Carpe Diem

Topics: Carpe diem, To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time, Sun Pages: 4 (1016 words) Published: April 28, 2011
Carpe Diem

A carpe diem song or poem is commonly interpreted as “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”. A carpe diem usually involves talking to a lover, persuading a lover to yield, and it reflects an epicurean worldview that life is short, that there is no punishment in the afterlife, and that one should not worry about the punishment or reputation. Above all the poet, in a desperate effort to persuade his lover to yield, offering that the opportunity is now. Poems or songs reflecting the carpe diem theme tend to focus on youth. Both Robert Herrick’s poem “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” and Catullus’s “Vivamus et Amemus” reflect the key characteristics of this specific genre. Catullus makes his appeal in the first three lines of the poem by saying “Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus, rumoresque senum severiorum omnes unius aestimemus assis!” translated as “Let us live my Lesbia, let us love and let us value all the rumors of the old men to be worth just one penny!”. Catullus strengthens his argument of a love life by using metaphors and vague descriptions. The metaphors he uses in lines 4-6 strengthen his appeal by describing why they must cherish their love without worrying about what others think. In line 5 when Catullus says “when that brief light has fallen for us” he uses this as a metaphor for the short amount of time the lovers have to live. Catullus is trying to convince Lesbia to come to him because they live only for a short time and they must love. Catullus strengthens his appeal further by saying “we must sleep a never ending night”. He makes this appeal even stronger by putting an elision between “perpetua” and “una”. To strengthen his appeal he describes how many kisses he wants in lines 7-9. He is able to confuse the reader and his lover, Lesbia, by asking for “hundreds” and “thousands” of “kisses”. Through repetition of mille, centum, dein, deinde, and altera Catullus is able to convey to Lesbia to not look, but to...
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