Love and Poetry For centuries, poets have incorporated various themes of love into their works. Over the years, although there have been drastic social changes within female gender roles, some traditions in regards to love and marriage still remain. One theme ever present in poetry is that love should not be delayed because time is short. It is the central theme in a poem written in the seventeenth century by Robert Herrick and is also the theme in a twentieth century poem written by Richard Wilbur. In both, the message is conveyed by a male speaker who addresses a female. Though the poems are different in tone and diction, both are meant to forewarn the female of love postponed.
Robert Herricks poem entitled "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time", was written in the year 1648. This was a time in which woman's role in life was clearly defined.
As a rule, a woman was to remain a virgin until eventual marriage. In an admonishing tone, the male speaker of this poem addresses a female virgin by encouraging this tradition but primarily suggests that she not delay in marrying. With effective metaphors, the speaker warns this young virgin of what will happen if she does. The poem's regular rhythmic pattern of abab along with the use of punctuation as an intended pause at the end of each line accentuates the declarative nature of the poem.
In the first stanza, the speaker compares the virgin to a flower. This metaphor emphasizes that time is short and beauty does not last forever just as a "...flower that smiles today,/ Tomorrow will be dying." (lines 4-5) These lines humanize the flower and bring forth an image of a smiling young virgin. Immediately following, the image of death with all...