As Short a Spring

The first of two paintings by William Waterhouse inspired by Herrick’s poem.

Robert Herrick (1591-1674) was an English poet and vicar. His major work, Hesperides, was published in 1648.


His most famous line is from 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.” I’m guessing that sounds familiar.

Waterhouse’s second version.

What most people probably don’t realize about the poem is that it’s simply telling girls to marry while they’re still pretty and can get their man. So think twice about who you quote it to or you might find out how many thorns a rose bush has!


I like his To Daffodils better. It’s considered the same carpe diem genre, but by using daffodils to symbolize humanity it feels a lot less dated.



To Daffodils

Robert Herrick



Fair Daffodils, we weep to see

You haste away so soon;

As yet the early-rising sun

Has not attain’d his noon.

Stay, stay,

Until the hasting day

Has run

But to the even-song;

And, having pray’d together, we

Will go with you along.


We have short time to stay, as you,

We have as short a spring;

As quick a growth to meet decay,

As you, or anything.

We die

As your hours do, and dry


Like to the summer’s rain;

Or as the pearls of morning’s dew,

Ne’er to be found again.



On the plus side, sometimes you can cheat with flowers, if not life. As requested, I did a walkthrough of how I made my ribbon daffodil. The method came from a book, but I had some trouble following the directions and thought maybe photos would help others too. So have at it if you want to try to make daffodils that won’t fade away as quickly!


Ribbon Daffodil

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Filed under Crafts, Poetry

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