Post by firstname.lastname@example.org Post by George J. Dance Post by Rocky Post by George J. Dance
To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time, by Robert Herrick
Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.
It's one of the canonical "great poems." When I started PPB, I deliberately tried to keep those off, because they're so easily found elsewhere; now that I have a full decade of poetry on the blog, though, I think they're a good way to attract new readers.
I don't like that poem; it implies that women should make the most of their youthful beauty while they have it and marry, as if that is all they have that's worth anything.
I've been busy, of course, but besides that it took me a while to reply, because I think you're correct in your analysis. But left at that, I don't like the poem much - so let me give you an alternative interpretation. I'm sure it isn't the writer's, of course, but it may give the poem a new lease on life.
That is to imagine the poem said or thought by a 'speaker' and imagine it from that angle. I imagine a big spender at a bar or club, probably a bestselling poet, songster, or even rapper, reciting it to the gold-diggers gathered round him. The theme: he's a horny guy, he wants That Thing, and he's sweet-talking a lady to get it.
As such, it's a commentary on my sex, and what pigs we can be, always thinking of That Thing. But it's true enough, if exaggerated for effect, that we do keep thinking about it. I'd call it "horny guy" poetry and encourage you to see in in that genre.
Once you do recognize the genre, you'll spot it everywhere, through the centuries and in at least 6 of the 7 ages of man - from Philip Sidney's frustrated teen in "Philomela" -
- to Yeats' old Senator with the roving eye and mind in "Politics" -
All 3 excellent poems, all of which I'd hate to see consigned to the dustbin of history by changing attitudes. Which is why I'd encourage looking at them from the "horny guy" perspective.
Post by email@example.com
Carpe diem is good advice, but I prefer "make hay while the sun shines" to "gather ye rosebuds while ye may."