Carpe Diem – Robert Herrick’s Poems Writing Sample

The concept of carpe diem, often expressed through songs or poems, is often understood as the notion of “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”. Carpe diem typically involves conversing with a lover and urging them to embrace the moment, reflecting a hedonistic worldview that life is short, the afterlife does not entail punishment, and one should not be concerned about their reputation or consequences. Above all, the poet, in a desperate attempt to persuade their lover, emphasizes that the opportunity is presently available. Poems or songs embodying the carpe diem theme frequently center around youth.

Both Robert Herrick’s poem “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” and Catullus’s “Vivamus et Amemus” exemplify the characteristic elements of this particular genre. In the first three lines of his poem, Catullus presents his appeal by urging, “Let us live, my Lesbia, let us love, and let us deem all the rumors of stern old men worth just one penny!” Catullus enhances his argument for a passionate love life through the use of metaphors and ambiguous descriptions.

The author’s persuasive appeal is reinforced by the metaphors used in lines 4-6, which highlight the importance of cherishing their love without being concerned about others’ opinions. In line 5, the phrase “when that brief light has fallen for us” metaphorically represents the limited time the lovers have to live. Catullus endeavors to persuade Lesbia to be with him by emphasizing that their lives are short and they must love each other during this time. Furthermore, Catullus strengthens his appeal by stating that they “must sleep a never ending night,” accentuated by the elision between “perpetua” and “una.”

To strengthen his appeal, Catullus describes his desire for numerous kisses in lines 7-9. He confuses both the reader and his lover, Lesbia, by requesting “hundreds” and “thousands” of kisses. Through the repetition of mille, centum, dein, deinde, and altera, Catullus effectively communicates to Lesbia that she should not waste her time looking around, but instead spend her time kissing. Similarly, in his poem “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time,” Herrick expresses his desire for us to seize the day. In line 1, Herrick urges us to “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,” encouraging us to live life to the fullest.

Herrick employs the rosebuds to symbolize both earthly fulfillment and the transient nature of life. In the third line, he utilizes the flower to suggest that all of us, like the flower, will experience moments of happiness but ultimately face mortality. Further emphasizing the briefness of life and emphasizing the importance of living it, Herrick employs the sun as a representation of life’s abundance, while also using the setting of the sun as a symbol of death. By employing both the image of the rose and the image of the sun, Herrick metaphorically conveys the fleetingness of human existence.

Herrick utilizes the concept of youth in lines 9-12 to symbolize the prime period of one’s existence and urges us to relish it. He emphasizes that love occupies a special place in a person’s life and advises us to seize it when it presents itself. In the final four lines, Herrick connects all aspects of life and unites them through the institution of marriage. While Catullus and Herrick employ contrasting approaches to express their carpe diem philosophy, they both share elements of an epicurean argument and the components that constitute a carpe diem mindset.

Both Herrick and Catullus encourage their respective lovers to embrace life and take risks. Herrick’s poem emphasizes the importance of seizing the present moment, while Catullus urges his lover to disregard the opinions of others and indulge in impulsive actions. Both poets aim to persuade their lovers to join them in their pursuit of a fulfilling life. While Herrick does not discuss the consequences of the afterlife or the significance of reputation, he does touch on themes commonly found in Catullus’ work, such as addressing a beloved and highlighting the brevity of life.

The Short Story “Saboteur”

“Hau Jin’s “Saboteur” addresses the impact of China’s Cultural Revolution on individuals’ lives, highlighting how a once loyal and educated scholar transforms into a merciless assassin. The story explores the theme of revenge and utilizes irony. Set in Muji city, China, during the 1980s after the Cultural Revolution, the narrative exemplifies how the setting influences character behavior. Mr. Chiu and his bride choose Muji city as their honeymoon destination, likely due to its beauty. However, the revolution greatly alters people’s perceptions of morality. While Mr. Chiu initially seeks justice, he ultimately succumbs to becoming a “saboteur.” The story emphasizes the consequences of the Cultural Revolution on individuals and society.”

During and after the Cultural Revolution, the government had a strained relationship with intellectuals. Mr. Chiu, who is a professor at Harbin University, is worried about his liver deteriorating and his acute hepatitis. His wife, who looks weak with pale cheeks, wears glasses that can be seen as a symbol of vulnerability. Despite their difficulties, the couple enjoys a comfortable life, which is evident from their possession of a color TV. Their status as intellectuals reveals how the police treat them differently. It is obvious that it is easier to control an uneducated population compared to an informed one.

Despite being unjustly arrested, Mr. Chiu remains optimistic about receiving fair treatment. He is not afraid because the cultural revolution has concluded and the party has emphasized equality before the law (P635).

However, upon arriving at the interrogation bureau, Chiu’s demeanor appears to have shifted. During questioning by the bureau’s chief, he unexpectedly burps in the office. This behavior is deemed inappropriate for a scholar and raises concerns that Chiu may be confronting greater difficulties than he originally anticipated (P635).

Both policemen displayed brutal behavior, which led Chiu to believe they were no match for his education and his ability to defend himself. However, when faced with the chief of the bureau, Chiu encounters someone equally intelligent and astute. This encounter evokes physical pain within Chiu, as described by the sensation of something stirring in his stomach. This shift from hopefulness to doubtfulness demonstrates the dynamic nature of his personality. Upon returning to his cell, Chiu seeks solace in an old saying that highlights the futility of arguing with soldiers as a scholar, as it only leads to confusion.

We can also witness his transformation. This occurrence also foretells and justifies Chiu’s eventual response. While he rests in his prison cell, Chiu’s anger intensifies and he believes that “those hoodlums had bitten off more than they could chew” (P637). The scholar is already contemplating revenge, highlighting his character’s dynamism once again. His health declines as he catches sight of his former student in the courtyard and he is overwhelmed with a feeling of sickness (P638). Initially, Chiu had refused to sign his self-criticism because he had hope in the fairness of the system and was convinced of his innocence.

However, once he realizes that his fate and the fate of his lawyer rely on this document, he loses hope and signs it. We can empathize with the anger felt by the scholar when he was eventually released. Chiu is so enraged that he claims he would destroy the entire police station along with their families (P639). This particular incident marks Chiu’s behavioral shift, as he resolves to take action (P639). The main character decides to inflict suffering upon the townspeople by spreading Hepatitis in a vengeful frenzy. According to his lawyer, Chiu’s face appears “jaundiced” and he transforms into an “unattractive man” (P640).

This passage illustrates the transformation of the scholar into a morally corrupted individual. Sabotage, which refers to intentional damage to machinery, is deemed by Chiu as the act of the policemen who disrupt the social order. However, Chiu himself ultimately becomes a saboteur when he infects eight hundred innocent people with Hepatitis, resulting in the deaths of six individuals, including two children. The reader also witnesses the protagonist’s anger as he tries to control his fury. Mr. Chiu’s words “let me look at that” (639) and his repeated expression “if only I could kill these bastards” (P640) reflect his desire for revenge. The central theme of the story revolves around seeking vengeance.

Concept Of Maori Mana

Tikanga Māori (Māori cultural practices) guide Māori in social relationships and help them to understand the world. Mana, the “authority, power, control, influence, and prestige” (Ka’ai & Higgins 2004:17) a person has, is one of these concepts. Every aspect of Māori culture is interwoven, and their deeply holistic worldview (Boyes, 2010a) keeps Māori connected not only to the tāngata Kiko Kiko (physical aspects of the world) but also to te taha wairua (spiritual aspects of the world) (Ka’ai & Higgins 2004:13).

Mana whenua (gained from being responsible for a piece of land), mana atua (power extended from the gods), mana tūpuna (power passed on from ancestors), and mana tangata (power gained by one’s achievements) reflect the rich connection Māori have with each other and their environment (Boyes, 2010a). Whakapapa (genealogy) is an intrinsic part of Māori society, and the belief that “their people descended from the atua (gods)” (Ka’ai & Higgins 2004:14) gives great mana to their whakapapa.

This rich connection with the physical and spiritual produces a close relationship with the atua and the mana extended from them. The belief that all aspects of the physical world came from the atua, such as Tānemahuta’s forests, means that a person has much mana whenua when they have kaitiakitanga (stewardship) over land (Williams, 2010). Mana tūpuna and mana tangata are important in Māori leadership and create a stable relationship between leaders and their people.

The eldest or tuakana of a whānau (family) is seen to be more directly related to the atua and therefore inherits the most mana tūpuna out of their siblings. The kaumatua (family elder) would have much mana tūpuna and be well-respected in their family as the most senior descendant (Boyes, 2010d). Usually, the kaumatua, Rangatira (clan or hapū leader), or Ariki (iwi or tribe leader) would be tuakana of their whānau (Boyes, 2010b). However, mana tūpuna is not enough to become a leader in Māori society; being able to provide, protect, and bring pride to a hapū or iwi is essential.

Through mahi kai, the production, and supply of food, having courage in war, a gift in oratory, extensive knowledge of traditional practices, as well as being able to mediate between whānau, hapū, or even iwi, a chief can prove themselves to have great mana tangata (Boyes, 2010b). A concept that underpins all aspects of Tikanga Māori is manaaki or the common good (Boyes, 2010c). Māori chiefs would gain much mana by showing hospitality to neighboring hapū or iwi. This ideal is so important to Māori that we still see it today with the sharing of kai (food) when at the marae (meeting house) or entering their homes.

Just as mana can be gained, it can also be lost. A person “loses mana when he disappoints expectations or fails in an enterprise, when he does wrong, or when he is criticized or ‘put down’ by others” (Metge, 1976: 65). During the battle, an iwi could be badly beaten, and their warriors would lose mana. The dead were often hidden before being buried to protect the mana of that person and their whanau if warring with a neighboring hapu or iwi. Enemies would come and get utu (revenge) on the dead by eating their flesh, in doing so taking away their mana (Boyes, 2010c).

When a person’s mana is threatened, they can fight to rebuild it by excelling at important tasks or going after the person who took their mana. Mana atua shows how tapu (sacred) leadership is. The conduct of a Maori community shows that the rangatira, who has both mana tupuna and mana tangata, is respected and has clear control. This respect is not gained through fear, but by the mana that the leader has both inherited and achieved. It could be thought that traditional leadership and the mana needed is no longer relevant in contemporary Aotearoa.

However, countless Maori leaders of today show the mana tangata traditional Maori chiefs needed to serve their people (Boyes, 2010b). To be a Maori leader today, you must show many qualities, including strategizing and planning for the future well-being of the people they manage, an ability in te reo (the language) and Tikanga Maori, good negotiation and facilitation skills, active participation in the Maori world, being a role model, and having effective communication (Boyes, 2010b). All of these qualities describe a person with great mana who can really work for the collective.

Professor Sir Mason Durie of Rangitane & Ngati Kauwhata is a contemporary Maori leader who shows much mana tangata. He is DVC & AVC at Massey University and has contributed much to Maori health programs as well as being a world leader in Indigenous Development & Health (Boyes, 2010b). His ability to show manaaki and his numerous achievements prove he has great mana. The mana of a person is measured by many things, the land they hold, their ancestors before them, and the feats they have achieved. Most importantly, mana is assessed by those around you and the people you are working to aid.

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