by Robert Herrick

SO soft streams meet, so springs with gladder smiles
Meet after long divorcement by the isles ;
When love, the child of likeness, urgeth on
Their crystal natures to a union :
So meet stolen kisses, when the moonoy nights
Call forth fierce lovers to their wish'd delights ;
So kings and queens, meet when desire convinces
All thoughts but such as aim at getting princes,
As I meet thee.   Soul of my life and fame !
Eternal lamp of love ! whose radiant flame
Out-glares the heaven's Osiris,* and thy gleams
Out-shine the splendour of his mid-day beams.
Welcome, O welcome, my illustrious spouse ;
Welcome as are the ends unto my vows ;
Aye ! far more welcome than the happy soil
The sea-scourged merchant, after all his toil,
Salutes with tears of joy ; when fires betray
The smoky chimneys of his Ithaca.
Where hast thou been so long from my embraces,
Poor pitied exile ?   Tell me, did thy graces
Fly discontented hence, and for a time
Did rather choose to bless another clime ?
Or went'st thou to this end, the more to move me,
By thy short absence, to desire and love thee ?
Why frowns my sweet ?   Why won't my saint confer
Favours on me, her fierce idolater ?
Why are those looks, those looks the which have been
Time-past so fragrant, sickly now drawn in
Like a dull twilight ?   Tell me, and the fault
I'll expiate with suplhur, hair and salt ;
And, with the crystal humour of the spring,
Purge hence the guilt and kill this quarrelling.
Wo't thou not smile or tell me what's amiss ?
Have I been cold to hug thee, too remiss,
Too temp'rate in embracing ?   Tell me, has desire
To thee-ward died i' th' embers, and no fire
Left in this rak'd-up ash-heap as a mark
To testify the glowing of a spark ?
Have I divorc'd thee only to combine
In hot adult'ry with another wine ?
True, I confess I left thee, and appeal
'Twas done by me more to confirm my zeal
And double my affection on thee, as do those
Whose love grows more inflam'd by being foes.
But to forsake thee ever, could there be
A thought of such-like possibility ?
When thou thyself dar'st say thy isles shall lack
Grapes before Herrick leaves canary sack,
Thou mak'st me airy, active to be borne,
Like Iphiclus, upon the tops of corn.
Thou mak'st me nimble, as the winged hours,
To dance and caper on the heads of flowers,
And ride the sunbeams.   Can there be a thing
Under the heavenly Isis * that can bring
More love unto my life, or can present
My genius with a fuller blandishment ?
Illustrious idol ! could th' Egyptians seek
Help from the garlic, onion, and the leek
And pay no vows to thee, who wast their best
God, and far more transcendent than the rest ?
Had Cassius, that weak water-drinker, known
Thee in thy vine, or had but tasted one
Small chalice of thy frantic liquor, he,
As the wise Cato, had approv'd of thee.
Had not Jove's son, * that brave Tirynthian swain,
Invited to the Thesbian banquet, ta'en
Full goblets of thy gen'rous blood, his sprite
Ne'er had kept heat for fifty maids that night.
Come, come and kiss me ; kiss, we will be friends
Too strong for fate to break us.   Look upon
Me with that full pride of complexion
As queens meet queens, or come thou unto me
As Cleopatra came to Anthony,
When her high carriage did at once present
To the triumvir love and wonderment.
Sweel up my nerves with spirit ; let my blood
Run through my veins like to a hasty flood.
Fill each part full of fire, active to do
What thy commanding soul shall put it to ;
And till I turn apostate to thy love,
Which here I vow to serve, do not remove
Thy fires from me, but Apollo's curse
Blast these-like actions, or a thing that's worse,
When these circumstants shall but live to see
The time that I prevaricate from thee.
Call me the son of beer, and then confine
Me to the tap, the toast, the turf ; let wine
Ne'er shine upon me ; may my numbers all
Run to a sudden death and funeral.
And last, when thee, dear spouse, I disavow,
Ne'er may prophetic Daphne crown my brow.

  Frans Hals.  The Merry Drinker. 1627.
Frans Hals. The Merry Drinker. 1627.

   Convinces, overcomes.
* The sun.   (Note in the original edition.)
   Ithaca, the home of the wanderer Ulysses.
   Iphiclus won the foot-race at the funeral games of Pelias.
* The moon.   (Note in the original edition.)
* Hercules.   (Note in the original edition.)
   Circumstants, surroundings.

Herrick, Robert. Works of Robert Herrick. vol I.
Alfred Pollard, ed.
London, Lawrence & Bullen, 1891. 93-97.

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