At least thirty of the epigrams that comprise Robert Herrick’s Hesperides: or, The Works both Humane & Divine (1648) are known to have been based on John Gregory’s Notes and Observations (1646). Having been pieced together out of Gregory’s prose, and lacking in any divine inspiration, these poems—or paraphrases—are reviled in criticism. Moving beyond the particular esthetic judgment, however, a comparison of Herrick’s Gregory-poems with their prose source allows readers to identify what decisions he made when crafting a line of verse. In particular, these poems reveal how Herrick manipulated a line semantically and metrically to make poetry from prose. It is true that few readers will be thrilled by Herrick’s paraphrases, but as a poetry of process, they are evidence of the mechanical act of writing, and their study forces into view Herrick’s activity as a poet.

You do not currently have access to this content.