Friday, April 30, 2010

For May-Day: "Corinna's Going A-Maying" by Robert Herrick

        GET up, get up for shame! The blooming morn
        Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
        See how Aurora throws her fair
        Fresh-quilted colors through the air.
        Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
        The dew bespangling herb and tree!
        Each flower has wept and bowed 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,
        Whenas 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 springtime, 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 trimmed 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 whitethorn 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 wooed, 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 of the eye, love's firmament;
        Many a jest told of the keys betraying
        This night, and locks picked; 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 vapor or a drop of rain,
        Once lost, can ne'er be found again,
        So when you or I are made
        A fable, song, or fleeting shade,
        All love, all liking, all delight
        Lies drowned with us in endless night.
        Then, while time serves, and we are but decaying,
        Come, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying.


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