Live Merrily, and Trust Good Verses

Cabernet by Tim CarlRobert Herrick was an English poet who lived from 1591–1674. Until recently he was considered only a “minor poet.” But, his work has found new life, which goes to show that one’s work may have a life that is unknown to its creator.

But why is Mr. Herrick’s poetry here in the Napa Valley Writers Blog? Well, in this particular poem he talks about wine and asks us to live well and trust the words of thoughtful writers, which sounds pretty “Napa Valley” to us. Additionally, he lists many of the greatest poets: Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Catullus, Tibullus, which makes this poem a nice reference for those interested in learning the history poetry.

To Live Merrily, and to Trust to Good Verses
By Robert Herrick

Now is the time for mirth,
         Nor cheek or tongue be dumb;
For with the flow’ry earth
         The golden pomp is come.


The golden pomp is come;
         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 besmears
My uncontrolled brow
         And my retorted hairs.


Homer, this health to thee,
         In sack of such a kind
That it would make thee see
         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.


A goblet next I’ll drink
         To Ovid, and suppose,
Made he the pledge, he’d think
         The world had all one nose.


Then this immensive cup
         Of aromatic wine,
Catullus, I quaff up
         To that terse muse of thine.


Wild I am now with heat;
         O Bacchus! cool thy rays!
Or frantic, I shall eat
         Thy thyrse, and bite the bays.


Round, round the roof does run;
         And being ravish’d thus,
Come, I will drink a tun
         To my Propertius.


Now, to Tibullus, next,
         This flood I drink to thee;
But stay, I see a text
         That this presents to me.


Behold, Tibullus lies
         Here burnt, whose small return
Of ashes scarce suffice
         To fill a little urn.


Trust to good verses then;
         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,
Then only numbers sweet
         With endless life are crown’d.


Read more about Robert Herrick here.

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