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SexualInnuendos in Carpe Diem Poetry
The Carpe Diem Poetry was more common during the Renaissance periodand it urged people to acknowledge the swiftness of time and how theyhave to make good use of their opportunities. In fact, a number ofpoets used the style in creating the various themes such as death,life, time and sexuality. More importantly, some of the poems evenadopted the sexual innuendos as a way of looking at the sexualityindirectly. For instance, the poem “To His Coy Mistress” byAndrew Marvell reveals multiple themes that insist that people shoulduse their time effectively. More specifically, it illustratesmortality and how death is inevitable and insisting that peopleshould enjoy the pleasures that the world has especially sex. RobertHerrick’s “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” also insiststhat the virgins should use their time well and ensure that deathdoes not end any plans they had. John Donne’s “The Flea” usesthe image of a flea and the mixing of blood and fluids to persuade agirl into having sex. Even “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”by Christopher Marlowe captures the theme of Carpe Diem that insistson the swift passage of time and the need to use every opportunityeffectively. All in all, the four poems also use the sexual innuendosthat help in reducing the derogatory nature of such poems. Instead,the imagery used help in addressing sexuality indirectly, and thathelps in making the poems also more presentable. The Carpe Diempoetry also has a number of benefits to the Renaissance period sinceit offers the ideas that help in nurturing the creativity thatartists possess. For instance, Carpe Diem poetry even insists on aparticular style and the development of a subgenre that seems moreobsessed with sex. However, the obsession with sexuality seems like apart of the human development and Freud Sigmund uses thepsychoanalytic theory to support the same assumption. Morespecifically, this paper discusses the sexual innuendos evident inthe Carpe Diem poetry while analyzing its benefits to the Renaissanceperiod and the use of the psychoanalytic theory to support thesexuality themes that were common during the same period.
Right from the title, one can note the sexual innuendo that Marvell’suses in the poem “To His Coy Mistress.” For instance, a mistressrefers to a woman that has a sexual relationship with a married man.On the other hand, the term “coy” looks at the reserved and theshyness that a person exhibits. Hence, the two phrases that are “coy”and “mistress” in one title create the sexual innuendo sinceMarvell uses innocent words to illustrate the derogatory nature ofthe sexual activities. Most mistresses are expected to be outgoingbut, not shy as Marvell implies. However, the poem has three stanzasthat address the sexual aspects based on different issues. Moreimportantly, Marvell presents the sex as a pleasure that he wants toachieve as time still exists. In fact, he reveals that time is theonly factor that makes it hard to love her as expected. The speakerillustrates how the various body features she has deserved the praiseand honor. He insists that time is too short and that he only has thetime for sexual pleasure and not the long-lasting relationship thatthe mistress might expect. Evidently, time is a key factor and thespeaker even insists how death will consume their bodies and thatwill seem a bit useless. The speaker even reveals that “Let us . .. / Tear our pleasures with rough strife/ Thorough the iron grates oflife” (Marvell, lines 43-44). The violent nature of the love andpleasure illustrates how he has the eagerness to quench his thirstand having sex with the girl as soon as possible. It also shows theway that he will treat the girl since he plans to maximize thepleasure too. He even shows that the “in thy marble vault . . . /worms shall try/ That long-preserved virginity:/ And your quainthonour turn to dust” (Marvell, lines 26-29). In essence, he revealsthe impact of death on their bodies and the need to have fun whilethey still have enough time. The image of the worms eating the girl’svirginity shows that she needs to keep having sex while she still hastime since she will die very soon. In essence, the image helps inpresenting the vulgar argument that is supposed to trick the girl tobed. It clearly illustrates that time is of essence and any delayswill result in regrets later.
Herrick`s “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” is another poemthat uses the sexual innuendo to illustrate more about the topic ofsexual activities. More specifically, he uses time and mortality toteach about the importance of having sex early enough and evenseeking a marriage partner. Right from the start, Herrick revealsthat “Gather ye rosebuds whileye may, Old Time is still a-flying” (Herrick,lines 1-2). The two lines address the virgins, and they insist thatone has to make good use of the present opportunities. The failure touse the time effectively will result in losses since the sameopportunities will be gone. From that point, he also demonstrates how“this same flower that smiles today, Tomorrow will be dying”(Herrick, lines 3-4)to insist that death is inevitable. Evidently, time and mortality arethe key factors that clarify the sexual innuendothat Herrick has adopted in the poem. He employs the approach as away of hiding the derogatory nature of the topic that he isdiscussing. He demonstrates that the virgins need to understand thattime is not on their side, and there is the need to use the availabletime effectively. On the other hand, the mortality is another factorthat Herrick reveals in the poem. He wants the virgins to understandthat soon they will die, and they will wish that they had enough timeto make good use of the current opportunities (Kavanagh, 199).However, their reluctance will cost them, and they will be left withnothing, but, the regrets. The approach urges people to have sexualactivities while they are still alive and mostly the virgins. Thescenario might seem a bit derogatory however, Herrick uses thesexual innuendo to make the phrases seem as innocent as possible evenif the deeper meaning is still the same. All in all, Herrickillustrates his mastery in using the sexual innuendo and passingacross the message of using opportunities effectively.
Donne’s “The Flea” is a poem that analyzes premarital sex usingthe least likely images. More specifically, the flea is used toillustrate a sexual encounter between the speaker and his lover.Donne uses the sexual innuendo in making the poem seem as innocent aspossible even if the content is more about sex. For instance, theentire poem is based on whether a girl and a boy should kill a fleathat has sucked blood from both of them. The poem also reveal that “Ostay, three lives in one flea spare, Where we almost, yea, more thanmarried are” (Donne, lines 10-11). The lines illustrate how the boybelieves that killing the flea will be another way of killing theflea and the two lovers that are arguing. At first, it seems like aninnocent argument but, deep down, the speaker wants to illustratethe need to have sex. In this poem, the arousing images include thesucking of blood as well as the squashing of the insects. Right afterkilling the flea, one might expect the boy to be angry and frustratedthat his lover committed the deed. Instead, the speaker seemscontended that the girl has killed the flea yet, the two did notface any severe consequences. The speaker also believes that themixing of their body fluids that also refers to sex will be harmlessin the end. More importantly, the mixing of their body fluids refersto the sexual activities that they might engage in (Vasiliauskas,82). The last line of the poem “Will waste, as this flea`s deathtook life from thee” (Donne, line 27) reveals that life is tooshort, and they still have to make good use of the few opportunitiesthey have. It is evident that Donne uses sexual innuendo to make thepoem friendlier and hide the explicit details that might also explainthe sexual encounter between the two.
“The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by Christopher Marlowe alsoillustrates the elements of the Carpe Diem in poetry. Morespecifically, the speaker reveals the love that a shepherd has forhis lover and he depicts a list of things that he will do for thegirl. In this case, the speaker takes a different approach where hedoes not promise the girl that he will marry her. Instead, even hispromises seem a bit extraordinary and clearly he cannot undertake allof them given that he is only a shepherd that does not have much tobrag about. He clearly evades the long-term commitment, and he isonly seeking pleasure that will be based in the moment. Theclarification aligns with the Carpe Diem that was more common at thatparticular time. The assumption was a product of the Renaissanceperiod that often saw the youth phase as a stage that ends quickly.It also means that they will die quite quickly even before theirtime. Hence, using their time appropriately meant exploiting each ofthe pleasures and the benefits that the world presented. In fact, hereveals that he only wants the sex and not the marriage that willtake a longer time. It is evident that he also acknowledges the waythat time moves quickly, and it is only best if they use their timeeffectively. Hence, sex will ensure that they make good use of theavailable time before their death. However, the poem does not presentthe response that the woman has towards the shepherd’s desires andthe hope of having sex with her. Even if he does not want thelong-term commitments, he still wants the woman to live with him. Thestrong passion shows how he has feelings with the lady, and he wantsto have something serious as well. The first line “Come live withme, and be my love” (Marlowe, line 1) of the poem, the shepherdclearly reveals his intention. However, it is evident that he hasother intentions that do not include marriage. The intentions ofengaging in sex and the worldly pleasure before calling it quit alsomeet the requirements of the Carpe Diem that insists on people usingtheir time efficiently.
The Carpe Diem poetry was largely known for the theme of “seizingthe day” that covered a number of issues in the society. Moreimportantly, the technique was often used in describing the sexualactivities and urging people to use their opportunities. At thattime, the society often nurtured the modesty and the conservativenature that was against the sexual activities. The exposure and theexplicit content in the poems were not that common even the deepermeaning talked about the sexual deeds. In most cases, the poetsemployed the use of sexual innuendos that will make the poem seemmore harmless. In fact, most of the sexual innuendos provided a wayto make the poems less explicit, and only a few people couldunderstand the deeper meaning that the phrases presented. The fusionof the carpe diem theme and the sexual innuendos was a typicalcharacteristic of the poems that were created at that particulartime. The most important aspect of the entire experience is the waythat the poets were more focused on creating some vivid imagery(Edelson, 12). In the process, the poets led to the creation of somegreat imagery such as the use of the flea by Donne. The approach wasquite convenient in revealing the themes and helped in hiding thederogatory nature of the sexual theme. Instead, the sexual innuendohelps in capturing the sexual theme from another perspective. It doesaddress sex from an indirect point of view, and that helps inensuring that the readers follow each detail and strive tounderstand. Analyzing the poem and getting the deeper meaning is oneof the elements that helped the poem in being more interesting.
Carpe Diem often had a vulgar argument that persuaded women to engagein the various sexual pleasures. More specifically, the key factorwas reminding the lady of death just to instill fear in her. Mostpeople are afraid of death, and they know that the reminder of theevent will push them into engaging in the activities they wish to.Hence, the use of the argument has to have the appropriate evidencethat will present the support to convince the girl. In this case, thepoets focused on time and mortality to support their arguments. Forinstance, Marvell reveals how the worms will eat her virginity thatwould have been untouched all that time. Such an argument willclearly persuade the girl into sexual activities even if she did notwish to engage in such a practice (Mahdi, 153). The same argumentalso incorporates the vulgar elements that also illustrate the sexualcontent that the poet is talking about. More importantly, all thepoets find a specific image that is not related to sex that supportsthe argument presented. The approach works perfectly in incorporatingthe sexual innuendo in the same poem. For instance, Donne even goesahead to use a flea and the way it sucks blood from both of themshowing how compatible they are. Donne even shows that the death ofthe flea without any dire consequences also proves that a sexualencounter between the two of them will be safe. Such vulgar argumentsare a key part of the Carpe Diem poetry, and the element is alsoessential in tricking the ladies into sex (Mahdi, 153). Even if thepoems do not offer the response, it is evident that the tactic willwork. The fact that the argument is vulgar in nature, and it isassociated with death, the ladies more likely gave into the plea.
Apart from the sexual innuendos, the four poems also capture theissue of time and mortality that is a typical characteristic of theCarpe Diem poetry. More specifically, the two poems “To His CoyMistress” and Herrick`s “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”insist on the two themes. Even if the theme is evident in the othertwo poems, it is more evident in these two. Both Herrick and Marvelinsist that life is too short and death is inevitable. Hence,everyone needs to use their opportunity while they still have time toexploit such chances as well. Given the two factors, everyone has touse every chance in doing something that will be beneficial in theend. They even describe death in detail and even reveal how the wormseat the virginity. By revealing the regrets, they are simply urgingeveryone to use the opportunities and their time effectively. Infact, they used the same approach in urging people to have sex asopposed to waiting. In this case, sex was one of the opportunitiesthat the poets believed might be helpful. The introduction of thesexual theme was one of the reasons that the poets even fused thepoems with sexual innuendos.
The use of imagery is also a key part of the presentation of theCarpe Diem poems, and the poets rely on their description to paintthe messages vividly. In particular, death, time, life and sex aresome of the things that keep recurring from one poem to another. Theimagery is what acts as the main part of the argument and the sexualinnuendo as well. More importantly, the explicit aspect of the poemmight be a bit degrading, and the use of the imagery will diffusesuch aspect and make it more presentable. However, the same imageryis narrowed down to personal and specific elements that clearlyrelates to the lady and the couple. For instance, the use of a flea,the mixing of blood, squashing of the flea in the Donne’s poempresents some of the imagery used (Mahdi, 153). The fact that Marvelluses the worms eating the ladies virginity presents the way deathmakes one suffer. Evidently, the two examples show the importance ofimagery in the poems since they help in making the issue more vivid.They also reduce the derogatory nature of a sexual poem since theyensure that the poem addresses sex from a different perspective. Thepresence of death, time and life also help in diffusing the sexualcontent that the poems talk about. In the process, one needs toconnect all the four themes and connect them to understand how CarpeDiem works. The approach also divides the poem into differentsections that seem to address a particular theme and finally givesthe lady the message that will persuade her. All in all, the imageryis quite important in providing the vulgar argument that will enablethe poet presents his or her message.
The Renaissance was seen as the period that saw the rebirth of ideasamong the artists. With every artist having a different idea, theycreated various unique sub-genres that also had distinct featuresfrom the other ones. For instance, the same process saw the emergenceof the Carpe Diem that made a significant influence in the period. Infact, the Renaissance poetry focused more on the order and theanalogy of the poems created. Carpe Diem was one the elements thatfacilitated the development of such qualities as well. The new cropof ideas was also enhanced by the stylistic features and thephilosophical changes that were made in the verse and the prose ofthe poems. Carpe Diem focused on a specific style that also dividedthe poem into three sections, and each had a special role. Forinstance, one talked about time, the other about mortality and lastlythe last section will urge the reader to use their opportunitieswisely. The fact that the same concept also insisted on thetransience of youth was a motivation to the poets. Most of themstrived to create some of the best poems when they still had enoughtime to do so. To some extent, the poems also urged the youngtalented people that had a passion for poetry to join the field. Theimpact of Carpe Diem was wide and led to various changes in the fieldthat was also critical and that specific time as well.
To some extent, one might question the poets for the way they focusedmore on the sexual themes in their poems. However, there is nothingwrong with that since everyone has thought about sex at variouspoints in their life. For instance, the psychoanalytic theory hasalso shown that people are obsessed with sexuality as well. FreudSigmund used his psychoanalytic theory to insist that the developmentof the mind occurs through five psychosexual stages (Kristeva, 59).In fact, he insists that sexuality is what reveals the functions ofthe id, ego and the superego too. The theory even assumes that theenvironment has a wide range of pleasure-seeking drives and thatmight cause conflicts within the mind. Hence, the id, ego, and thesuperego will often strive to create a balance that will control thedesires that one wants to seek. In the process, the theory insiststhat everyone is obsessed with issues of sexuality and no one shouldbe ashamed about revealing their feelings on such issues (Kristeva,59). From that point, it is quite clear that the poets are humanbeings, and they are just expressing their feelings. Through theCarpe Diem theme, they were able to address the issue effectively andreveal the reasons for the virgins to engage in the sexualactivities. In fact, the response of the audience to the particularpoems and their themes prove that everyone seems obsessed with sex.The poets were simply talking about the many issues that are in theminds of their readers. Most of the readers are also obsessed withthe issues of sexuality, and they will most certainly love the poemsthat addressed sex during the Carpe Diem period. All in all, Freud’sdescription is a key aspect of understanding how the entire scenarioworks and the way that it illustrates the sexual theme. Morespecifically, everyone might have reached a point where they areobsessed with a number of sexual stuff and they might seek a way toexpress themselves. In this case, the four individuals knew that theycould express their feelings perfectly through the poems. The samepoems clearly captured everything that they wanted to present, andthe Carpe Diem helped them in achieving all their goals.
At that time, the people were known to be conservative and preferredmodesty in most of their undertakings. Hence, the use of the sexualinnuendos in the poems was a common thing since it helped in makingthe phrases seem a bit less derogatory. A poem with the directphrases describing the process would have evoked mixed emotions withsome believing that such contents are derogatory in nature. As aresult, creating a balance and reducing the number of derogatoryphrases and using other indirect images were the only option. In theprocess, the poets picked certain images that will make sure thatthey address the sexual them but, from another perspective. Apartfrom that, they also ensured that their message was clear but,indirect to avoid some of the derogatory terms that they could use.For instance, the Donne’s “The Flea” represents the perfect useof the images that had an indirect association with the sexual stuff.More importantly, the sexual innuendos were a perfect way to avoidconflicts with those that were considered the conservative in thesociety and did not approve any derogatory terms in literature,especially poetry. The combination of various themes such as death,life and time all help in diffusing the theme of sexuality instead.They make the reader understand that all these themes are related andas a person one should make good use of the available time and toavoid any kind of regrets as well.
All in all, it is quite clear that the four poems capture the detailsthat align with the Carpe Diem theme. They have also illustrated howthe theme was used and various other issues that were combined tocreate a stronger argument. More importantly, the fusion of thesexual innuendos was also an important element that clearly shapedthe direction of the poem and ensured that the poets knew what theywere doing. The presence of the death, time and life clearly forcespeople into embracing their sexuality to avoid regrets. The conceptof “seizing the day” is evident in the poems and it pushes thereaders into doing everything they want without any delays. The samepoems might also have other deeper meanings since they act as a wayto motivate people into doing any ideas that they had in the past. Itis interesting, and the style also makes the poem more appealing tothe reader. For instance, the approach appeals to the emotions of thereader and ensure that they agree with the argument. Morespecifically, the poems use death to instill fear in the ladies toconvince them and win the argument as well.
In conclusion, the sexual innuendos in the Carpe Diem poetry wereessential in reducing the derogatory nature of the poems and ensurethat the poems look at the sexual theme indirectly. The four poemshave captured the details that were quite common in the Carpe Diempoetry. In this case, “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell isone of them and it reveals the benefits that the world presents andthe need to use time effectively. It also insists on engaging insexual activities since one can die any time without enjoying suchbenefits. Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”portrays the same theme and reveals that the virgins should engage insex before death catches up with them. John Donne’s “The Flea”employs the use of a flea to persuade a girl into having sex, and onehas to seek the deeper meaning to understand what the poemillustrates. Lastly, even “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”by Christopher Marlowe also uses the same theme, and it is evidentthat the poem insists on the proper use of time. In this case, theuse of sexual innuendos reduces the derogatory nature of the phrasesand makes the poem more innocent. It also makes sure that the poemsaddress the sexuality theme in an indirect approach instead. TheCarpe Diem theme was an instrumental role during the Renaissanceperiod since it helped in bringing a new style in creating the poemsand ensuring that the poets followed it. In the process, it alsoushered a period of new ideas where people were ready to try newideas without hesitation as well. The sexual obsession also alignswith the assumptions that Freud reveals in his psychoanalytic theory.He proves that sexuality is a part of the human development andpeople should be ready to embrace it. Hence, time after time, peoplemight note the obsession that people have regarding sexuality. Inmost cases, the obsession is just a normal phenomenon and Freud hadincluded it as a part of the development process. In fact, most ofthe conflicts that one experiences are a result of the sexual issues.The poetry is an important way of looking at the sexuality andinsisting on the essence of the life since death might occur anytime.Hence, there is the benefit of using every opportunity and findsatisfaction in the end.
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