Words on "To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell, about intertwining symbols with carpe diem

Essay by Ryan SchmidtCollege, UndergraduateA+, October 1996

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Either you have sex with me or you die. This is a very strong

statement which, when said, has to get someone's attention; and that is

exactly what Andrew Marvell intends for the reader in this poem. He

wants the undivided attention of this mistress so that he can scare her

and rush her into making a decision the way he wants and in due time.

Filled with time flavored symbolism, this carpe diempoem, 'To His Coy

Mistress' by Andrew Marvell, exemplifies the seize the day theme.

The cyclical, life symbolizing river, the water flowing by like

time, is the first place Marvell places the characters. And even

though they are very far apart, time still flows by for them both. As

the water flows, this concept begins to hint at the shortness of time,

for them to have sex, the source of new life. He then proceeds to

claim that he could love her ten years before the flood, something

already ancient, and up to the end of the world, using the

juxtapositioning of the two views of time enhance his argument and to

convince to accept his offer by telling her of his long-term commitment

for her in the short-term.

This flood also symbolizes life in the

fresh start of the new covenant. Because time keeps going, with or

without them, they must be active participants and not just the static

spectator. Otherwise, the fate Marvell relates would become their


Marvell's vegetable love is rather oxymoronic. Love is not

normally like the uncaring, thoughtless, and noncommunicating plant.

And yet his love is vegetable in that it is not adaptable. She is the

water, food, and light for his love; and as long as she is there, he

will love her. She is evrerything that...