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. It goes 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.
The glorious lamp of heaven the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And, while ye may, go marry;
For, having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

Theme: Carpe diem[edit]

Further information: 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,"[1] 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.

Popular culture[edit]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ "De rosis nascentibus" (in German), in a collection of the works of Virgil under the note Hoc carmen scripsit poeta ignotus ("An unknown poet wrote this poem").
  2. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (1941), Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ "West Wing Transcripts". 

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