Sieze the Day! Andrew Marvell wrote his short poem To His Coy Mistress in a persuasive tone to allow the speaker to convince his mistress, the listener, to succumb to his want. Marvell uses meter, imagery, and tone to persuade his lady to further commit in their relationship. This poem has a very strong carpe diem or seize the day theme which Marvell conveys throughout the poem.
In general, the meter of the poem is iambic tetrameter. Marvell uses pauses as well as enjambment to break up the neat pattern that the rhyme scheme of the poem imposes. The first two lines, for example, contain internal pauses that break the tetrameter into shorter units; Had we but world enough, and time, This coyness, lady, were no crime. The third line contains no pauses and runs directly into the fourth, so that the rhyme runs opposite the rhythm of the couplet. Near the end of the poem, the lines seem to be coming out faster than at the beginning, creating a sense of urgency as the speaker talks. These last few lines are the lines in which the speaker talks about how the two should seize the day and live life to the fullest.
The use of imagery throughout the poem is also an effective means of conveying his message to the lady. His references to the Great Flood and the conversion of the Jews are both examples of biblical imagery. The timelessness of the Bible backs up his eternal love towards his lady. The references of the tomb are perhaps the greatest images of all, the images of death. Nothing depicts the urgency and shortness of life better than the expectation of death.
Images implied in the last stanza are those of a race against time. The goal is to try to beat time, and although time will eventually win, the runners must try to keep up with time for as long as possible, and actually beat it for awhile with the moment of love. And because no way exists to beat time, Marvell suggests that they must live with life they have to the fullest. Marvells excellent use of tone also helps to prove his argument with his mistress. In the first section, the poem takes a loving, romantic tone; We would sit down, and think which way to walk, and pass our long loves day.
Marvells romantic style of writing helps to prove his allegation that he loves his mistress more than anything in the world. The tone undergoes a drastic change in the second stanza, however; I always hear times winged chariot hurrying near. This describes how Marvell fears the shortness of life and the lack of time the two lovers have to share together. His deathly tone is effective because of the inevitability of death in everybodys life. The last section is a call to action, thus, though we cannot make out sun stand still, yet we will make him run.
Lines like these create a tone of urgent need to do as much as possible, which is very similar to the carpe diem theme. Marvells poem, written almost 500 years ago, is still a great, somewhat controversial and shocking poem. The content of the poem is timeless, however. The carpe diem theme of the poem is one of the reasons that the poem remains appropriate no matter when read.