The words carpe diem mean “seize the day” in Latin. It is a theme that has been used throughout the history of literature and has been a popular philosophy in teaching from the times of Socrates and Plato up to the modern English classroom. Carpe diem says to us that life isn’t something we have forever, and every passing moment is another opportunity to make the most out of the few precious years that we have left. In the poems “A Fine, a Private Place” by Diane Ackerman and “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell, carpe diem is the underlying theme that ties them together, yet there are still a few key differences throughout each of these two poems that shows two very different perspectives on how one goes about seizing their day.
The first poem by Ackerman is about two lovers who find their own special place to make love: under water. The writer describes the captured moment over four stanzas of the undersea world, describing physical attributes and actions with marine life. The woman in the poem is described as “his sea-geisha / in an orange kimono / of belts and vests, / her lacquered hair waving” (Lines 24-27) and the man with “his sandy hair / and sea-blue eyes, his kelp thin waist / and chest ribbed wider / than a sandbar / where muscles domed / clear and taunt as shells” (Lines 34-40) Ackerman’s poem has a feeling of tranquility and patience, capturing the moment and enhancing it to its fullest extent. She portrays sex as a beautiful act, saying “he pum...
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