What's in a Word | All Blogs

Seize the day

By Debra Dobbins

As a chronomaniac, I am already frustrated as I begin composing this blog entry. I don’t have enough time today to wax eloquent (or try to) on the importance of time.

Luckily, a number of famous writers have expounded on the subject, so I’ll rely on them to help me convey how much I agree with Franklin’s comment.

A quick aside on time’s etymology— oh, golly, there’s no time to do it justice today. Suffice to say, the concept of “time” has been around a long … time.

Where was I? Ah, yes. About to quote famous writers to bolster my assertion about time’s importance. When I first read this quote, I thought of the expression, “Time waits for no man.” I took the time to google it, only to learn I would need to spend time to research it further.

Doing so was time well spent, because I learned a number of authors have used variations of this quote over the centuries. One variation, “Time and tide wait for no man,“ was written by Geoffrey Chaucer, an English poet of the Middle Ages and the first poet to be buried in Poets’ Corner of Westminister Abbey in London. He is most famous for “Canterbury Tales.”

(I’m tempted to digress on Chaucer, but the clock is ticking or whatever digital clocks do. More on him on another occasion.)

Oh, I must steal some time to note that “tide” in the above quote did not mean an inrush of water from the sea, but was an Old English expression for time. (Not surprisingly, then, the Norwegian word for time is tid.)

Hmm… back to more quotes. Robert Herrick (1591-1674) expressed the same idea in his poem, “To the Virgins, to make much of time.” The first two lines read:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:

In 1909 Robert Waterhouse paid tribute to Herrick with a painting entitled with the first line of this poem.

My favorite time-related quote, though, is “carpe diem.” It is found in a Latin poem by Roman poet Horace. Popularly translated, it means “seize the day.” According to Wikipedia, however, a better translation of carpe would be to “pluck” or “cull,” as in the harvesting of fruit. So, the original mandate was more along the lines of seeing a day as something like a fruit tree that should be enjoyed while the fruit is ripe (a rather appropriate thought for those of us lucky enough to live in this abundant valley).

Oh, just noticed that Franklin’s quote is next to a few horoscopes today that also mention time. I like that, since “horoscope” is composed of two Greek word parts. “Hora” meant “hour,” and skopos meant “watcher.”

Hmm … great reminder to watch the time and wrap this up. It’s time for the weekend to begin!

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" by Robert Waterhouse
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia



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