28 poems on living life to the fullest, today

June 25, 2008

So, you just graduated from [pick one: high school, college, business school, law school, medical school, flight school, cooking school, firefighters academy, police academy] and you’re looking for a job. But here you are cruising the web instead of knocking on the doors of employers.  Carpe diem poems for making the most of time

You have come to the right place. To keep you in the flow where you need to be to get that job, let me suggest this article from the Academy of American Poets, “Carpe Diem: Poems for making the most of time.” And most especially, let me suggest the 28 poems they list there on plucking the day. The chief list of 28 you will find below the fold.

The Latin phrase and a lot of the history of the idea in poetry gets a lithe explanation in the essay there:

The Latin phrase carpe diem originated in the “Odes,” a long series of poems composed by the Roman poet Horace in 65 B.C.E., in which he writes:

Scale back your long hopes

to a short period. While we
speak, time is envious and

is running away from us.
Seize the day, trusting
little in the future.

Various permutations of the phrase appear in other ancient works of verse, including the expression “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” which is derived from the Biblical book of Isaiah. At the close of “De rosis nascentibus,” a poem attributed to both Ausonius and Virgil, the phrase “collige, virgo, rosas” appears, meaning “gather, girl, the roses.” The expression urges the young woman to enjoy life and the freedom of youth before it passes.

Since Horace, poets have regularly adapted the sentiment of carpe diem as a means to several ends, most notably for procuring the affections of a beloved by pointing out the fleeting nature of life . . .

The careful reader will find another three poems on the topic hidden in the list at the end of the article.

Graduates, you’d be happy with just a little per diem at the moment. I can’t give you that. You might find that these poets give you much more. Seize the opportunity, and see for yourself.

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