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To The Virgins to Make Much of Time
Transcript of To The Virgins to Make Much of Time
William Waterhouse created in 1909. * This is one of
the most popular poems
that has a carpe diem theme. Symbolism "To The Virgins, to Make Much of Time" A poetry presentation by: Rebecca Fanning * Carpe diem is a Latin phrase which means
"Seize the day" or in other words, to live life to
one's fullest extent. "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. * In fact, Herrick was one of the first poets to utilize this theme in writing. This poem was published in 1648
in his book Hesperides. (eNotes.com) * Since Herrick was appointed to the position of vicar
of Dean Prior (comparable to a priest), it is most likely that the poem could be about his regret of not
being able to marry. (eNotes.com) * This is a short lyrical poem which follows the rhyme scheme of A B A B. * There are certain words which contain many symbolic meanings within the poem. * The first important word is "rosebuds." (Herrick 1081) The rose is a very important symbol in both Pagan and Christian history. It has been associated with sexuality, the sacred feminine, and generally just all things about love. Roses have become the most popular tangible object associate with the intangible concept of love. * According to John M. Samaha, S.M., the rose is a symbol directly associated with the virgin Mary in Christianity. This can be assumed by the presence of rosaries, rose windows found in cathedrals (especially in Notre Dame cathedrals), and rose gardens dedicated to the virgin Mary. * Samaha also states that the rose is a symbol that "...also spoke of the fleetness of time." (Herrick 1081) This line really popped out at me when doing my research because it ties into the poem's carpe diem theme. (Samaha) Personification * One form of personification used is the term "old time." (Herrick 1081) This could also be described as "Father Time," the more modern name of an ancient Greek God named Chronus, a literal personification of the intangible concept of time. Both Chronus and Father Time are described to be gentle in their ways, despite their usual imagery of carrying a sickle. It seems these common symbols of "Death" were considered much later to be evil. (novareinna.com) * By saying "Old time is still a-flying" (Herrick 1081) Herrick is emphasizing that time is infinite and uncontrollable. * Another form of personification occurs in the next line: "And this same flower that smiles to-day, To-morrow will be dying." Herrick 1081) He personifies a flower as a human, living and dying, and also because he describes it as "smiling," (Herrick 1081) which is something that flowers aren't typically known for doing. *This line has more secrets than personification, it contains a figure of speech called a simile. Simile * Herrick is comparing a young virgin maiden to a flower. This could be related to the concept of a woman losing her virginity as being "deflowered." In this line he uses the simile to help the reader understand that youth can disintegrate or wither as quickly as a flower. * The entire next stanza talks about the sun. The first line of the second stanza contains a very important simile. Herrick describes the sun as "The glorious lamp of heaven." (Herrick 1081) Here we are presented with more symbolism. The word "glorious" (Herrick 1081) is the adjective form of "glory," of course which is associated with Christianity, Herrick's religion of choice. "Heaven" (Herrick 1081) is also another word associated with Christianity. 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. (Herrick 1081) * Some more special things about the sun in this stanza is that it's personified by being described as "he," (Herrick 1081) a very common personification still used today, as most people believe it is the ultimate symbol of God, or divine masculine presence. (Symbolseeker)
* It is also important to note that the cycle of life is compared to the rising and setting of the sun.
* The comparison of life to the rising and setting of the sun, and the life span of a flower, creates a tone of urgency within the poem. The tone of urgency reinforces Herrick's theme of Carpe Diem, and main idea that youth passes quickly, and should be utilized. Works Cited
Herrick, Robert. “To the Virgins to Make Much of Time” Literature, an Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. 7. X.J. Kennedy, Dana Gioia. Longman, 1999. 1081. Hardcover.
Nieves, Heriberto. "Analysis of Robert Herrick's "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time"" Analysis of Robert Herrick's "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time" N.p., 18 July 2007. Web. 19 Mar. 2013. <http://nievespoetryanalysis.blogspot.com/>.
"Old Father Time." Old Father Time. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2013. <http://www.novareinna.com/festive/oft.html>.
Samaha, John M., S.M. "The Rose: A Marian Symbol." The Rose: A Marian Symbol. Ravi Chandra Alluri, 11 Mar. 2008. Web. 19 Mar. 2013. <http://campus.udayton.edu/mary//meditations/samaha9>.
Symbolseeker. "Jive." Recent Posts. Verizon Foundation, 2 July 2012. Web. 19 Mar. 2013. <http://www.thinkfinity.org/groups/once-upon-a-time-world-of-symbols/blog/2012/07/02/the- sun-in-myth-and-symbol>.
"To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time." Enotes.com. Enotes.com, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2013. <http://www.enotes.com/virgins-make>.