Robert Herrick

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What is an analysis of the poem "To Daffodils"?

In "To Daffodils," Herrick examines the brevity of life by comparing the human lifespan, as well as the lifespans of other living things, to that of daffodils, which lasts for only hours. The fact that Herrick's father died when he was very young and that Herrick wrote other poems related to life's brevity suggests that he was preoccupied with the topic.

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The speaker in Robert Herrick's 1665 poem "To Daffodils" draws a parallel between the brief life of this spring-blooming flower and the brevity of human life.

In the first stanza, the speaker laments the ephemeral nature of the life of the daffodils, urging them to stay until the whole day has elapsed, promising that if they would, then we would "go with you along." The day is likely a metaphor for a longer life span, since the speaker observes that the flower lives only till around noon.

Moving into the second, final stanza, the speaker continues the comparison of human life and daffodils, observing that each has a short growing season; in fact, the speaker broadens the comparison to every living thing. Anything animate, he observes, grows quickly and blooms briefly, eventually succumbing to death and decay. The poem's final metaphor likens life to the transience of a "summer's rain" or "morning's dew". Each is beautiful in its own specific way, but each is also subject to vanishing, never to be seen again.

Robert Herrick's father died when the poet was still a toddler; he never knew him or had lasting memories of him. This, and the fact that Herrick wrote other poems lamenting life's brevity, such as "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time," suggest a preoccupation of the poet, for at least a period of his career, with the swift passing of time.

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