
    Nay! not so much as out of bed?
    When all the birds have matins said,        10
    And sung their thankful hymns: ’tis sin,
    Nay, profanation, to keep in,—
Whenas a thousand virgins on this day,
Spring, sooner than the lark, to fetch in May.
 
Rise; and put on your foliage, and be seen        15
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:        20
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        25
    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        30
    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;        35
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:        40
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        45
    Back, and with white-thorn laden home.
    Some have dispatch’d their cakes and cream,
    Before that we have left to dream:
And some have wept, and woo’d, and plighted troth,
And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth:        50
    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 keys betraying        55
This night, and locks pick’d:—yet we’re 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.        60
    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        65
    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.        70
 
 
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