O mistress mine, where are you roaming?
O stay and hear! your true-love’s coming
That can sing both high and low;
Trip no further, pretty sweeting,
Journey’s end in lovers’ meeting–
Every wise man’s son doth know.
What is love? ’tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What’s to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies no plenty,–
Then come kiss me, Sweet and twenty,
Youth’s a stuff will not endure.
A song sung by the clown Feste in Twelfth Night, it is one of the most musical of Shakespeare’s lines taken from his plays.
Crape Diem is a throw-back to Horace’s ode , meaning “seize the day” , a theme so much like the evanescence of youth sung by Omar Khayyam.Youth is transient and while it is there seize the moment and enjoy it without thoughts of the future.
Youth’s stuff will not endure
Some interesting reflections of the poet:
The beloved roams and the poet asks her to stay still and hear. True love is coming, that can sing both high and low. There is a gentle playfulness by the poet , even a hint of sarcasm about a beloved who plays “difficult to attain” as if her youth is stuff that will endure. The poet is aware of the futility of such an attempt because in the act of running away is loss of the joys of youth, a failure to seize the day. Present mirth has present laughter. Nobody know what lies in the womb of time. Playing coy is fine but does not guarantee laughter. All journeys must end in lover’s meeting.In delay there is no plenty. The poet is capable of singing both high and low.