Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Robert Herrick's Twelfth Night: or King and Queen

photo © Mark Butkus 2014
On the Twelfth Day of Christmas.

Now, now the mirth comes
With the cake full of plums,
Where bean's the king of the sport here ;
Beside we must know,
The pea also
Must revel, as queen, in the court here.

Begin then to choose,
This night as ye use,
Who shall for the present delight here,
Be a king by the lot,
And who shall not
Be Twelfth-day queen for the night here.

Which known, let us make
Joy-sops with the cake ;
And let not a man then be seen here,
Who unurg'd will not drink
To the base from the brink
A health to the king and queen here.

Next crown a bowl full
With gentle lamb's wool :
Add sugar, nutmeg, and ginger,
With store of ale too ;
And thus ye must do
To make the wassail a swinger.

Give then to the king
And queen wassailing :
And though with ale ye be whet here,
Yet part from hence
As free from offence
As when ye innocent met here.

— Robert Herrick

Twelfth Night, the 12th day of Christmas! In Mexico and other parts of the world Twelfth Night is the day that people exchange Christmas presents. Twelfth Night also marks Christmas on the orthodox calendar.

A Cavalier poet, Robert Herrick's Twelfth Night was included in Works of Robert Herrick. vol II. published in 1891. Herrick is also known for his carpe diem philosophy to poetry.

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