Corinna's Going a-Maying

Original Text: 
Robert Herrick, Hesperides (London: for John Williams and F. Eglesfield to be sold by Thomas Hunt, 1648), of which a section called "His Noble Numbers: or, his Pious Pieces" has a separate title-page dated 1647. Facs. edn. Menston: Scolar, 1969. PR 3512 H4 1648A ROBA
1Get up, get up for shame, the blooming Morn
3      See how Aurora throws her fair
4      Fresh-quilted colours through the air;
5      Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
6      The dew bespangling herb and tree.
7Each flower has wept, and bow'd toward the east,
8Above an hour since; yet you not drest,
9      Nay! not so much as out of bed?
10      When all the birds have matins said,
11      And sung their thankful hymns, 'tis sin,
12      Nay, profanation, to keep in,
13Whenas a thousand virgins on this day
15Rise; and put on your foliage, and be seen
16To come forth, like the spring-time, fresh and green;
18      For jewels for your gown, or hair;
19      Fear not, the leaves will strew
20      Gems in abundance upon you;
21Besides, the childhood of the day has kept,
23      Come and receive them while the light
24      Hangs on the dew-locks of the night;
26      Retires himself, or else stands still
27Till you come forth. Wash, dress, be brief in praying;
29Come, my Corinna, come; and, coming, mark
30How each field turns a street, each street a park
31      Made green and trimm'd with trees; see how
32      Devotion gives each house a bough
33      Or branch; each porch, each door ere this
34      An ark, a tabernacle is,
35Made up of white-thorn, neatly interwove;
36As if here were those cooler shades of love.
37      Can such delights be in the street
38      And open fields and we not see't?
39      Come, we'll abroad; and let's obey
40      The proclamation made for May,
41And sin no more, as we have done, by staying;
42But my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying.
43There's not a budding boy, or girl, this day,
44But is got up, and gone to bring in May.
45      A deal of youth, ere this, is come
46      Back, and with white-thorn laden, home.
47      Some have despatch'd their cakes and cream,
48      Before that we have left to dream;
49And some have wept, and woo'd, and plighted troth,
50And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth;
52      Many a kiss, both odd and even;
53      Many a glance too has been sent
54      From out the eye, love's firmament;
55Many a jest told of the keys betraying
56This night, and locks pick'd, yet we're not a-Maying.
58And take the harmless folly of the time.
59      We shall grow old apace, and die
60      Before we know our liberty.
61      Our life is short, and our days run
62      As fast away as does the sun;
63And as a vapour, or a drop of rain,
64Once lost, can ne'er be found again,
65      So when or you or I are made
66      A fable, song, or fleeting shade,
67      All love, all liking, all delight
68Lies drown'd with us in endless night.
69Then while time serves, and we are but decaying,
70Come, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying.

Notes

2] god unshorn: Apollo. Back to Line
14] May: hawthorn. Back to Line
17] Flora: goddess of flowers, honoured on May-day. Back to Line
22] Against you come: in readiness for your coming. Back to Line
25] Tiran: the sun-god. Back to Line
28] beads: prayers. Back to Line
51] green-gown: by rolling in the grass. Back to Line
57] The stanza echoes phrases from Horace and Catullus. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1648
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.197-98.