Edward Herbert


Edward Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Chirbury (1583-1648)

Continuing with Allen’s 1980 Naropa lectures, he seems here under the impression that he’s annotating further the poems of George [sic] Herbert, These next poems , however, are, in fact, from Herbert’s older brother, Edward Herbert, himself  (amongst other achievements) an accomplished poet.

AG: So, then, there’s…in an excellent book, Minor Poets of the 17th Century, an Everyman paperback. There’s a couple of funny things, there’s the little note to Ben Jonson (since we know Jonson reasonably well),  Jonson had translated Horace and learned a good deal from the Latin – Horace – “To his friend Ben Jonson, of his Horace made English” – “Twas not enough Ben Jonson to be thought/ Of English poets best, but have brought/ In greater state, to their acquaintance, one/ So equal to himself and thee, that none/ Might be thy second, while thy glory is/To be the Horace of our times and his.” – [His translation is so good, apparently – That’s a little witty idea] –

Then, a thing on kissing which is nice – “Come hither womankind and all thy worth/ Give me thy kisses as I call them forth/Give me the billing-kiss, that of the dove,/ A kiss of love;/ The melting-kiss, a kiss that doth consume/To a perfume;/ The extract-kiss, of every sweet a part,/ A kiss of art/The kiss which ever stirs some new delight,/ A kiss of might; /The twaching smacking kiss, and when you cease/A kiss of peace;/ The music-kiss, crotchet and quaver time,/The kiss of rhyme;/The kiss of eloquence, which doth belong/Unto the tongue;/The kiss of all the sciences in one,/The Kiss alone./So ‘tis enough.”

That’s a funny one, “The twaching smacking kiss!” – And I guess, the final one, “The Kiss alone”, would probably be the fuck, or something like that – “So ‘tis enough”.

“The kiss of all the sciences in one” – billing, melting, extracting, stirring delight, twatching smacking music, eloquent and all sciences in one.

“The kiss of eloquence, which doth belong/ Unto the tongue”, I suppose would be French-kissing? – the kiss of eloquence? – something like that – He’s a funny guy, actually . If you read lots of his work, it’s actually worth checking out.

Edward Herbert – Portrait by Isaac Oliver (1560-1617

AG: Then there’s a few sonnets on black, It’s just an odd idea – to write sonnets on black. I guess he liked black girls or something like that….Then “Echo to a Rock” (So there’s a series of poems with echoes in them – three of them – and it’s sort of like a little “shortie” – short-line now reduced to little short, just a little repeat thing, sort of like a.. the gospel maybe , almost, like in a gospel song? I’ll read you little pieces of each (of the) three poems): “Melander suppos’d to love Susan, but did love Ann” – “Who doth presume my mistress’s name to scan/Goes about more than any way he can/ Since all men think that it is Susan – Echo – Ann/ What say’st? Then tell who is as white as Swan,/While others set by her are pale and wan,/Then, Echo , speak, Is it not Susan ? Echo -Ann./ Tell, Echo , yet, whose middle’s but a span,/Some being gross as bucket, round as pan;/Say, Echo , then, Is it not Susan ? Echo -Ann ./ Say, is she not soft as meal without bran,/Though yet in great hast once from me she ran/ Must I not however love Susan ? Echo – Ann.”

Then “Echo to A Rock” – “Thou heaven-threatening rock , gentler then she,!/ Since of my pain/ Thou still more sensible wilt be/ Echo -Complain./ But thou dost answer too, although in vain./Thou answer’st when thou canst no pity show/Echo-Oh/ What canst thou speak and pity too?/Yet then a further favour do/And tell if of my griefs I any end shall know/ Echo – No/ Sure she will pity him who loves her so truly./ Echo – You ly/ Vile Rock, thou now grow’st so unruly,/Thou hadst thou life as thou hast voice,/Thou shoulst die at my foot/ Echo -Dye at my foot./ Thou canst not make me do’t,/Unless thou leave it to my choice,/Who thy hard sentence can fulfill,/When thou shalt say, I dye to please her only will/Echo – I will./ When she comes hither, then, I pray thee, tell,/Thou art my Monument, and this my last farewell/ Echo – well”/

Then “Echo In A Church” – (He got on the idea, and then he went from then on, he just kept on making the words (echo) ) – “Where shall my troubled soul at large/ Discharge/The burden of her sins. oh where/ Echo – Here/ Whence comes this voice I hear?/Who doth this grace afford/If it be thou, O Lord,/ Say if thou hear my prayers when I call/ Echo – All/ And wilt thou pity grant when I do cry?/Echo – I/ Then though I fall,/Thy grace will my defects supply/But who will keep my soul from ill/Quench bad desires, reform my Will?/ Echo – I will./ O may that Will and Voice be blest/Which yields such comforts unto one distrest/ More blessed yet, wouldst thou thyself unmask,/Or tell the least who undertakes this task/ Echo – Ask/ Since now with crying I am grown so weak,/I shall want force even to crave thy name./ O speak before I wholly weary am/ Echo – I am.” – (“I am”, “I am” ..that’s a nice one .That’s like a…

These echo poems are very often found in anthologies. I’m surprised they’re not in this (one) because they’re an interesting form. And then they’re taken up any number of times. Lots of poets have worked with them. I think..well, there’s a great one which has a kind of cadence like that by (Gerard Manley) Hopkins “The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo” ,and I think (E.E.) Cummings must have some in a form like that. It’s a nice cute thing to do (because you can get a pun into it, if you want, you know) – “I call all ..cry I ..’

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately forty-three-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately forty-nine-and-three-quarter minutes in]

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