carpe diem

carpe diem kär´pĕ dē´ĕm [key], a descriptive term for literature that urges readers to live for the moment [from the Latin phrase seize the day, used by Horace]. The theme, which was widely used in 16th- and 17th-century love poetry, is best exemplified by a familiar stanza from Robert Herrick's 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.
Shakespeare's version of the theme takes the following form in Twelfth Night :
What is love? 'Tis not hereafter
Present mirth has present laughter
What's to come is still unsure.
In delay there lies no plenty,
Then come and kiss me sweet and twenty
Youth's a stuff will not endure.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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