Living Life to Its Fullest--Andrew Marvell’s Poem, “to His Coy Mistress”

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Living Life to its Fullest
“Carpe diem” is a Latin phrase that is commonly translated as “seize the day.” Many poems contain ideas that are similar to that of carpe diem. They discuss how one must cherish every moment of his or her life because life is limited and will eventually come to an end. Andrew Marvell’s poem, “To His Coy Mistress,” is an example of a carpe diem themed poem. Through the use of invigorating imagery, multiple tones, and thought-provoking metaphors Marvell develops an allegory for living every second of life to its fullest.

Marvell uses visual imagery to advocate the idea that every life is limited and must come to an end. Imagery such as “My echoing song; then worms shall try” (Marvell 27) makes one think of death and decay. It creates images associated with the decomposition of bodies that is brought on through death. Another example of imagery that portrays how all life ends is, “And your quaint honor turn to dust, / And into ashes all my lust” (Marvell 29-30). The image of something turning into dust or ashes creates a sense of a life ending. Moreover, the next line of the poem also brings about the sense of something passing away; “The grave’s a fine and private place” (Marvell 31). When hearing or seeing the word grave one begins to form images of burial places, thus leading him or her to think of death. Such imagery as the examples described above, are used to emphasize the fact that all life ends. This is done in order to show people that they need to take risks and live life to the fullest so that they can pass on without regrets and wishes of what they should have done.

The changes of tone in Marvell’s poem demonstrate the shift in urgency and understanding of how life is too short to let ventures slip by. In the beginning of the poem, the tone is more calm and relaxed. The speaker is describing how much a girl means to him. He talks of how he would wait forever to be with her; “We would sit down, and...
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