The Theme of Carpe Diem in Robert Herrick's To the Virgins to Make Much of Time

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The Theme of Carpe Diem in Robert Herrick's To the Virgins to Make Much of Time

Robert Herrick's poem, "To the Virgins to Make Much of Time," focuses on the idea of carpe diem. More specifically, in this poem the idea of marriage while love and flesh are still young should be heeded or one may suffer in their later years alone and loveless. Herrick suggests that this gift of virginity might be a great waste if not given while it is still desirable. Virginity is a gift for the simple reason that it can only be given once to the taker of the prize, which he believes should be the husband. Therefore, he says to go out and find husbands, for youth is not perpetual and will eventually succumb to old age and loneliness. Through Herrick's
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As the "glorious Lamp of Heaven," the sun, is rising and is reaching it's peak. The sun is pictured as a marathon runner in line 7 with, "The sooner will his Race be run." And as with all good things in life there must be an end. The sun will then set and the youthfulness of the virgins will fade. The choice of words that Herrick uses in the second stanza such as "getting," "sooner," and "neerer" create a mood of urgency which also leads to a degree of anxiety. Time is moving on in every aspect of nature and beyond, and the virgins must come to realize that they must harness the same momentum and move into the next levels of their lives - marriage (Rollin 83).

Consistent with the idea of time being unconquerable, the third stanza agrees that youth should be made advantage of but not to be taken for granted. Herrick simply states, "That Age is best, which is the first, When youth and blood are warmer." Youth carries its own certain attractable energy that is possibly irresistible. Yet, Herrick does not want the virgins to be deceived in believing that youth will last forever. Time is personified once again as an opposition to youthfulness. In one foul swoop time overcomes youth.

The final and fourth stanza is the most direct and powerful. The young women in which the poem addresses are told not to be "coy." For their receptivity to love is under their control
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