To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time published in 1648 in the verse collections "Hesperiods" by Robert Herrick is probably the best verse to admire the notion of the theme popularly known as Carpe diem. The motto of the Carpe diem theme is life is very short and beautiful, so one must enjoy it to the fullest now and here. This short poem catches the true sentiment of Carpe diem theme.

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Robert Herrick (1591-1674)


In this short Cavalier poem, the speaker seems to be suggesting the virgins to make the best use of the time. He is trying to convey the message of grabbing the chance, seize the day just live life before it's too late. In order to forward his argument, he gives the reference of the rosebud and the sun. He is saying: go pick rosebuds while you still can because the healthiest flower you see today may be dying by tomorrow. It is withered in no time. Likewise, the sun starts its race in the early morning, but the higher it goes, the older it becomes and it goes very close to setting. The sun loses its life and beauty in short span of time. You should seize the sun's rays and the brightness of the sun because the sun goes down.

Finally, the speaker comes to the Virgins with the argument of age. That age is best and prime which comes first. Age becomes the best only when the blood is warm. But when that age is spent age becomes worse and the worst. Therefore, he suggests the virgins to get married in time else they might tarry forever.

The rosebud in the first verse symbolizes the youthful life which is very fragile and have a short living span. Gathering the rosebuds can be seen as the imagery for the sex or the courtship when one is young. When the rose blooms with its all fragrances and beauty, it is the best time to pluck it and use it as the piece of decoration or for the fragrance it provides to us. If we don’t pluck it today, it will wither tomorrow and it dies away without any particular contributions and use. The essence of rosebud can only be felt when used. In the same manner the brightness and warmth of the sun must be felt and enjoyed when the sun is rising. If we make delay, then the sun sets and we will have to regret for the coldness and darkness after sunset. Herrick tells the readers of his poem not be so hesitant and modest, and just go out and live your life and go spend your time being merry and doing fun stuff; because if you don't, your time will be lost, and you would have wasted your youth away and you might have to wait for this happiness and fun times forever because when you get old you can't do what you could have done when you were younger.

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The speaker in this poem appears extremely positive, enthusiastic and even playful though the inevitability of death is silently praised. He encourages the maidens to get married at the right time and enjoy the life, otherwise they have to regret and the youth will never come again as we proceed towards the aging and, he indirectly admits that after aging and death, no one can enjoy this beautiful life. The speaker is encouraging us to forget about the past and the future, and live for the present.