RobertHerrick and the five (or six) senses
Natalie K. Eschenbaum
When you descend to the lower level of the Art Museum of New South Wales,
you are greeted with an intense, pungent, but welcoming aroma. Cinnamon,
cardamom and cloves – the same spices that lured English Renaissance traders
to India – draw you into a room that houses Ernesto Neto’s installation, Just
Like Drops in Time, Nothing.1 Dozens of massive semi-transparent tubes of
stocking-like fabric hang from the ceiling, weighted down by hundreds of
pounds of ground spices. As Neto’s title prompts
This book attempts to interrogate the literary, artistic and cultural output of early modern England. Following Constance Classen's view that understandings of the senses, and sensory experience itself, are culturally and historically contingent; it explores the culturally specific role of the senses in textual and aesthetic encounters in England. The book follows Joachim-Ernst Berendt's call for 'a democracy of the senses' in preference to the various sensory hierarchies that have often shaped theory and criticism. It argues that the playhouse itself challenged its audiences' reliance on the evidence of their own eyes, teaching early modern playgoers how to see and how to interpret the validity of the visual. The book offers an essay on each of the five senses, beginning and ending with two senses, taste and smell, that are often overlooked in studies of early modern culture. It investigates Robert Herrick's accounts in Hesperides of how the senses function during sexual pleasure and contact. The book also explores sensory experiences, interrogating textual accounts of the senses at night in writings from the English Renaissance. It offers a picture of early modern thought in which sensory encounters are unstable, suggesting ways in which the senses are influenced by the contexts in which they are experienced: at night, in states of sexual excitement, or even when melancholic. The book looks at the works of art themselves and considers the significance of the senses for early modern subjects attending a play, regarding a painting, and reading a printed volume.
Medea and the poetics of fratricide in early modern English literature
In the poetic collection
Hesperides (1648), RobertHerrick includes the brief verse
‘To his booke’, in which he addresses his own literary
creation, and reflects on its potentially unhappy afterlife in the hands
of readers and critics:
If hap it must, that I must see thee
lye Absyrtus-like all
court life; instead, relative tranquillity dominates life. Storms may shake the forests but wars are never known. Those in rural England are relatively poor compared to their counterparts in the city, but they can enjoy the richness of the azure skies, and, when people go fishing, there is an equality that really matters.
RobertHerrick (1591–1674), another writer with obvious Royalist sympathies, represents an idealized English society in similar ways to Walton.
Herrick deliberately parodies the
This book explores the intimate relationship between literature and class in England (and later Britain) from the Peasants’ Revolt at the end of the fourteenth century to the impact of the French Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century and beginning of the nineteenth. It demonstrates how literary texts are determined by class relations and how they represent the interaction of classes in profound and apparently trivial ways. The book argues throughout that class cannot be seen as a modern phenomenon that occurred after the Industrial Revolution but that class divisions and relations have always structured societies and that it makes sense to assume a historical continuity. The book explores a number of themes relating to class: class consciousness; class conflict; commercialization; servitude; the relationship between agrarian and urban society; rebellion; gender relations; and colonization. After outlining the history of class relations in England and, after the union of 1707, Scotland, five chapters explore the ways in which social class consciously and unconsciously influenced a series of writers including Geoffrey Chaucer, William Langland, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, John Taylor, Robert Herrick, Aphra Behn, John Wilmot, earl of Rochester, Daniel Defoe, Stephen Duck, Mary Collier, Frances Burney, Robert Burns, William Blake and William Wordsworth. The book concludes with Percy Bysshe Shelley’s An Address to the Irish People (1812), pointing to the need to explore class relations in the context of the British Isles and Ireland, as well as the British Empire, which a future work will analyse.
, is discussed in this collection by
Natalie Eschenbaum in her chapter on RobertHerrick. Herrick suggests that
‘to sensually engage with things or people is usually to infuse with them, to
melt into them, to liquefy’ (p. 115); here the double nature of the senses seems
to be invoked deliberately by Herrick in order to express the nature of desire.
Equally, the process of sense perception is bound up with the humoral condition of an individual subject. Some of the chapters in this volume are right,
he could combine the
two, much as John Hall, George Herbert, and RobertHerrick did. In terms of
documentary records, we know very little, but the little we do know points to
his connections with London clergymen. Spenser's name, for example, does not
appear in the admission records of Merchant Taylors’ School. As I discuss in Chapter 1 , ‘Lineage and the
“Nowell Account Book”’, we know that he attended this school
only because he was the
Ralph Knevet's Supplement of the Faery Queene (1635) is a narrative and allegorical work, which weaves together a complex collection of tales and episodes, featuring knights, ladies, sorcerers, monsters, vertiginous fortresses and deadly battles – a chivalric romp in Spenser's cod medieval style. The poem shadows recent English history, and the major military and political events of the Thirty Years War. But the Supplement is also an ambitiously intertextual poem, weaving together materials from mythic, literary, historical, scientific, theological, and many other kinds of written sources. Its encyclopaedic ambitions combine with Knevet's historical focus to produce an allegorical epic poem of considerable interest and power. This new edition of Knevet's Supplement, the first scholarly text of the poem ever published, situates it in its literary, historical, biographical, and intellectual contexts. An extensive introduction and copious critical commentary, positioned at the back of the book, will enable students and scholars alike to access Knevet's complicated and enigmatic meanings, structures, and allusions.
William Douglas’ funeral elegy on the Second Earl of Lothian
elegies are nearly silent on those who took their own lives. 1 A rare exception is
RobertHerrick’s poem, ‘To the
reverend shade of his religious Father’, in which the poet
apologizes that it has taken thirty-five years (‘seven
Lusters ’) for him to offer appropriate
Purification, candles, and the Inviolata as music for churching
Jane D. Hatter
In some literature, including the poem by
RobertHerrick quoted in footnote 35 below, it is viewed as
another wedding night.
Paula Rieder, On the purification of women:
churching in northern France, 1100–1500
(New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006