28 poems on living life to the fullest, today

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.

The 28 poems recommended by the Academy of American Poets:

Carpe Diem
A Psalm of Life
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
A Song On the End of the World
by Czeslaw Milosz
Air XXII from Three Airs for the Beggar’s Opera
by John Gay
All the World’s a Stage
by William Shakespeare
Another Song [Are they shadows that we see?]
by Samuel Daniel
Archaic Torso of Apollo
by Rainer Maria Rilke
Be Drunk
by Charles Baudelaire
Daphnis and Chloe
by Haniel Long
by Langston Hughes
First Fig
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
From A Shropshire Lad (II)
by A. E. Housman
from Twelfth Night
by William Shakespeare
I tie my Hat—I crease my Shawl (443)
by Emily Dickinson
by Rudyard Kipling
by Tony Hoagland
Live Blindly and Upon the Hour
by Trumbull Stickney
My life closed twice before its close (96)
by Emily Dickinson
Nic Dwa Razy (Nothing Twice)
by Wislawa Szymborska
O Me! O Life!
by Walt Whitman
O, Gather Me the Rose
by William Ernest Henley
Song to Celia
by Ben Jonson
The Layers
by Stanley Kunitz
The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost
To His Coy Mistress
by Andrew Marvell
To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time
by Robert Herrick
Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam
by Ernest Dowson
We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths
by Philip James Bailey
You Can’t Have It All
by Barbara Ras

Which of these poems is your favorite? Tell us in comments below, please.

Help others to seize the day, or at least read poems about life:

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5 Responses to 28 poems on living life to the fullest, today

  1. A great collection of poems, some fantastic classics that open up your mind, make you think and carry on with the life that awaits your being.


  2. Crystal says:

    Oh, I forgot a “psalm of life”
    that one is absolutely beautiful!


  3. Crystal says:

    These are lovely!
    my favorite is probably ” O’ Gather me the Rose”
    and of course If because that’s a classic


  4. Misty Poush says:

    Thanks for collecting these. My favorite would have to be “You can’t have it all”


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