“Carpe Diem” has to be the shortest and most sensible advisable phrase ever. For the uninitiated, it means ‘seize the day’. And we owe the phrase to the poetry of the Roman Poet Horace, who was born this very day, although centuries ago, 65 B.C to be precise (It’s 8th Dec already in my part of the world). For those who have a passion for history will perhaps agree that he lived in enviable times. There was a tectonic shift in regimes when he was just a boy and it was while he was still a very young man that Julius Caesar had been assassinated. Horace was witness to the turbulent power struggle in Rome.

A painting of Horace . Source - Wiki Commons
A painting of Horace

He had even served in the army, although he fought for Brutus, whose army was crushed by that of Marc Antony. With that defeated battle ended Horace’s career in the military.

After the end to his military career, he took up poetry seriously and published many works. He was friends with another literary giant of those times – Virgil. That’s the dude who wrote Aeneid, stuff every English literature student across the globe reads about!

For a lot of poets, Horace was a literary god. His legacy as a poet is immense, with his works influencing writers for centuries to come. I mean even Robert Frost was influenced by his works. And with a heavy heart I have to quote Robert Frost for those who do not know who he is:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost is the poet who wrote these often quoted lines. I mean I have seen even engineering students quote him (no I have no bias against them, just saying). So well, yes Horace influenced Frost too.

And although his works were obviously not in the English language, when translated, they are so simple to read, that you cannot but admire his stuff even today.

The Poem “Carpe Diem” itself is a simple short poem by the poet and a brilliant example of how timeless his poetry is, even though it has references to his times.

Leuconoë, don’t ask, we never know, what fate the gods grant us,
whether your fate or mine, don’t waste your time on Babylonian,
futile, calculations. How much better to suffer what happens,
whether Jupiter gives us more winters or this is the last one,
one debilitating the Tyrrhenian Sea on opposing cliffs.
Be wise, and mix the wine, since time is short: limit that far-reaching hope.
The envious moment is flying now, now, while we’re speaking:
Seize the day, place in the hours that come as little faith as you can.

Are we not all but slave to the times we live in? And while we cannot change the past, nor predict what the future holds, we could at least seize the day and live it the way want to. Carpe Diem indeed!

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