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To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time (Gather ye rosebuds)

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time (Gather ye rosebuds)

by Robert Herrick

Marriage Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, (1)

The "rosebuds" refer to marriage; a "bud" usually means an unripe flower, or one that hasn't fully matured yet. Is the speaker encouraging the virgins to get married before they're ready? Or is the potential fertility of the bud (a new flower and leaves will emerge from it) meant to emphasize the procreative (child-producing) aspect of marriage?

Quote #2

Tomorrow will be dying. (4)

We realize by the end of the poem that the speaker has been encouraging the virgins to get married. "Dying," which, in the Renaissance could refer to an orgasm, here perhaps anticipates the explicit mention of marriage in the last stanza. It suggests sexual intercourse, which in turn suggests marriage – at least in a relatively pious poem like this one.

Quote #3

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry: (13-14)

It's hard not to hear the word "merry" (as in happy) in "marry." The potential wordplay here might suggest a close association between happiness and marriage, as if to "marry" makes one "merry." "Marry" sounds kind of awkward, though, and it's also possible that the speaker wants us to just hear "merry." Could the speaker craftily be advocating for the opposite of marriage: a life of carefree, unattached fun?

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