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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.


To the Virgins, to Make Much of TimeEdit

Waterhouse-gather ye rosebuds-1909

"Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May" by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917), 1909. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
     Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
     To-morrow 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 for ever tarry.

Robert Herrick

Theme: Carpe diem Edit

First published in 1648 in Herrick's volume Hesperides, the poem 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.

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time00:53

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

See alsoEdit

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").

External linksEdit

Audio / video


This poem is in the public domain

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