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One of that collection’s best-known works, for example, is “To the reverend shade of his religious Father,” in which Herrick resurrects his father by eternizing him in poetry: “For my life mortall, Rise from out thy Herse, / And take a life immortal from my Verse.”By age sixteen Herrick was apprenticed to his uncle, but apparently found either Sir William Herrick or the goldsmith trade incompatible, for the ten-year apprenticeship was terminated after six years.
Almost forgotten in the eighteenth century, and in the nineteenth century alternately applauded for his poetry’s lyricism and condemned for its “obscenities,” Robert Herrick is, in the latter half of the twentieth century, finally becoming recognized as one of the most accomplished nondramatic poets of his age.
Long dismissed as merely a “minor poet” and, as a consequence, neglected or underestimated by scholars and critics, the achievement represented by his only book, the collection of poems entitled Hesperides: Or, The Works Both Humane & Divine (1648), is gradually coming to be more fully appreciated.
Of its 366 poems, the vast majority are in sonnet form (317), though the sequence contains a number of canzoni (29), sestine (9), madrigals (4), and ballate (7).
Its central theme is the poet's love for Laura, a woman Petrarch allegedly met on April 6, 1327, in the Church of Sainte Claire in Avignon.