To His Coy Mistress Summary
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Andrew Marvell is known for his odd writing style and beautifully metaphysical poetry. He writes about love and life, and plays with elements of time and space. He is most famous for his poem “To His Coy Mistress.” Published posthumously and a fine example of his writing style, “To His Coy Mistress” has inspired much discussion. The poem concerns love, romance, and the aphorism “carpe diem” – living life to the fullest.
As the poem begins, the speaker is talking about the woman of his dreams. He has attempted many times to court her, but she has shown no interest. In the first stanza, the speaker explains that if he were not constrained by time, by a normal lifespan, he would be able to show her how eternal and deep his love is. He would love her and admire every part of her body intimately. He would admire her eyes for a hundred years, and then take two hundred to admire each breast. He would spend thirty thousand years to admire the rest of her, leaving an entire age to give her his heart. He also tells her that with this limitless time, he would never tire of her resistance and rejection of his advances, and that her coyness would never dissuade him from trying to spend all of eternity together.
In the second stanza, he sadly speaks of the brevity of life, personifying time in a titan-like fashion: “at my back I always hear Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near.” In death, there is no love or romance; he attempts to persuade her to love him by reminding her how short human life is, that their time to be together is brief, and they must hurry to enjoy one another before it is over.
In the third stanza, Marvell writes, “Now let us sport us while we may, and now, like amorous birds of prey.” This stanza is another attempt to get this woman to fall for him. He almost begs her to change her mind, to requite his loving efforts so they can spend the rest of what little time they have together. He does this by using a variety of powerful and almost jarring metaphors. The speaker ends his lament with, “though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run,” meaning, although he is unable to stop time, if they were together, they would be so happy that time would fly by.
Critics have called this poem a powerful love story, praising it for its romantic and self-sacrificing elements, where the speaker would truly do anything for the subject. However, delving deeper, critics have found that Andrew Marvell is a master of sarcasm and irony. The metaphors in this poem uttered by other would be great declarations of love. However, Marvell uses such vivid imagery and words to portray ridiculousness. The poem depends on capricious and whimsical phrases that sound less serious and more ironic. The poet uses many death metaphors in the second stanza: “thy marble vault, shall sound my echoing song,” “worms shall try that long preserved virginity,” “into ashes all my lust,” and “the grave’s a fine and private place.” These vividly worded metaphors lend irony as the speaker uses the threat of death to woo this woman.
“To His Coy Mistress” is a structured poem written in iambic tetrameter, its rhymes in couplets. Poets, many of whom borrowed phrases such as “world enough and time” and “vaster than empires and more slow,” have praised the poem. Contemporary authors, such as B. F. Skinner and Stephen King, have borrowed lines from the poem to illustrate their characters’ fear of the brevity of life. Other poets, including Anne Finch and A. D. Hope, have written poems from the female subject’s point of view in response to Marvell. Though it was published more than three hundred years ago, its themes still resonate today.
Analysis of To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell Essay
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Analysis of To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell
Andrew Marvell's elaborate sixteenth century carpe diem poem, 'To His Coy Mistress', not only speaks to his coy mistress, but also to the reader. Marvell's suggests to his coy mistress that time is inevitably rapidly progressing and for this he wishes for her to reciprocate his desires and to initiate a sexual relationship. Marvell simultaneously suggests to the reader that he or she should act upon their desires as well, to hesitate no longer and seize the moment before time, and ultimately life, expires. Marvell makes use of allusion, metaphor, and grand imagery in order to convey a mood of majestic endurance and innovatively explicate the carpe diem motif.
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His love is so great it would, ?grow vaster than empires? (11-12). Although Marvell tries to equate his love for his mistress to plants, his argument is undermined by a plant?s biological incapableness of contemplation and reciprocal physical affection. Nevertheless, the speaker continues his praises of love, but points out that there is not enough time for further praise because time is passing quickly.
The poem then acquires a more serious tone when the poem loses its exaggerations and embellishments. He reassures his coy mistress that ?you deserve this state? of praise and high acknowledgment,
But at my back I always hear
Time?s wingèd chariot hurrying near. (21-22)
Rather than explicitly saying death is near, Marvell substitutes life?s bleakness with a ?winged chariot.? He slowly becomes more frustrated with her ?long-preserved virginity? and tires to inform his mistress that death is near and they still have not had intercourse. His frustration can be seen in his sexual pun on the word ?quaint? which symbolically refers to female genitalia. The intense imagery of genitalia is again echoed when Marvell describes to his coy mistress that even after death the ?worms shall try that long-preserved virginity? (27-28). Here the worms take on a phallic symbol, reinforcing his sexual desires. The speaker abstractly states that holding onto her virginity will do her no good because she will be