“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may”

From Wikipedia:

“Carpe diem is a Latin aphorism, usually (though questionably) translated “seize the day”, taken from book 1 of the Roman poet Horace’s work Odes (23 BC). Carpe is the second-person singular present active imperative of carpō “pick or pluck” used by Horace to mean “enjoy, seize, use, make use of”. Diem is the accusative of dies “day”. A more literal translation of carpe diem would thus be “pluck the day [as it is ripe]”—that is, enjoy the moment. It has been argued by various authors that this interpretation is closer to Horace’s original meaning.

In Horace, the phrase is part of the longer carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero, which is often translated as “Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow (the future)”. The ode says that the future is unforeseen and that one should not leave to chance future happenings, but rather one should do all one can today to make one’s own future better. This phrase is usually understood against Horace’s Epicurean background. It has been argued that the meaning of carpe diem as used by Horace is not to ignore the future, but rather not to trust that everything is going to fall into place for you and taking action for the future today.

Collige, virgo, rosas (“gather, girl, the roses”) appears at the end of the poem “De rosis nascentibus” (“Of growing roses”, also called Idyllium de rosis) attributed to Ausonius or Virgil. It encourages youth to enjoy life before it is too late; compare “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may” from Robert Herrick’s 1648 poem “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”.

Peter Bradshaw wrote in The Guardian of 25 Apr 2015 (“Citizen Kane and the meaning of Rosebud”):

“…But how about that tiny detail that Kane’s would-be biographers believe is the key to everything? The murmured word on his deathbed: “Rosebud”. It is a mystery which they fail to solve, but we do not (…They find the sled on which the eight-year-old Kane was playing on the day that he was taken from his home in Colorado. Deeming it junk, they throw it into a furnace. As the sled burns, the camera reveals its trade name, ignored by the staff: “Rosebud.”…) – it relates to Kane’s last moments of childhood innocence and happiness, playing in the snow before his bank-trustee appointed guardian, the Dickensian Mr Thatcher, comes to take him away to prepare for him his lonely new life as a 20th-century American oligarch. Kane’s business manager, Mr Bernstein, played by Everett Sloane, tells us never to underestimate the importance of tiny moments, and famously remarks that never a month goes by without him thinking of a fleeting glimpse he had once of a beautiful girl in a white dress and parasol….

…It circles back to Rosebud: the anti-riddle of the anti-Sphinx…The murmuring of “Rosebud” is in one way the film’s teasing offer of synecdoche: the part for the whole, the one jigsaw piece that is in fact the whole puzzle. But it isn’t.

Rosebud is more probably (pictured) Orson Welles’s intuition of the illusory flashback effect of memory that will affect all of us, particularly at the very end of our lives: the awful conviction that childhood memories are better, simpler, more real than adult memories – that childhood memories are the only things which are real. The remembered details of early existence – moments, sensations and images – have an arbitrary poetic authenticity which is a by-product of being detached from the prosaic context and perspective which encumbers adult minds, the rational understanding which would rob them of their mysterious force. We all have around two or three radioactive Rosebud fragments of childhood memory in our minds, which will return on our deathbeds to mock the insubstantial dream of our lives.

This brings me to my own “Rosebud” theory of the film, the moment that may or may not explain everything. It is in fact the moment that isn’t there, a shocking, ghostly absence that Welles allows you to grasp only after the movie is over: the death of his first wife and his son in an automobile accident. We only hear of it in the newsreel about Kane that begins the film – the brief roundup that we are invited to believe does not get to the heart of the man. But that is the last we hear of it. It happens two years into his second marriage. When does Kane hear this terrible news himself? How does he react to the death of his first wife and his adored little boy? We never know. Welles leaves it out – perhaps he is saying that Kane did not react, that he is too blank, too emotionally nullified, too spiritually deracinated to respond…this is the final unspoken moral of Citizen Kane: a terrible tragedy of ownership and egotism – a narcissistic drowning.”

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