To His Coy Mistress Questions and Answers
by Andrew Marvell

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Is Andrew Marvell's poem "To His Coy Mistress" a carpe diem poem?

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Hollis Sanders eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" is a perfect example of a poem that exemplifies the meaning of carpe diem simply because the speaker of the poem is imploring the audience to seize the moment. The main argument in the poem is that being coy and patient would be acceptable if time were infinite. In fact the speaker would be more than happy to wait for thousands of years if indeed he had the time to do so.

However, the speaker knows that time is fleeting and that in the future, his mistress's "beauty shall no more be found." He implores his mistress to set aside petty notions of "quaint honor" and to seize the moment of love. The lesson of the poem itself is plainly "carpe diem."

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Andrew Marvell's poem, "To His Coy Mistress," is a great example of a carpe diem poem.  In this poem, the speaker entreats his mistress to seize the moment and be his lover "while the youthful hue sits on her skin like morning dew." Marvell portrays time is an enemy that diminishes beauty, making the argument that he and his mistress should be lovers in the present. 

The famous opening line, "Had we but world enough and time" suggests that if time were not an issue, then the speaker and his would-be lover could waste time doing whatever kinds of things they wished, but "time's winged chariot" is "hurrying near." Marvell's poem stresses that the lovers must live in the moment. 

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