To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

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An Interpretation of Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” (1641)
In Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” there is a recurring theme of Carpe diem throughout the piece. Carpe diem means to “seize the day” or live life to the fullest. Herrick’s clever use of metaphors and personification sets the tone of the story. Life is cruel in that it gives a person so little time to be young, however, “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” encourages its reader to live the best life one can. Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” is a relatively simple poem. It consists of the narrator talking to a general group of people. It is basically a lyric poem. Lyric poetry is composed of poetry that portrays the true emotions of the poet. Robert Herrick was born in 1591 and this poem was not published until 1641. Herrick was well into his fifties at the time with an obviously strong opinion about how a person should go about living his or her life. In the first stanza Herrick says “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may” (line 1) which can mean many different things. This statement is probably referring to the rosebuds as opportunities; however they can also refer to other things like a woman’s virginity or just a youth group in general. Herrick is trying to get a message across that today we are young but tomorrow we will wilt like a rose. This keeps the overall concept of Carpe diem holding strong throughout the poem. The author is a firm believer in taking advantage of the present. His tone is demanding which allows the reader to theorize about the true meaning behind the author’s purpose for writing this piece. Throughout the poem the author is telling the “virgins” to go and live their lives by convincing them they will eventually get old and die. In the last stanza Herrick writes “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” (lines 13-16)....
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