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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

Time Theme

People have often seen "To the Virgins" as a poem that exemplifies carpe diem. That's Latin for "seize the day," a phrase meaning "make the most of the time you have." The poem is about making the most of one's time, but it's also about the passage of time, and the fact that as we get older we change. We become less healthy and vigorous, less "warm" (10) and, eventually, die.

Questions About Time

  1. Do you think that the speaker of this poem is young or old? What lines make you think so?
  2. Does this poem make you want to go out and seize the day? If so, what about the speaker's argument do you find convincing?
  3. Have you ever felt that there just isn't enough time to do everything you want to do?
  4. The speaker sure seems to think that youth is better than old age. Why is that? Do you agree with him?

Chew on This

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

The speaker compares people to flowers and the sun, which suggests that our time is more fleeting than we think.

"To the Virgins" suggests that old age – or whatever we choose to call the time after "youth" – is a terrible thing because one's chances of getting married (and potentially starting a family) significantly diminish.

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