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Oberon's Feast

Robert Herrick 1591 (London) – 1674 (Dean Prior)

Hapcot! To thee the Fairy State
I with discretion, dedicate.
Because thou prizest things that are
Curious, and un-familiar.
Take first the feast; these dishes gone,
We'll see the Fairy Court anon.
A little mushroon table spread,
After short prayers, they set on bread;
A moon-parched grain of purest wheat,
With some small glit'ring grit, to eat
His choice bits with; then in a trice
They make a feast less great than nice.
But all this while his eye is serv'd,
We must not think his ear was sterv'd:
But that there was in place to stir
His spleen, the chirring grasshopper,
The merry cricket, the puling fly,
The piping gnat for minstralcy.
And now, we must imagine first,
The elves present to quench his thirst
A pure seed-pearl of infant dew,
Brought and besweetened in a blue
And pregnant violet; which done
His kitling eyes begin to run
Quite through the table, where he spies
The horns of papery butterflies,
Of which he eats, and tastes a little
Of that we call the "cuckoo's spittle."
A little fuzz-ball-pudding stands
By, yet not blessed by his hands,
That was too coarse; but then forthwith
He ventures boldly on the pith
Of sugar'd rush, and eats the sag
And well bestrutted bee's sweet bag;
Gladding his palate with some store
Of emit's eggs; what would he more?
But beards of mice, a newt's stew'd thigh,
A bloated earwig, and a fly,
With the red-capp'd worm that's shut
Within the concave of a nut,
Brown as his tooth. a little moth
Late fatten'd in a piece of cloth;
With wither'd cherries, mandrake's ears,
Mole's eyes; to these, the slain stag's tears,
The unctuous dewlaps of a snail,
The broke-heart of a nightingale
O'er-come in music; with a wine,
Ne'er ravish'd from the flattering vine,
But gently press'd from the soft side
Of the most sweet and dainty bride,
Brought in a dainty daisy, which
He fully quaffs up to bewitch
His blood to height; this done, commended
Grace by his priest, the feast is ended.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Robert Herrick

Robert Herrick was born in London, England, in 1591. He was apprenticed to a goldsmith (his uncle, Sir William), but went to Cambridge, at St John's, in 1613. He was ordained at Peterborough in 1623 and became chaplain to the Duke of Buckingham a few years later. "Hesperides" - a collection of 1200 lyrical poems - was published in 1648 and it remained his magnum opus. Herrick died in 1674, aged 83. more…

All Robert Herrick poems | Robert Herrick Books

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