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By Robert Herrick

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.


Source: The Norton Anthology of Poetry Third Edition (1983)

  • Arts & Sciences
  • Living

Poet Bio

Robert Herrick
Robert Herrick was born in London and may have attended the Westminster School. At age 16, he was apprenticed to his uncle, a goldsmith, but he terminated the apprenticeship after six years and went to St. John’s College, Cambridge, where he received a master’s degree. He greatly admired Ben Jonson and became part of the group known as the “Tribe of Ben.” Herrick never married; many of the women he addresses in the poem in his volume Hesperides may have been fictional.

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