To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time
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"To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time" is a poem written by Robert Herrick in the 17th century. The poem is in the genre of carpe diem, Latin for seize the day. The opening stanza, one of his more famous, is as follows:
- Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
- Old Time is still a-flying;
- And this same flower that smiles today,
- Tomorrow will be dying.
Theme: Carpe diem
First published in 1648 as number 208 in a volume of verse entitled Hesperides, it is perhaps one of the most famous poems to extol the notion of carpe diem. Carpe diem expresses a philosophy that recognizes the brevity of life and therefore the need to live for and in the moment. The phrase originates in Horace's Ode 1.11.
The opening line, "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may", echoes the Latin phrase collige, virgo, rosas ("gather, girl, the roses"), which appears at the end of the poem "De rosis nascentibus," also called "Idyllium de rosis," attributed to Ausonius or Virgil.
Nearly the same sense was expressed thousands of years earlier in Wisdom of Solomon 2:8, "Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither", a verse ironically given as the example of a fool's reasoning in denying the resurrection of the dead and turning to license.
- The 1941 Oxford Dictionary of Quotations prints To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time in full.
- The line "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" was quoted by John Keating (played by Robin Williams) in the film Dead Poets Society.
- The line "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" featured in an exchange between the characters Josh Lyman and Donna Moss in the 16th episode of the first season of "The West Wing", created by Aaron Sorkin.
- The poem was featured in the 9th episode of the first season on the HBO series "The Newsroom", by Aaron Sorkin.
- The poem was featured in Robert Altman's 2006 film A Prairie Home Companion, at the conclusion of the movie.
- The themes of this poem are featured heavily in the Dream Theater progressive metal epic A Change of Seasons.
- The line "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" was quoted by Sixpence None the Richer on "Meaningless", track 7 of their 1994 album "The Fatherless and the Widow".