Why Read Herrick?

Katharine Eisaman Maus

in ‘Lords of Wine and Oile’

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199604777
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191729355 | DOI:
Why Read Herrick?

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Herrick has a mixed reputation. On the one hand Hesperides includes some of the best known, best loved poems in the English language. Still, Herrick is widely condescended to in the criticism, because he is apparently not ‘great’ in the way we usually think important writers are supposed to be. This essay discusses some of the salient characteristics of Hesperides: in particular its preference for reiteration over causal sequence, its apparently deliberate thwarting of narrative momentum, and its interest in materials often considered trivial or valueless. It argues that these features are evidence not of a failure or a lack but of Herrick’s intelligent scepticism about the value of goal-oriented ambition.

Keywords: Herrick; Hesperides; Cavalier; repetition; career; pleasure

Chapter.  5470 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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