Heroism, Poetry, Faith and A Pagan Ethos

James G. Wiles
On 9/11, of all days, the words carpe diem echo in the mind.  "Seize the day," it's usually translated. Carpere, however, actually means "to pluck." Hence Robert Herrick's poem, "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time:" Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old time is still a-flying. And this same flower which smiles today, Tomorrow will be dying. This sentiment, too, lies behind Andrew Marvell's poem, "To His Coy Mistress." All of them have their root in Job 14:2. Because the root of the matter is "pluck:" Thus, the Book of Job: He cometh forth like a flower, And is cut down: He flees also as a shadow, And continues not. "Pluck" has several meanings, including a sexual one. And sex and passion are very much part of the meaning of "seize the day" - in "To His Coy Mistress," explicitly so. Yet these words - with its  imagery of a man's life as a fleeting flower - appear also in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer's funeral service. These sentiments are, in their origin, pagan. If...(Read Full Post)

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