Carpe diem, a Latin phrase from Horace’s Odes, translates into “seize the day.” The phrase has become a common literary motif, especially in lyric poetry and in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English love poetry. The most famous poems that incorporate this motif include Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queen, Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress,” Edward Fitzgerald’s “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam,” and Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time.” Modern writers have also employed the motif, most notably Henry James in The Ambassadors and...
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