(To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time)
By Robert Herrick (1591 – 1674)
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles today,
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.
The writer chooses springtime, to remind us that time is short, fleeting & what is beautiful today, may be dead by tomorrow. Herrick follows the theme of carpe diem (seize the day) which was a popular trend for peots at the time.
The sun will rise and fall just as fast regardless of if you take your chances or not, and time/life will quickly pass by. Life is best lived when one is young because once youth is past, it can’t be regained. We’re collectively urged not to be coy but take our chances while we can!
Traditionally, the poem has also provided a persuasive argument for those making marriage proposals and other life-changing suggestions. So today, gather your roses while you can. Look back and think of what you want to be know for, or be known as…then embark on your journey today. Gather your roses while you may, for tomorrow may just be too late!