Upon The Losse Of His Mistresses

Robert Herrick (1648) As did most of his other best recognized poems, the sonnet titled "Upon the Losse of His Mistresses" appeared in Robert Herrick's large collection Hesperides. Herrick framed this verse in the same playful tone common in his secular poetry. While the mistresses proved pure fantasy, Herrick seems to enjoy listing "these / Many dainty Mistresses" by name. Those names include "Stately Julia," labeled "prime of all," and Sapho, termed "a principall," or a more important lover. He admires in lines 5-11 "Smooth Anthea, for a skin / White," while "Sweet Electra" is compared to "Heaven-like Chrystalline." With an admirable voice resembling the Lute, Myrha is praised, and "Next, Corinna," not only "for her wit," but for "the graceful use of it." Finally he mentions Perilla, and with her "All are gone; / Only Herrick's left alone." In his loneliness he will "number sorrow by / Their departures hence, and die." Typical of the sonnet format, the final two lines comment on the situation stated in the first 12, although Herrick broke from the serious consideration that underlies the light tone of many sonnets. Herrick wrote many highly erotic poems, such as "The Vine," and the final allusion here to death may be used as it often appeared in Renaissance writing, as a reference to a loss of ability of the male to engage in sexual intercourse due to erection failure.

"UPON THE NIPPLES OF JULIA'S BREAST" Robert Herrick (1648) Robert Herrick generally framed his erotica with playful intent, and his "upon the Nipples of Julia's Breast" proves no


exception. Julia was the ideal of woman, considered in a number of Herrick's works, including "The Night-Piece, to Julia" and the well-known "Upon Julia's Clothes." As he focuses on Julia's nipples, the speaker offers three comparisons to dramatic images contrasting red, the color of the nipple, with white, the color of the breast skin. He begins the 10-line poem with a question, "Have ye beheld (with much delight) / A redRose peeping through the white?" the first of four comparisons. While the rose traditionally represented women and sexuality, white symbolized innocence or naivete. Herrick extends the framing of each red image with that of white, suggesting an innocent voyeurism. Later lines describe "a Cherrie (double grac't) / Within a Lily," a strawberry "half drown'd in Creame," and "rich Rubies blushing through / A pure smooth Pearle, and Orient to?" Those comparisons establish through the use of nature metaphors that Julia's breast bears a natural beauty devoid of artificial ornamentation. They also offer images that tantalize and tease, with corresponding terms to describe them, such as peeping and blushing. Each item in the series seems reluctant to reveal itself, and none burst into the line of sight. Rather each appears only partially visible, the tease representing much of their attraction.

Sexual inferences abound, with the cherry representing a woman's hymen, and the lily symbolizing death, a term used in the Renaissance to mean sexual pleasure or climax. The berry in cream has specific sexual connotation relating to a woman's sex organ and the male production of semen, while the jewels suggest an exotic quality, elevating Julia's breast above that of the common woman. Herrick concludes with a final couplet, "So like to this, nay all the rest, / Is each neat Niplet of her breast." The alliteration in neat Niplet creates an auditory pleasure that supports the pleasure produced by the visual imagery. The suffix -let on the term Niplet acts as a reductive, creating an almost childish term, again equating the speaker's effort to catch sight of the nipple with innocent play. The speaker invites the audience to enjoy a simple, natural phenomenon from their observers' stance. While Herrick writes of other women, none appears in as vivid focus as Julia, who remains the most erotic object of the reader's gaze.

"UPON THE SAYING THAT MY VERSES WERE MADE BY ANOTHER" Anne Killigrew (1686) In her poem "Upon the Saying That My Verses Were Made by Another" Anne Killigrew uses a technique that became traditional for early women writers, that of defending themselves against charges of what would later be termed plagiarism. Poets including Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle, had found the need to defend the legitimacy of their writing publicly, but charges that women's poetry was not original seemed to occur more frequently later in the century. The denial by Killigrew remained necessary into the early 18th century, when a doubtful reading public, and many male poets, believed women lacked the intellect and creativity to write poetry. In five stanzas and 62 lines composed of rhyming couplets, Killgrew made her case, adopting classical allusions and a direct reference to a famous predecessor to add support.

The speaker begins with a traditional call to her muse, "O queen of verse," for inspiration. She makes clear in the opening stanza that "The Muse's laurel" proves far more valuable to her than "a crown of gold," referencing the leaves historically identified with poets. She concludes by using the term holocaust, meaning a burnt offering, vowing to her muse, "Thou shalt my pleasure, my employment be, / My all I'll make a holocaust to thee." The second stanza describes the joy the speaker feels when writing and the praise her work garnered. However, the promise of fame becomes an empty one, as Killigrew employs alliteration to call attention to the series fame, false, flattered, all related terms with negative connotations here:

What pleasing raptures filled my ravaged sense,

How strong, how sweet, fame, was thy influence!

And thine, false hope, that to my flattered sight

Did'st glories represent so near and bright!

The speaker accepts the blame for her "false hope," a result of her naive acceptance of flattery. Killigrew next refers to the myth of Apollo, Greek god of the sun and of poetry, and the nymph Daphne, adopting that tale as an extended conceit to emphasize the betrayal she felt. Daphne was forced to transform herself into a laurel tree in order to avoid Apollo's lecherous intentions, after she was lured into "rapture and delight" by the duplicitous god. Killigrew's feelings of betrayal are clear.

The speaker admits in the third stanza that her taste of fame "emboldened" her to "commit" her work into a few hands, perhaps those of friends who passed her manuscripts around. Then she adds, "But, ah, the sad effects that from it came! / What ought t' have brought me honor, brought me shame!" She then explains that to others she seemed like "Aesop's painted jay," alluding to a story in which a common jay bird donned the plumage of the beautiful peacock, inciting attack by other birds for his presumption. As the jay assuming a disguise, Killigrew was accused by some readers of falsely representing another's work as her own. They admired her poetry but "scorned" her, thinking she took the laurel wreath from "Another's brow, that had so rich a store / Of sacred wreaths that circled it before." These serious charges quite offended the innocent speaker.

In the fourth stanza the speaker references the poet and playwright Katherine Philips, known as "The Matchless Orinda," and a model for Killigrew. She makes clear that Philips had gained glory through her writing, not through any physical beauty. Her "radiant soul" caused her skin, lips, and cheeks to glow like roses and even "Advanced her height, and sparkled in her eye." Killigrew uses height metaphorically, meaning that Philips stood high in public opinion. At that time "every laurel to her laurel bowed!" and the speaker wonders why the public questions the authenticity of her work, when Philips's work did not suffer such attack.

The concluding stanza laments that the speaker must endure an "envious age," unwilling to "allow what I do write, my own," where allow means to "acknowledge." However, the speaker refuses to be silenced by false charges, as Killigrew again cites classical figures, including Phoebus, another name for Apollo. She also references Cassandra, a princess of Troy to whom Apollo granted the gift of prophecy. However, angered by her rejection of his physical advances, Apollo made all who heard Cassandra disbelieve her, although her prophecies always later proved true. Thus Killigrew skillfully returns to her previous conceit with Apollo, using it against her detractors. In line 59 she creates a caesura through insertion of a semicolon to make readers hesitate. This allows her to complete her thought regarding her numbers, or verses. Then she proceeds to dress down Phoebus in a line that runs into the next, completing her thought through the use of enjambment. She emphasizes the importance of remaining true to her art, regardless of criticism:

But let them rage, and 'gainst a maid conspire, So deathless numbers from my tuneful lyre Do ever flow; so, Phoebus, I by thee Divinely inspired and possessed may be, I willingly accept Cassandra's fate, To speak the truth, although believed too late. (57-62)

Killigrew's defense represents one of the best of its type. She maintains a strong presence throughout, and her purpose remains to let others have little doubt regarding her firm resolve. The poem stands as a counterpoint to John Dryden's famous lines in his ode to Killigrew, "Art she had none, yet wanted none; / For nature did that want supply." Killigrew's studied metaphors, careful use of format, classical allusions, and well-crafted unity of purpose could hardly have originated in "nature." They had to be, rather, the products of a learning and practice necessary to any intellectual or artistic pursuit.

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