Carpe Diem Examples

Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem is a Latin phrase that literally means "seize the day." It's literary history can be traced back to the poet Horace, who wrote "carpe diem quam minimum credula postero," which means "sieze the day, with minimum trust in the next one."


The idea of seizing the day has been a popular one over the centuries in literature. Writers often talk about making the most of the day, or of the time that we are given.

Examples of Carpe Diem:

Examples of "Carpe Diem" in Literature

Robert Herrick's "To the Virgins to Make Much of Time" is one of the most popular examples of a "seize the day" mentality:


Gather ye rose-buds 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.


Another famous example of a carpe diem literature is Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress." As with Herrick's poem, Marvell is attempting to convince a woman to seize the day in terms of physical love.


Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.


But at my back I always hear
Time's wing├Ęd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust;
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.


Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

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