This weekend I have been reading Louise Wener’s Britpop memoir Different for Girls (review at 3:AM) and a Robert Herrick collection. In his introduction to the latter, Douglas Brooks-Davies portrays Herrick as a gregarious, hard-drinking priest, his sensual style well out of step in seventeenth-century Puritan England. I was struck by the closing lines of ‘To His Saviour’s Sepulchre: His Devotion’: to me, this is a courageous attempt at getting a handle on death, and being able to die without fear despite the possibility that there is nothing after death. It makes me think of falling into a happy sleep after two hundred pages of a novel and a full bottle of red wine.
Ravish’d I am! and down I lie
Confused in this brave ecstasy.
Here let me rest; and let me have
This for my heaven that was Thy grave:
And, coveting no higher sphere,
I’ll my eternity spend here.