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To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

by Robert Herrick

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What does Herrick's "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time" joyfully describe?

Quick answer:

In "To The Virgins, to Make Much of Time," Robert Herrick describes being young, but does so with a mixture of joy and sorrow.

Expert Answers

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The best of the four suggested answers here is that in "To The Virgins, to Make Much of Time," Robert Herrick joyfully describes staying young. Herrick does also write about growing old in the poem, but his attitude is not joyful.

While the first option is the best of the four answers suggested, it is not quite correct. In the first place, one might argue that Herrick's tone is not exactly joyful. This poem belongs to a genre sometimes called the "carpe diem" poem, in which the addressee is exhorted to make the most of youth, since it will not last long. The tone is one of joy and sorrow mixed, since the message is that the joys of youth will soon be over.

The second, related point is that Herrick is not talking about staying young, but about being young. Any "carpe diem" poem carries the message that one does not stay young for very long, which is why it is so important to enjoy life while you can. The initial images of flowers and sunlight in the first two stanzas emphasize the point that both youth and life are transient.

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