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Home » » Discuss the 'carpe diem' theme in the poem, "To His Coy Mistress"
"To His Coy Mistress" of Andrew Marvell is a master-piece of Metaphysical poetry. It is a love-poem in which the speaker offers a strong plea to his beloved to soften towards him and relax her rigid attitude of puritanical reluctance to grant him sexual favours. The lovers, who may be the poet himself, builds up a strong plea and supports it with arguments which can not be refuted by a young woman. The poem thus contains the 'carpe diem' theme. 'Carpe diem', a Latin phrase means to seize the opportunity. The full implication of the phrase is "enjoy the present moments without caring for the future."

The poem is written in the form of a syllogism. Syllogism means an argument developed in a strictly logical form leading to a definite conclusion. In a syllogism there are three stages which may be indicated here by three words initiating each stage in the argument. These three words are: if, but , therefore.

The poem may be divided into three clearly marked sections. The first section begins with 'if'. Here the word 'had' conveys the sense of 'if' and in this section the lover says that the lady's coyness or indifference to physical enjoyments would have been justified if they had enough space and time at their disposal. Having enough space and time at their disposal, she could have occupied herself in searching for rubies on the banks of the Indians river, the Ganges, while he would complain about his unfulfilled love on the banks of the river Humber in England. The lover argues that having enough space and time, he would spend hundreds and thousands of years in admire and adoring various parts of her body.

The second section of the poem starts with 'but'. In the second section the lover refutes in an argumentative way as in a syllogism, the premise of the first section. The lover here says that all his propositions in the first section are not possible. Time is passing very swiftly and eventually they have to face the vast eternity. After a few years her beauty will decay and she will, after her death, will lie in a grave where worms will attack and pollute her long- preserved virginity. All her sense of honour and chastity will be meaningless there. The grave is a place where none can enjoy the pleasure of love making.

The third section begins with "therefore". As in a syllogism, on the basis of the arguments in the first and second sections, the lover draws a conclusion in the third section. Now it would be appropriate for both the lovers to enjoy the pleasures of love when there is still time, when her skin is still youthful and fresh. They should enjoy the pleasures of love making with all their energy and vigour.

To sum up, the poem resembles a syllogism in its arguments in favour of enjoying the pleasures of the present moments. It begins with the statement of a condition, then reasons are given why that condition cannot be fulfilled; and finally a conclusion is drawn. The conclusion of the poem is that the lovers should lose no time in enjoying the pleasures of love. The conclusion is justified in saying that the theme of the poem is that of 'carpe diem' which means that one should enjoy the present moments without caring for the future.


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