Main Message Of to His Coy Mistress Novel

To His Coy Mistress

Time is an essence to life that is constant and never changing. It is important to the basic human being to live their life as if it is the only one they have, hence the saying of seize the day or carpe diem. In Andrew Marvell’s poem, “To His Coy Mistress”, the speaker of the poem uses the carpe diem theme to try and get into bed with a young mistress who is saving herself for marriage.

Andrew Marvell embraces carpe diem in his poem, “To His Coy Mistress”, by using symbolism.

Marvell embraces carpe diem in his poem by using symbolism in lines one through eight. The speaker of the poem is using the lack of time he has to charm this mistress into climbing into bed with him. The speaker makes this clear as he is speaking to his possible companion in the first two lines of the poem, “Had we but world enough, and time, / This coyness, Lady, were no crime.

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” (Marvell, 1-2). Along with these first two state lines, the speaker is saying that there is not enough time for this woman to be reserved and reluctant. Introducing the word “crime” into the lines, this hints that the lady’s reluctant actions were a mortal sin.

In lines eight and nine, the speaker goes on to saying that he would “Love [her] ten years before the Flood,” (Marvell, 8). The symbolism in this line is the use of the word flood. The flood symbolizes an allusion of a movement.

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The movement of a flood used here is an allusion that is compared to the quick movement of time in life. The flood could also be used as a symbol to a biblical reference because of the capitalization and emphasis on the flood. Given to the fact the biblical flood had happened many years prior to either of the characters existence, the speaker is reiterating that if it were possible, he would love his potential companion for eternity, but there is simply not enough time.

Andrew Marvell embraces carpe diem in his poem, “To His Coy Mistress”, using symbolism in lines twenty-one through twenty-four. The speaker once again brings up how time is rapidly moving with “But at my back I always hear / Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;” (Marvell, 21-22) in lines twenty-one and twenty-two. As the speaker goes on with trying to put the charm on this reserved woman, he emphasizes how time is always nipping at their heels. Giving personification to time symbolizes that time is driving a very fast-paced chariot and has shown no interest in slowing down for anything or anyone. Additionally, giving such personification to time as a driver hints how time has more control than any other passenger in life. Since time is so limited and arriving soon, this gives the speaker the opportunity to embrace carpe diem, or to seize the day at that moment so she should sleep with him.

In lines twenty-three and twenty-four, ‘And yonder all before us lie / Deserts of vast eternity.” (Marvell 23-24), the speaker does not emphasize so much on the symbolization of time being a very quick movement in life. The symbolization falls upon how easy it is to waste time. Deserts implicate vast land of essentially nothing and all of this lies before them. What the speaker is implying here to this mistress is that they have the power to seize the day while they have the opportunity to make something of these deserts and what time they have left with it.

The symbolism in lines twenty-seven and twenty-eight turns a little more foul than the symbolism previously used. The speaker turns the tables a little bit and goes from being romantic with trying to use carpe diem to be adulterous with the mistress to a more grave-like tone. The speaker goes on to saying, “then worms shall try / That long preserved virginity,” (Marvell 27-28). Carpe diem is embraced in these two lines because the speaker is basically suggesting that she should give herself up now or take the risk of waiting for something that will never happen. He is implying that worms will violate her corpse and makes fun at her coyness with her virginity; for wanting something eternal when there is not enough time in life for waiting around. Line twenty-nine, “And your quaint honor turn to dust,” (Marvell 29), emphasizes the two previous lines that her dignity will be basically for nothing.

Lines thirty through thirty-nine continues on to speak how they do not have eternity before them, but really a small amount of time, so she should give herself up to him. The speaker goes on to say “The grave’s a fine and private place, / But none, I think, do there embrace” (Marvell 30-31) in lines thirty and thirty-one. He is telling this coy mistress that there is no way to embrace life when they are dead. Then in lines thirty-two and thirty-three, the speaker emphasizes her youth, “while the youthful hue / Sits on thy skin like morning dew,” (Marvell 32-33). This is hinting that she will only get older from this day on and should embrace her youth in every way possible while she still has it, because even morning dew dries up throughout the time of the day.

The poem finishes with lines forty-five and forty-six, “Thus, though we cannot make our sun / Stand still, yet we will make him run.” (Marvell 45-46). The personification with sun can be correlated with the previous personification of time, putting emphasis on how the speaker does not have control on either of these things. What he can promise this young lady is that they can make time run along with them and seize the day while they can if only she gets into bed with him.

Along with seizing the day, Marvell has made a poem that gave a lot of powerful imagery of running away. It gives an image of possibly this coy mistress running the other way. It is unknown if this charm the speaker of the poem used actually worked, but it is known that Marvell has left literature with a classic poem that will forever represent the meaning of carpe diem. Using delicate placements and intricate wording, Andrew Marvell used symbolism in the poem, “To His Coy Mistress”, to embrace carpe diem.

Updated: Feb 27, 2024
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Main Message Of to His Coy Mistress Novel. (2024, Feb 27). Retrieved from

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