Corinna's Going a-Maying

Robert Herrick - 1591-1674
Get up, get up for shame! The blooming morn   
    Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.   
    See how Aurora throws her fair   
    Fresh-quilted colours through the air:   
    Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see          
    The dew bespangling herb and tree!   
Each flower has wept and bow'd 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,   
Whereas 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 spring-time, 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 trimm'd 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 white-thorn 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 despatch'd their cakes and cream,   
    Before that we have left to dream:   
And some have wept and woo'd, 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 the eye, love's firmament:   
Many a jest told of the keys betraying
This night, and locks pick'd: 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 vapour or a drop of rain,   
Once lost, can ne'er be found again,   
    So when or you or I are made
    A fable, song, or fleeting shade,   
    All love, all liking, all delight   
    Lies drown'd with us in endless night.   
Then, while time serves, and we are but decaying,   
Come, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying.

More by Robert Herrick

To Blossoms

Fair pledges of a fruitful tree,
   Why do ye fall so fast?
   Your date is not so past,
But you may stay yet here awhile
   To blush and gently smile,
      And go at last.
		
What, were ye born to be
   An hour or half's delight,
   And so to bid good-night?
'Twas pity Nature brought ye forth
   Merely to show your worth,
      And lose you quite.

But you are lovely leaves, where we
   May read how soon things have
   Their end, though ne'er so brave:
And after they have shown their pride
   Like you, awhile, they glide
      Into the grave.

The Argument of His Book

I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers,
Of April, May, of June, and July flowers.
I sing of Maypoles, hock carts, wassails, wakes,
Of bridegrooms, brides, and of their bridal cakes.
I write of youth, of love, and have access
By these to sing of cleanly wantonness.
I sing of dews, of rains, and, piece by piece,
Of balm, of oil, of spice, and ambergris.
I sing of times trans-shifting, and I write
How roses first came red and lilies white.
I write of groves, of twilights, and I sing
The court of Mab and of the fairy king.
I write of hell; I sing (and ever shall)
Of heaven, and hope to have it after all.

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
   Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
   Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun, 
   The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
   And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
   When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
   Times still succeed the former. 

Then be not coy, but use your time,
   And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
   You may forever tarry.