A carpe diem poem, from the word carpe diem itself, is one that emphasizes the fear of a temporary life and happiness and the desire to live and savor the present moment. In Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress,” the author reveals an urgent and pressing need for his female lover in order to sustain his existence and gratify his sexual desires. The greater part of the poem revolves around the fear that the narrator has towards the fleetingness of his coy mistress’ love. In fact, he is afraid that someday or soon, death will seize from his this great love: “But at my back I always hear/ Time’s winged chariot hurrying near” (Marvell 21-22). Thus, the narrator is fearful that someday, time will eventually catch up with him and take away his lover and her love for him. Moreover, he imagines that if he does not seize the day and experience the moment of love now, “…then worms shall try/ That long preserv’d virginity/ And your quaint honour turn to dust/ And into ashes all my lust” (Marvell 27-30). Thus, if the narrator does not do anything now – if he does not decide to love his lover now, then eventually death will definitely catch up with them. Therefore, for a carpe diem poem, one has to grab the opportunity of the moment in order to experience rewards such as physical gratification and love’s sustaining power.
Another example of a carpe diem poem is Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time.” In this particular poem, the poet summons the women in haste, while at the same time emphasizing to them two very important facts – time is of the essence, and that nothing lasts forever. The idea that time is gold is evident in the lines, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may/ Od Time is still a-flying” (Herrick 1-2). This simply means that while there is still time, one should try to achieve one’s dreams as soon as possible. In the same way, it is a reminder that if one does not