Corinna's Going A-Maying
Mistresses, Country Life
For a dude who wrote over 2500 poems, from "The Bride-Cake" to "Ill Government," it's hard to boil things down to a single calling card. This guy was diverse. However, Herrick's most famous poems tend to revolve around a few key themes: the hotness of women and the joys and boredom of country life.
In his many poems written to named women (think Corinna, Julia, etc.), Herrick dishes about physical beauty, sexy fun, and the importance of seizing both before you're dead and gone. Sound familiar? "Corinna's Going A-Maying" fits right in with this erotic carpe diem theme. "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time" is another famous one.
Herrick loved him some ladies, no question. But his attitude towards the countryside was a little more ambivalent. In 1630 he was assigned to the Dean Prior vicarage, located way out in the boonies of rural Devonshire. For a man used to the artsy buzz of London, this was a huge and sometimes unwelcome change. Just check out "To Dean Bourne," where he calls the locals as "churlish as the seas, / and rude almost as rudest savages."
But in other poems, like "Corinna," he's the countryside's loudest cheerleader. These pastoral poems are lovingly anti-urban, promoting rustic traditions instead of all that modern London stuff. Looks like life in Devonshire wasn't all bad.