Appreciation of a favourite poem ‘To the Virgins, to make much of Time

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As a literature student, back in the university, I read several poems, of which I’ve forgotten many due to several reasons beyond my control, despite teaching English Language upon completion.

However, studying literary stylistic introduced me to this particular poem, which always motivated me with its several connotational meanings due to the words used.

And, personally, I believe this has positively affected my growth and may help you too in your life journey.

°To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time°

1. Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

2. The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

3. That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

4. Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

In the above poem, Robert Herrick, who authored the piece, used several nouns including rose-bud to tell the youth to make hey while they’ve got the opportunities.

The bud of a rose will one day grow to become a flower and soon whither, so will the youth grow old in spite of his strength today.

Time, flower, today and tomorrow suggest that situations will not remain the same, therefore, as flowers blossom and whither, so will the youth be …..check line 3 of stanza 1.

Race, which was used in line 3 of stanza 2 indicates the movement from a virgin (youthful age) to adulthood.

Verbs such as gather, may, smile, run, succeed and lost were used by the poet to express experiences in life. Note that, the word Gather which was used to begin the poem depicts that, there are several opportunities to be seized by the youth.

He also made use of literary devices including metaphor, personification, alliteration and repetition.

The word rose-bud used shows sensuality and fulfilment of earthly pleasures by the youth. The word also represents marriage as seen in line one and two of the last stanza. Marriage may not be your target but at a point in one’s life, it will become necessary since society will judge you with it as one of the requirements of a successful person.

There are also personifications like “And, the same flower that smiles today; Tomorrow will be dying.”
Herrick personifies flowers because it is human beings that smile and not flowers. He further describes the ‘Sun’ that, it is getting ‘higher’ as ‘race’ that ‘run’. Also, he personifies the sun when he says “And, nearer he’s to setting”.

The sun does not set like human beings, moreover, its shining is due to the rotation of the earth.

USE YOUR TIME AND OPPORTUNITIES VERY WELL.

By: Evans Gyamera-Antwi (@AshesGyamera on Twitter)

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