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To his conscience

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



Can I not sin, but thou wilt be
My private protonotary?
Can I not woo thee, to pass by
A short and sweet iniquity?
I'll cast a mist and cloud upon
My delicate transgression,
So utter dark, as that no eye
Shall see the hugg'd impiety.
Gifts blind the wise, and bribes do please
And wind all other witnesses;
And wilt not thou with gold be tied,
To lay thy pen and ink aside,
That in the mirk and tongueless night,
Wanton I may, and thou not write?
--It will not be: And therefore, now,
For times to come, I'll make this vow;
From aberrations to live free:
So I'll not fear the judge, or thee.

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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…

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