In writing a short piece in BDN #46 about carpe diem — “seize the day” — I hadn’t realised there is a carpe diem genre! And that one of the pin-up boys of the CDG is the poet Robert Herrick (1591-1674).
Herrick wrote more than 2,500 poems. His predominant message is that life is short, the world is beautiful, love is splendid, and we must make the most of the short time we have. One of his best-known poems is “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”, which, as BDN reader Jacquie reminded me, starts as follows:
- Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.
The poem ends with an exhortation to the virgins to marry while they are in their “prime”. See http://www.bartleby.com/101/248.html .
Interestingly, Herrick never married, and lived to the ripe old age of 83.
Jacquie also sent me a copy of John Waterhouse’s painting “Gather ye Rosebuds” (1909). Many of Waterhouse’s works are in the “Pre-Raphaelite” style. I mentioned that the two women (presumably virgins) were unwise not to be wearing something on their feet while walking among roses — and indeed probably should have been wearing gardening gloves. But Jacquie advised me that fortunately in the Pre-Raphaelite world, nobody gets hurt by thorns or prickles.
(Later addition to this post)
A reader has sent another of John Waterhouse’s paintings, this one done a year earlier than the one above. Waterhouse clearly has a thing about roses and young women, although this young woman looks (so I’m told) somewhat less virginal than the two above.