To Anthea Who May Command Him Any Thing – Robert Herrick

I first discovered Robert Herrick (1591–1674) when I was given a volume of poetry entitled “A Treasury of the World’s Best Loved Poems” originally published in 1961.  Herrick was an English poet and clergyman and is generally considered the greatest of the Cavalier poets.  I was taken by the poem “To Anthea Who May Command Him Any Thing” below.  It struck me as having been written by a man violently and hopelessly in love.  It resonated with me deeply.  Though he was clearly a romantic, Herrick never married and died a bachelor at age 83.

 

To Anthea Who May Command Him Any Thing

by Robert Herrick

Bid me to live, and I will live
Thy Protestant to be;
Or bid me love, and I will give
A loving heart to thee.

A heart as soft, a heart as kind,
A heart as sound and free
As in the whole world thou canst find,
That heart I’ll give to thee.

Bid that heart stay, and it will stay
To honor thy decrees:
Or bid it languish quite away,
And’t shall do so for thee.

Bid me to weep, and I will weep
While I have eyes to see:
And, having none, yet I will keep
A heart to weep for thee.

Bid me despair and I’ll despair
Under that cypress-tree:
Or bid me die, and I will dare
E’en death to die for thee.

Thou art my life, my love, my heart,
The very eyes of me:
And hast command of every part
To live and die for thee.

Category: Other Poets, Robert Herrick, Romance | No comments yet


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