1 April 2013
Seize the Day
The metaphysical poet, Andrew Marvell, wrote the poem “To His Coy Mistress,” which is considered to be a seduction poem on the surface, but Marvell’s poem is about seizing the moment in life. Marvell uses figures of speech like metaphors, similes, and imagery to persuade the woman he loves to sleep with him, but he also wants to argue that life is short, and she should seize the day, both in life and sexually. The figures of speech that are in “To His Coy Mistress” enhance the themes of time, mortality, freedom and confinement, and sex, which makes the audience ponder the idea of carpe diem.
Time is one of the major themes of Marvell’s poem and time is also one of the major characters of the poem. Marvell uses an important figure of speech, personification, when he writes, “Time’s winged chariot hurrying near, (Stillinger 677.23)” and in that quote time is personified as a criminal that is pursuing the speaker. In the poem, there is a striking metaphor, “Deserts of vast eternity,” (677.24) where the speaker of this poem doesn’t compare eternity to deserts, but instead talks about deserts that are made out of eternity. Marvell uses this metaphor and the abstract idea, like time, to show that the desert is a symbol of emptiness and loneliness. The personification of time and the metaphor of eternity shows how time flies, and how time will pass you by, so seize the day.
Mortality, which is also known as death, is an intricate part of Marvell’s poem “To His Coy Mistress,” because mortality receives attention for a whole stanza. In the poem, Marvell writes:
But at my back I always hear
Time 's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song: then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave 's a fine
Cited: Stillinger, Jack, Deidre Lynch, Stephen Greenblatt, and M. H. Abrams. "To His Coy Mistress." The Norton anthology of English literature. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: W.W. Norton & Co., 2006. 677-678. Print. MLA formatting by BibMe.org.