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ten read the poem as a representative of the carpe diem theme, the speaker seems to step beyond the seize-the-day theme of “Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May” into darker territory. The speaker of “To His Coy Mistress” imbues the poem with sexual imagery, tone, and wording that is of a serious nature and that would put any female reader on guard against his advances.
The very title and opening of the poem are aggressive in their tone. The speaker refers to the “coyness” of the Mistress (Marvell 1). Most women are naturally shy and reserved in terms of sexual relationships and pursuit of such relationships. Society places a stigma on those women who are too forward or who pursue sex too much. Because society does this, many women become offended if their suitors do not perceive them as reserved in regards to sex. The speaker of the poem tells the Mistress that the “coyness . . . were no crime” only “Had we but world enough and time” (2 and 1). This approach is the equivalent of the modern pick-up artist’s technique of complimenting a woman but combining an insult into the compliment. The speaker compliments his mistress for her shyness but then insults her for putting off his advances for too long. Most women would recognize the insult hidden within the compliment and take offense to the tactics of the speaker.
The speaker continues insulting the Mistress’ shyness and coyness and aggressively attacks another of most women’s insecurities, their beauty. After informing his mistress that he would wait hundreds of years for her to give in to his advances, he revokes that statement by insulting his mistress’ beauty. He builds himself up by detailing how he would wait for her love “Till the conversion of the Jews” (Marvell 10). But, he informs her that should she wait that long her “beauty shall no more be found” (25). This fear is one of many women. They fear that time will rob them of their beauty and of the ability to
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