Themes in To His Coy Mistress
Live for the Moment: The concept of carpe diem runs throughout the poem, and the speaker's arguments towards his beloved reflect this. Love functions as a thematic counterpoint to the death imagery associated with the passing of time. The first stanza sees the speaker detailing all of the ways that he would adore his mistress if given the time. His argument is also framed in terms of love. The speaker claims that it is not haste or impatience that drive him; rather, it’s the desire to spend as much time as possible in consummate bliss with his mistress. Love is how the speaker and his mistress can win a victory over the relentless passing of time because every second spent well is a moment they win back from their villainous pursuer.
Time as the Enemy: Time is personified throughout the poem as a villain who seeks to send the speaker and his mistress to the grave. The idea that time is actively working against the lovers forms the basis of the speaker’s argument in favor of consummating their love sooner rather than later. Tied up in this fear of time is the fear of death. The speaker utilizes images of worms, dust, and ashes to highlight the future that he sees ahead of his mistress and himself. The association between time and death is cemented as “Time’s winged chariot” draws the lovers closer to “the deserts of vast eternity.”
Themes Examples in To His Coy Mistress:
Text of the Poem🔒
"Thus, though we cannot make our sun Stand still, yet we will make him run...." See in text (Text of the Poem)