Monday, May 21, 2012

Corrina's Going a-Maying / Robert Herrick

Corinna's Going a-Maying

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
                     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,
                     And sung their thankful Hymns: 'tis sin,
                     Nay, profanation to keep in,
When as a thousand Virgins on this day,
Spring, sooner than the Lark, to fetch in May.

Rise; and put on your Foliage, and be seen
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:
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
                     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
                     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;
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:
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
                     Back, and with White-thorn laden home.
                     Some have dispatched 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:
                     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
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.
                     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'r be found again:
                     So when or you or I are made
                     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..

Robert Herrick
from Hesperides, 1648

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Robert Herrick biography

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