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The Rhyme Maker
Robert Herrick
Robert Herrick

Theme:  Poetry and Poets

"His Farewell to Sack" would more meaningfully today be titled “His Farewell To Wine”, Sack being a popular wine of our poet's time. 

 Robert Herrick has decided to give up wine for health reasons, and this is his farewell to his favorite beverage. (Also see The Welcome to Sack, the follow-up to this poem)  This wine poem is full of praise and a guarded respect for the role wine has played in his and other poet's lives. Legendary wine poets Horace and Anacreon are mentioned as being beholding to wine's influence, as well as the gods themselves, specifically Apollo (god of poetry and music) and the nine Muses (“those thrice three Castalian sisters”).

* "maidenhead":  the state of being a virgin, a reference to the hymen.

** “numbers” and “lays” are other names for poetry.

***Manuscripts were preserved with cedar oil.  In ancient times, a laurel wreath, whose berries were called “bays”, was awarded to the exceptional poet.
- S. H. Bass  

more Robert Herrick at
A Lyric to Mirth
An Ode To Sir Clipseby Crew

Bacchus let me drink no more

Born I was to meet with age

How He Would Drink His Wine

I fear no earthly powers

I sing thy praise, Iacchus

Meat Without Mirth

The Hock-Cart Or Harvest Home

The Welcome To Sack

To Bacchus: A Canticle
To Live Merrily And To Trust To Good Verses
To Sir Clipseby Crew
To The Water Nymphs
To Youth
When He Would Have His Verses Read

Stop Button Clutter!
His Farewell to Sack
Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

Farewell thou thing, time past so known, so dear
To me as blood to life and spirit; near,
Nay, thou more near than kindred, friend, man,
Male to the female, soul to body; life
To quick action, or the warm soft side
Of the resigning, yet resisting bride.
The kiss of virgins, first fruits of the bed,
Soft speech, smooth touch, the lips, the
These and a thousand sweets could never be
So near or dear as thou wast once to me.
O thou, the drink of gods and angels! wine
That scatter'st spirit and lust, whose purest shine
More radiant than the summer's sunbeam shows;
Each way illustrious, brave, and like to those
Comets we see by night, whose shagg'd portents
Foretell the coming of some dire events,
Or some full flame which with a pride aspires,
Throwing about his wild and active fires;
'Tis thou, above nectar, O divinest soul!
Eternal in thyself, that can'st control
That which subverts whole nature, grief and
Vexation of the mind, and damn'd despair.
'Tis thou alone who, with thy mystic fan,
Workst more than wisdom, art, or nature can
To rouse the sacred madness and awake
The frost-bound blood and spirits, and to make
Them frantic with thy raptures flashing through
The soul like lightning, and as active too.
'Tis not Apollo can, or those thrice three
Castalian sisters, sing, if wanting thee.
Horace, Anacreon, both had lost their fame,
Hads't thou not fill'd them with thy fire and
Phoebean splendor! and thou, Thespian spring!
Of which sweet swans must drink before they
Their true pac'd numbers and their holy lays, **
Which makes them worthy cedar and the bays. ***
But why, why longer do I gaze upon
Thee with the eye of admiration?
Since I must leave thee, and enforc'd must say
To all thy witching beauties, Go away.
But if thy whimpering looks do ask me why,
Then know that nature bids thee go, not I.
'Tis her erroneous self has made a brain
Uncapable of such a sovereign
As is thy powerful self. Prithee not smile,
Or smile more inly, lest thy looks beguile
My vows denounc'd in zeal, which thus much
show thee
That I have sworn but by thy looks to know thee.
Let others drink thee freely, and desire
Thee and their lips espous'd, while I admire
And love thee, but not taste thee. Let my muse
Fail of thy former helps, and only use
Her inadultrate strength: what's done by me
Hereafter shall smell of the lamp, not thee.

from The Hesperides & Noble Numbers (1898)

The Hesperides & Noble Numbers (1898)
by Robert Herrick

Free E-Book from Project Gutenberg


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