To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time


“To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” is a poem written by English Cavalier poet Robert Herrick in the 17th century. The poem is in the genre of carpe diem , Latin for seize the day. IThe Italian translation is:

Alle vergini, perché facciano buon uso del loro tempo  

Cogliete le rose finché potete,
Il Vecchio Tempo ancora vola,
E lo stesso fiore che oggi sorride,
Domani sarà morto

First published in 1648  it is perhaps one of the most famous poems to exalt the notion of carpe diem (a philosophy that recognizes the brevity of life and therefore the need to live for and in the moment). The phrase originates in Horace’s Ode 1.11.

The opening line, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may”, echoes the Latin phrase collige, virgo, rosas (“gather, girl, the roses”), which appears at the end of a attributed to Virgil. .

The first line and the theme of the poem also have echoes of a well-known couplet in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18:

“Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”

Nearly the same sense was expressed thousands of years earlier in Wisdom of Salomon  2:8, “Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither”



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