COMPARATIVE OF THE LIVES AND TIMES, AND POETRY OF
ROBERT HERRICK & A. E. HOUSMAN
Robert Herrick was a 17th-century English lyric poet and cleric. Born in London in 1591, he lived to the age of 83 and was buried in 1674. By age sixteen, Herrick began an apprenticeship as a goldsmith with his uncle, which ended after six years. At the age of twenty-two, Herrick attended Saint John's College, Cambridge. Between his graduation from Cambridge in 1617 and his appointment, twelve years later, as vicar of Dean Prior in Devonshire, little is known about Herrick's life.
Also hailing from England and born almost 300 years after Herrick, Alfred Edward Housman, known as A. E. Housman, was a 19th-century classical scholar and poet. Born in Fockbury, Worcestershire in 1859, he died 77 years later in 1936. Like Herrick, Housman attended one of the "Oxbridge" universities. In 1877, he attended St.
John's College in Oxford, where he received first class honors in classical moderations. For the next 11 years, Housman worked as a clerk in the Patent Office - this was not the position of a learned scholar, nor was Herrick's apprenticeship as a goldsmith. In his spare time, Housman studied the Greek and Roman classics in detail. Herrick too, was strongly influenced by the classical Roman writers, as well as the poems of the late Elizabethan era.
Herrick wrote during the reign of both King Charles I and II. Politically, this era was characterized by widespread religious wars and major reforms of state. The English Civil War between the Roundheads (supporters of Parliament) and the Cavaliers (supporters of King Charles I) caused massive political turmoil from 1642 to 1651. Although it was one of nation's most turbulent times politically, it was a rich literary period. The...