To me, the theme of the poem is expressed in the narrator’s inability to take any risks, or to achieve any form of greatness or accomplishment. His indecision can be seen in the line, “To wonder, “do I dare?” and, “do I dare?”” The narrator appears apprehensive about aging without having done anything extraordinary, or even out of the ordinary. There are multiple references to aging, such as the line, “[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]”
The narrator is also preoccupied with the mundane nature of his life. The most well known line that exemplifies this is, “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.” Another line is “In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo.” The mention of Michelangelo is interesting because, in his time, Michelangelo was seen as one of the greatest artists. One of Michelangelo’s most famous works was a display of Florentine pride. He carved his version of the biblical figure, David, from a block of marble that was previously seen as unusable. By drawing this comparison to an accomplished artist like Michelangelo, the narrator cements the idea that his life and actions are extremely mundane, and that people, women specifically, do not notice him because of this.