I abhor the slimie kisse,My late father-in-law was a scholar of seventeenth-century English poetry, but in his copy of The Poetical Works of Robert Herrick (Oxford 1915), there is a question mark beside the last lines of this poem, and the words "poking-sticks" and "ruffe" are underlined. What is Herrick talking about?
(Which to me most loathsome is.)
Those lips please me which are plac't
Close, but not too strictly lac't:
Yeilding I wo'd have them; yet
Not a wimbling Tongue admit:
What sho'd poking-sticks make there,
When the ruffe is set elsewhere?
A "ruff" is a sixteenth- or seventeenth-century collar, as seen in this detail from Frans Hals' Portrait of a Man Holding a Skull (1611). The elaborate folds in the ruff were made using a special iron called a "poking-stick." In the illustration below, the tool labeled "B" is a poking-stick; the tool labeled "A" is a "goffering iron." The goffering iron is placed on a stove and heated, and the end of the poking-stick is inserted into the hollow tube at the top of the iron. This heats the poking-stick.
Herrick seems to be using the process of ironing a ruff as a metaphor for kissing with too much tongue. But the images of poking-stick, goffering iron, and ruff may suggest a metaphor for something else. Perhaps even "tongue" and "kiss" and "lips" are metaphors. After all, what does Herrick mean by "the ruffe is set elsewhere"? Indeed, there is precedent in Shakespeare (see 2 Henry IV 2.4.131: "tearing a poor whore's ruff in a bawdy-house") for "ruff" as a metaphor for vagina.
Note: "Wimbling," incidentally, means "piercing" or "penetrating;" a "wimble" is a tool for boring holes.