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Gather ye rosebuds while ye may…

Variation of first line of a poem by Robert Herrick.

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,” Mary began, and she quoted the poem for Laura. – These Happy Golden Years, Chapter 16, “Summer Days”

The poem Mary Ingalls quoted was “To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time,” by Robert Herrick (1591-1674). It was first published in a volume of verse titled Hesperides, and is perhaps the most famous poem to extol the notion of Carpe diem, or “seize the day.” To live in the moment, here, is to recognize the ephemeral quality of life by celebrating life and all its pleasures… after marriage, or course.

The image at right is of the oil painting on canvas, “Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May,” by British Pre-Raphaelite artist, John William Waterhouse, painted in 1909. This was the second Waterhouse painting of the same subject.

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 to-day
To-morrow 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 for ever tarry.


“Gather ye roses while ye may” (THGY 16)