Carpe Diem

Seize This Day (Written June 9, 2017)

What yesterday holds it holds alone,
Unchangeable, no longer yours to change,
What shots you could have taken then
Have long since moved out of range.

What might stay you’ll never know,
Nor what the past might come to claim.
Today alone you can call your own,
On this day alone may you take your aim.

So smile, while you have the chance,
Don’t let these moments pass you by.
The gifts of today quickly fade away
Like the sun as it sets from the sky.

And though the sun will rise again
It rises upon a different day,
With different chances and different gifts
From the past that is gone away.

Once yesterday ended it sealed that time,
And today is all that remains.
Today is the only chance you have
To learn and to grow and to gain.

Yes, seize this day, take life by the reigns,
Gain all that this day might have to give.
Don’t dwell on the past, or on too far ahead,
But on this day you have been given to live.


In college I had a phenomenal Latin professor, who had a great love for the poet Horace. In particular, she loved his Ode from which the phrase “carpe diem” comes. It always upset her that carpe diem gets equated to YOLO…and, honestly, it upsets me, too.

Carpe diem can be translated as seize the day, true. It can also, following on the other farming metaphors used in the ode, be translated as reap the day. Rather than being an expression urging you to do whatever dumb thing comes to mind because you will eventually die anyway, carpe diem is an expression urging you to reap the benefits of the day while they are ripe for the picking.

That said…

What actually brought this to mind for me, today, was a monologue from a dying man about how we must smile while we can, love while we can, be honest with others while they are still there for you to be honest with… ’cause you have no way of knowing if those opportunities will exist tomorrow. Rather than emphasizing today over dreams of tomorrow, than focusing on “Take care of the moments, and the years will take care of themselves.” (Maria Edgeworth), I want to focus on today instead of yesterday.

I don’t think it is just me, or those around me, who squander today by dwelling too much on yesterday. It is gone. Yesterday is no longer yours. So make the most of today.

Carpe diem, as Horace advised.


If you were curious, the dying man I speak of is a character in a Korean show called Chicago Typewriter, which I highly recommend you watch.

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