Robert Herrick: Poems

Lust and Resignation in Robert Herrick's "The Vine" College

Love is one of the most prolific topics in all of literature. From the perverse to the overly romantic, poets and authors from around the world continue to settle on love as a vehicle for relaying their innermost thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. “The Vine,” written by Robert Herrick in the 1600s is ostensibly about a man who dreams that a part of him is a vine that gropes and subdues a young maid; however, beneath the surface of this seemingly perverse affair lies a poem rich in explications on the nature of love: a concept based on mutual interest and not, as most readers will conclude, enslavement.

As if predicting potential debauched misreadings of the poem, Robert Herrick disassociates both himself and the speaker in the first two lines: “I dreamed this mortal part of mine / Was metamorphosed to a vine” (1-2). The word “dreamed” in this sense could refer to an actual dream or a more poetic sense of desire, but in either interpretation, the word showcases something that does not exist in typical aspects of reality. The use of the word “mortal” furthers this notion of literary dissonance, giving a connotation of deadliness, relentlessness, or otherworldliness, each depicting a mindset in which the “part”—both a phallus...

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