Carpe Diem Poetry
“To The Virgins, To Make Much of Time” by Robert Herrick and “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell are two great examples of Carpe Diem poetry. Their vivid imagery, symbolism, and usage of simile and metaphor are what make these poems memorable. Their usage of these terms also makes the poems more inviting and makes the usage of the Carpe Diem tradition more apparent. Likely risqué for their times, I find both poems somewhat romantic and tame for our time period.
The primary metaphor of “To The Virgins, To Make Much Of Time” is “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a-flying; and this same flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying”(961). This opening metaphor makes it clear that the theme of this poem is Carpe Diem. From my understanding and also from my introductory Latin class Carpe Diem is popularly known as “Seize the Day” though this is not the literal translation. Roses are fresh and supple like youth; they are fragile, beautiful, and pure. These are characteristics also associated with virgins. I have found in many literary works that virginity is compared to a rose. Herrick is urging the young to enjoy their youth before it evades them. “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” is another metaphor using the personification of the sun to show the passage of time (916). The sun is an example of life; the more time that passes, or the rather the farther the race is run, is the closer life is to come to an end or the closer to the sun setting. The sun and it’s rising and setting is something that is very commonly used on obituaries to mark the birth and death of a person. “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” (916). The previous passage is the speaker saying that everything is better when you are young....
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