Our January poem, recorded by The Poetry Archive, is To Meadows by Robert Herrick

Robert Herrick was born in Cheapside, London in August 1591, one of seven children, whose father died when he was still a baby and his mother remained a single parent thereafter. He spent six years as an apprentice goldsmith to his uncle but left 4 years before his 10-year tenure was finished. Herrick then studied at St John’s College, Cambridge and by 1629 he could be found as the newly installed vicar of Dean Prior church in Devon. Herrick was expelled from his parish in 1647, one of 142 Devonshire clergymen whose Royalist standpoint put them at odds with the Puritan uprising. He was restored to his post during the Restoration and died in his parish in 1674 aged 83.

Herrick wrote over 2,500 works but his most well-known collection of poetry is Hesperides, published in 1648, which has many references to father figures in it. At some point Herrick himself found a mentor, and some might say, father figure in Ben Johnson, poet, dramatist and actor and Herrick would write five poems featuring Johnson.

After 1648 it appears that Herrick no longer wrote poetry after the publication of his works did not propel him into poetic fame and he died a poor country parson. His work was rediscovered in the early nineteenth century and this belated appreciation of his work means he has been in print ever since.

In that spirit, we give you, To Meadows by Robert Herrick, read by Sir Andrew Motion.

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