Robert Herrick

(1591-1674 / London / England)

TO THE VIRGINS, TO MAKE MUCH OF TIME


Gather ye rose-buds 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.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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  • Kay Staley (2/8/2014 2:28:00 PM)

    I first read this poem in a novel by Gilbert Morris. I didn't like the poem and didn't think about it but something about it must have understood me because after reading it once I accidentally memorized it. A few years later it is still stuck in my head and I still don't like it. The name is abominable, and I hate the idea that to use your time wisely you have to get married. It puzzles me how I memorized it after reading it once. Maybe someday I will grow to like it as much as it seems to like me. (Report) Reply

  • Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel Black (5/22/2010 4:44:00 PM)

    I first heard this poem on the movie THE DEAD POETS SOCIETY.It mostly means don't waste time being fickle about love because those young and beauty blooming years are brief..make haste..Carpe Diem.. (Report) Reply

  • Jessica Hoyle (7/19/2007 10:15:00 PM)

    The poem has the theme of Carpe Diem... Use life to the full. Eat, drink have a great time. However, due to the time frame and the values of the society, Herrick is not urgin the 'virgins' to delve in to the pleasures of life, and to lead adulterous lives, but he urging them to marry, to join in holy matromony. IN this way they are upholdind the religious and social expectations of this time frame. The whole poem states that time is passing, and the best time in which to find a mate is when you are young and desirable. Otherwise, you will tarry at your worst time- thats right, hang around unwed for you 'worser' years.
    This poem is quite short and sweet. Very simple and very easily understandable. (Report) Reply

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