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Themes

The speaker of "To the Virgins" doesn't say anything about marriage until the second-to-last line of the poem, where he tells the virgins to "go marry" so they don't spend their whole life being single. It turns out, in fact, that the whole poem has been about marriage. Yeah, sure, it's about making the most of one's time – about gathering those metaphorical "rosebuds" while one still can – but that turns out to mean getting married, and not going totally crazy trying to cram in all that partying while you still can.

Questions About Marriage

  1. Do people get married for the same reasons as they used to during Herrick's time (the 1600s)?
  2. How might marriage be construed as a way of making the most of one's time?
  3. Were you surprised when you got to the end of the poem and realized it was about marriage? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The poem stresses the importance of marriage and implies, with some subtlety, that marriage will somehow forestall or counteract the processes of aging and death.

The importance of marriage for sexual purposes is not entirely beyond Herrick's purview, if only because of his emphasis on heat ("warmer," "glorious lamp") and marriage in the same poem.

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