Robert Herrick, 1600s
To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time
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.
This is so much a poem of its time, but with a many layered message. On the one hand, this cleric/poet seemed to be encouraging young women to hurry up and marry before they lose the ‘bloom’ of youthful beauty. He celebrates youth and seems to see prime as only those immature years. He lived to the ripe age of 83, remaining a bachelor yet writing sensual poetry. I know there’s a deep story behind those bare facts. Dead Poet’s Society revealed the poem’s most important layer.
Live your life as fully as possible. Love large, write wonderful words, paint amazing pictures, carve sculptures people need to caress.
Carpe Diem…seize the day.