This line is a comparison Herrick makes between nature and people, the sun rises into the sky and slowly gets brighter, then hits its peak and gets less bright until it is gone just as life is for an individual. This part of the poem follows the theme that people are a lot like the natural world in that they have their prime where they are beautiful and they have the eventual declining of their beauty.
Poetry Out Loud
He is saying here that being young and full of life is the best time of your life. The fourth and final stanza follows the theme of carpe diem by stating that while you are young you cannot be shy and you should find a loved one to marry. This applies to this section of the poem because he says to go out and find a woman to marry, then time is unforgiving and it will eventually catch up. Each of the stanzas in this poem are all based on the same main ideals—to make the most of life every day because just as soon as it comes, it could all be gone.
Stewart, William, and Steven Barfield. British and Irish Poets: a Biographical Dictionary, McFarland and Company, Gregerson, L. Landrum, D. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account.
The obscure history of the 'virgin's disease' that could be cured with sex
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Share this: Twitter Facebook. Like this: Like Loading Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:. Email required Address never made public. Name required. Post to Cancel. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. However, in the final two lines of the stanza, the speaker introduces an unusually ironic and decidedly unromantic twist to the notion of pursuing love by suggesting that love is not a means by which one can escape death.
Rather, the realist suggests that love must be pursued as it plays a role in life. The final stanza of the poem unites the natural cycles of life and death with the rites and ceremonies of Christian worship, thereby introducing a unique element to the carpe diem poem. Age is commonly regarded as a bringer of wisdom, a notion with which Herrick would most likely agree. What one gains in wisdom, however, is countered by what one loses in terms of physical attractiveness. Whereas other rosebuds will bloom and other days will dawn, physical beauty is not everlasting.
The poem ends with a reiteration of the importance of physical beauty for those coy virgins who have yet to marry.
More by The Virgins
Thus, the speaker, through his offer of an ironic possibility, attempts to frighten the virgins into considering the ephemeral nature of the beauty, which they presumably and wrongfully regard as fixed and eternal. Each stanza is composed of a single sentence. The poem employs end rhymes, the rhyming pattern being abab, cdcd, efef, ghgh. In this poem, Herrick favors the trochaic foot, a unit of two syllables in which the first syllable is stressed and the second is unstressed. Scanning the first line of the poem, written in tetrameter form, reveals the dominance of this unit:.
Trochaic feet are often difficult to use in a long poem as they tend to create a rocking rhythm. Although a reader of his poetry may not suspect it, the world in which Herrick lived and wrote was one marked, in great part, by the chaos of war. Today: The English monarch is a figurehead with no true legal authority; instead, the houses of Parliament are responsible for all legislation and the governing of the nation. Today: The English theater is regarded as one of the most influential and important in the world. Today: The use of nature in British poetry is commonplace; twentieth-century poets such as D.
Lawrence, Dylan Thomas , Ted Hughes , and Seamus Heaney have all written poems that employ natural symbols and metaphors for the human condition. In , King Charles I attempted to legally force the Scots to adopt the Anglican liturgy in place of their favored Presbyterian one. The Scots, understandably outraged, protested and eventually gathered an army that, by , was bordering the northern counties of England. Refusing to back down, Charles I summoned the Long Parliament and petitioned them for money with which he could finance a war against the Scots; the Long Parliament agreed but insisted on a number of reforms in what the Puritans among them saw as a corrupted monarchy.
During the years and battles that followed, one Parliamentary soldier emerged as a fierce enemy and master tactician: Oliver Cromwell. Although tensions still existed between different religious sects and the English still argued over exactly how much power the king should have at his disposal, most agreed that the restoration of the monarchy was essential to ensure that the nation did not continue its era of unrest. Charles II reigned until his death in Much of the poetry that sprung from the seventeenth century can be classified as belonging to one of two genres: Metaphysical or Cavalier.
Metaphysical poetry is, naturally, dense and challenging, offering its readers intense and sometimes almost scientific examinations of abstract topics. Although cavalier poetry may strike a modern reader as less important than that produced by the metaphysicals, the cavalier poets are notable for their ability to handle complex issues in a deft and succinct manner.
In his book Poetry and the Fountain of Light , H. Rather, it mediates between the two. The image the poem develops, of virgins seeking pleasurable experiences, does not lead one to expect the pious advice to marry at the end of the poem. This unexpected advice, Arms argues, both shocks and delights the reader. Pagan imagery, Karl P. For instance, the rosebud image is linked to Dionysus, the god of wine and vegetation, who also represents fertility and life.
This allusion and the classic carpe diem notion suggest a pagan or non-Christian order or belief system. Yet the poem clearly ends with an exhortation to marry. Those who disregard the Christian ethics, which locates passion within marriage, are the foolish virgins who clearly stand outside the Christian order. Moran is an educator specializing in British and American literature. Although William Wordsworth is universally acknowledged as the foremost British poet of nature with Robert Frost serving as his American counterpart , Robert Herrick certainly stands as an earlier poet who employed nature to meet his artistic ends.
Both senses are meant here, since, on the surface, the poem urges these girls to marry—but also urges them to recognize the unstoppable force of time. As previously mentioned, Herrick looks to the natural world for a host of symbols that allow him to effectively make his case to his virgin readers. However, such a remark also suggests that human life is a gradual frost, a dropping of bodily temperature and emotional excitement that ultimately results in death, when a person is, quite literally, physically and emotionally cold. Beauty may be what initially brings two people together and beauty will indeed fade—but, with any luck, the marriage will not, and if the speaker feels the need to resort to language more direct than that of his opening stanzas, surely he is doing so to make what he sees as an important point.
Ketteler has taught literature and composition. In this essay, she focuses on the way Herrick uses the carpe diem theme and how this traditional literary motif is influenced by gender considerations. Herrick is not alone in his use of this literary motif; in fact, many seventeenth-century English poets embraced the idea of carpe diem,.
It rolls off the tongue, so to speak, with regular rhyme and meter, almost in a singsong way. But embedded in the poem are more serious themes—such as death and decay, the fleeting nature of youth, and sexuality—which seem to be contrary to the simplistic nature of the form. The seventeenth century was a tumultuous time in England, with a civil war that overthrew the monarchy and then a restoration that placed the monarchy back in power.
Herrick and the Cavaliers were known for writing lyrical love poems.
At the same time, he is sensitive to the natural rhythms and rituals of the earth. Embracing the moment means embracing both Christian and Pagan rituals. Herrick often brings together two disparate ideas or themes in interesting ways—a literary practice that is peppered throughout seventeenth-century poetry. In other words, experience is too multidimensional to present in a straightforward, one-dimensional manner; life is full of dilemmas and paradoxes; even the way people think is associative—one thing reminds them of another, or one thing depends upon another.
In short, life is becoming more complicated in the seventeenth century, and literature is reflecting the modernization of the world. Herrick has his own kind of wit, not so much in that he practices literary ingenuity, weaving seemingly unconnected metaphors together to shock or surprise the reader; rather, his wit comes from his ability to use a lighthearted, conventional, lyric style—one seemingly more suited for love poems—to address the paradoxes of life, and especially, the paradox of womanhood.
Immediately, the reader feels a sense of urgency in the first stanza of the poem.
The speaker directs the women to gather rosebuds, symbolic of beauty, love, and newness. Unlike the opportunity for gathering rosebuds—which will soon vanish—time knows no limits; it keeps moving forward as it always has and always will.
187. ROBERT HERRICK: To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time
Herrick is laying out the cycle of life, with the express purpose to show that death is part of the cycle of life. The flower almost takes on human characteristics, which connect humanity to the cycle of life and death. People are part of nature, and every minute that they live, they are one minute closer to dying. The second stanza continues with the natural cycle motif, bringing in the sun. Like time, the sun has an ancient quality—it is dependable, and it is the way in which time is measured.
He connects the cycles of the sun to Christianity: the sun is not the lamp of the sky but the lamp of heaven. The third stanza further spells out the paradox of youth. Indeed, time is traded for experience; but once it is gone, it can never be regained. In the popular imagination, a woman must maintain her beauty and her innocence and virtue to attract a man. Unless she is of a prominent family and class, the seventeenth-century woman has limited opportunities.
Whether Herrick wanted to debate the politics of gender is in itself a debate. Instructing women to seize the day by marrying while they are young and beautiful lest they become bitter spinsters seems quite problematic for the twenty-first-century reader. Whereas other seventeenth-century poets, such as John Donne and Andrew Marvell, have no problem directly addressing sexuality outside of marriage, Herrick seems to differ from them on this point.
The title, for example, encourages virgins to make much of time; why not to make much of life? Why not pursue dreams, liberate oneself on other fronts?