Corinna's Going A-Maying


Get up! get up for shame! the blooming morn
Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
       See how Aurora throws her fair
       Fresh-quilted colors through the air:
       Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
       The dew bespangling herb and tree.
Each flower has wept and bowed toward the east
Above an hour since, yet you not dressed;
       Nay, not so much as out of bed?
       When all the birds have matins said,
       And sung their thankful hymns, ‘tis sin,
       Nay, profanation to keep in,
Whenas a thousand virgins on this day
Spring, sooner than the lark, to fetch in May.

Rise, and put on your foliage, and be seen
To come forth, like the springtime, fresh and green,
       And sweet as Flora. Take no care
       For jewels for your gown or hair;
       Fear not; the leaves will strew
       Gems in abundance upon you;
Besides, the childhood of the day has kept,
Against you come, some orient pearls unwept;
       Come and receive them while the light
       Hangs on the dew-locks of the night,
       And Titan on the eastern hill
       Retires himself, or else stands still
Till you come forth. Wash, dress, be brief in praying:
Few beads are best when once we go a-Maying.

Come, my Corinna, come; and, coming mark
How each field turns a street, each street a park
       Made green and trimmed with trees; see how
       Devotion gives each house a bough
       Or branch: each porch, each door ere this,
       An ark, a tabernacle is,
Made up of whitethorn neatly interwove,
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
       Can such delights be in the street
       And open fields, and we not see ‘t?
       Come, we'll abroad; and let's obey
       The proclamation made for May,
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying:
But, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying.

There's not a budding boy or girl this day
But is got up and gone to bring in May;
        A deal of youth, ere this, is come
        Back, and with whitethorn laden home.
        Some have dispatched their cakes and cream
        Before that we have left to dream;
And some have wept, and wooed, and plighted troth,
And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth.
        Many a green-gown has been given,
        Many a kiss, both odd and even,
        Many a glance, too , has been sent
        From out the eye, love's firmament;
Many a jest told of the keys betraying
This night, and locks picked; yet we're not a-Maying.

Come, let us go while we are in our prime,
And take the harmless folly of the time.
        We shall grow old apace, and die
        Before we know our liberty.
        Our life is short, and our days run
        As fast away as does the sun;
And, as a vapor or a drop of rain
Once lost, can ne'er be found again;
        So when or you or I are made
        A fable, song, or fleeting shade,
        All love, all liking, all delight
        Lies drowned with us in endless night.
Then while time serves, and we are but decaying,
Come, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying.


Robert Herrick.