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Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress and John Donne's A Valedictorian: Forbidding Mourning

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Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress and John Donne's A Valedictorian: Forbidding Mourning


One may define poetry as imaginative and creative writing which uses elements like rhyme, meter, and imagery to express personal thoughts, feelings, or ideas. Certain subjects recur frequently in poetry such as carpe diem, nature, death, and family.
Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" and John Donne's "A Valediction: Forbiddmg Mourning," focus on the prevalent topic of love. Although both poems emphasize the importance and meaning of love, the tone of each poem reveals differences with regard to the conception and magnitude of the love; the diction shows contrasting ways in which each poet incorporates love into the overall theme while distinct figurative language devices further convey the themes. All of these differences add to the understanding and effectiveness of the poems.

In "To His Coy Mistress," the speaker does not conceive of true, ardent love; to him, love does not go beyond the realm of physical beauty or, perhaps, the realm of his mistress's bedroom. The tone of the first stanza illustrates the insincerity and exaggeration of the speaker with comments like, "An hundred years should go to praise / Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze / Two hundred to adore each breast..." (13-15).
Here, the speaker appears to be flirting and fawning upon his young mistress. The second stanza differs greatly from the first in that instead of using flattery to seek love or sexual favors from his mistress, the speaker resorts to blatant honesty. One may describe the tone as altogether realistic, gloomy, and eerie. In this stanza, the speaker clearly explains that his love will diminish when his mistress's beauty fades as he say...


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...d easily manipulated; therefore, their love much like the gold can withstand change. Again, in the .final three stanzas, Donne metaphorically compares the two lovers to a compass. As long as his lady remains "firm" (35) or "fixed" (27) like the :fixed foot in the center of the circle, then the she can anticipate her love's return as he completes his journey, his path around the circle.

Poems may share certain characteristics, but they often possess unique attributes.

Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" and John Donne's "A Valediction: Forbidding
Mourning," similarly concentrate on the subject of love. However, each poet contrasts in his conception of love and the way he chooses to disclose this conception through tone, diction, and other figurative language devices. By recognizing the differences, one comes to value and appreciate each poem's significance.


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