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Featured Poem: Corinna’s Going A-Maying by Robert Herrick

Written by Rachael Norris, 12th April 2021

Today's Featured Poem is brought to us by Head of Teaching and Learning, Dr. Clare Ellis. As April is both #NationalPoetryMonth and #StressAwarenessMonth, the readings we have chosen to share this month all meet the theme of 'balm for the soul'. We hope you'll think about sharing this poem with someone who might need it today. 

Looking for some inspiration for this week's Featured Poem I picked up the latest edition of The Reader magazine, Issue 73, March 2021. The opening poem immediately invites me in and brings a smile, Corinna’s Going A-Maying by Robert Herrick.


Get up, get up for shame, the Blooming Morne

Upon her wings presents the god unshorne.

See how Aurora throwes her faire

Fresh-quilted colours through the aire:

Get up, sweet-Slug-a-bed, and see

The Dew-bespangling Herbe and Tree.

Each Flower has wept, and bow'd toward the East,

Above an houre since; yet you not drest,

Nay! not so much as out of bed?

When all the Birds have Mattens seyd,

And sung their thankful Hymnes: 'tis sin,

Nay, profanation to keep in,

When as a thousand Virgins on this day,

Spring, sooner than the Lark, to fetch in May.

Now, I have never read this poem before. I have no idea who Corinna is, nor do I know what it is to be ‘Going A-Maying’, but I know that I instinctively enjoy the sound of both and would like to be involved somehow, to join the party so to speak!

And as I read through the first stanza, the feeling that fills me is one unabashed exuberant celebration of being alive! Now, many of us can find mornings difficult and may not want to ‘Get up, get up’ however bright the sun shines outside of our windows. Indeed, some of us may be tempted to tell Robert Herrick to be quiet and leave the room. But for me, this morning, sleepy one that I am, when reading aloud this opening stanza, I am left with a feeling of wanting to ‘shout it from the rooftops’ (forgive the cliché) and send Herrick’s joyful exhortation to enter into the living Spring of life to all I love and know.

The world is beautiful and at this time of year preparing itself for shedding an abundance of verdant riches:

See how Aurora throwes her faire

Fresh-quilted colours through the aire:

Get up, sweet-Slug-a-bed, and see

The Dew-bespangling Herbe and Tree.

Now, who would not to tempted to rise if teased to be a ‘sweet-Slug-a-bed’ I ask you?

All is alive outside, and unapologetically so as something called Aurora, which I take to be perhaps a reference to light, to the sun, actually ‘throwes her fair/ Fresh-quilted colours through the aire’. No scrimping or saving here, or sense of restraint. It is like one of those morning skies awash with colour and light, they make you pause and look up, but you need first to be awake and outside to see them, to be part of it.

So, while it is understandable that all of us may feel like ‘sweet-Slugs-a-bed’ at times, welcome this Spring into our hearts by reading aloud with me these lines! I promise you won’t regret it!


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