Robert Herrick

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Big image


  • Born on August 24, 1591
  • Born to Nicholas and Julia Stone Herrick
  • Father died when he was 14 months old
  • Began a ten-year apprenticeship with his uncle
  • Graduated from Saint John's College
  • Became a disciple of Ben Jonson
  • Became vicar of Dean Prior in Devonshire.
  • Removed from his position in 1647
  • Died in October 1674

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Old Time is still a-flying;

And this same flower that smiles today

Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,

The higher he's a-getting

The sooner will his race be run,

And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best which is the first,

When youth and blood are warmer;

But being spent, the worse, and worst

Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,

And while ye may, go marry;

For having lost but once your prime,

You may forever tarry.

Poem Summary

The speaker is addressing this poem to a group of virgins. He's telling them that they should gather their "rosebuds" while they can, because time is quickly passing and they should seize the day.

He drives home this point with some images from nature, including flowers dying and the sun setting. The speaker uses the flower's life cycle to emphasize the shortness of human life and the passage of time. He says to collect flowers before they are yet in full bloom, because time passes so quickly that soon new flowers will be withered on the vine.

He thinks that one's youth is the best time in life, and the years after that aren't so great.

The idea of the passage of time is given a new image as the second stanza describes the movement of the sun. By casting its circuit through the sky in terms of a “race,” the sense of how quickly time passes is emphasized. The farther the sun progresses through the sky, the closer it is to setting. Likewise, the further one progresses through life (the older one gets) the closer one is to the end (death).

The speaker finishes off the poem by encouraging these young virgins to make good use of their time by getting married, before they're past their prime and lose the chance.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may (Dead poets society)

Uzair Malik 11

I Lived -one republic by Uzair Malik 11

Works Cited

Perkins, Wendy. "Critical Essay on 'To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time'." Poetry for Students. Ed. Elizabeth Thomason. Vol. 13. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Literature Resource Center. Web. 17 Feb. 2016. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.

Shmoop Editorial Team. "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time (Gather Ye Rosebuds) Summary." Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.

"The Sumarry of Robert Herrick's to the Virgins: To Make Much of Time."Scripture. N.p., 23 June 2011. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.