Robert Herrick and the five (or six) senses
in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660

Robert Herrick's early modern English verse explores the surfaces of bodies, their sensing orifices and the liquefying experiences of sensation. Herrick, however, does imagine all five senses to enable 'physical invasion of the body'. This chapter argues that Herrick's poetics reveal that all objects act like fluids when they are seen, tasted, touched, heard or smelled, or, rather, when they are textualized or poeticized as sensible things. It is Francis Bacon's sixth sense that finally helps to explain Herrick's liquefying depictions of the five traditional senses. In Hesperides, the desire for sexual pleasure defines the experience of sensation. Herrick's poetry is both about sensation and a demonstration of the experience of sensation. Herrick's liquefying senses might make the most sense when we remember that the language of poetry is always the language of bodily sensation.

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