Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” is a poem told from the point of view of a young man who claims to be in love with a young woman who is not willing to let him persuade her so easily. The speaker is desperate to have the young lady to sleep with him, so he continues to say everything and anything that he believes will draw her in and make her give in to him.
The speaker is obsessed with time. He keeps putting a measure of time to the way he loves the young woman. He knows that they will not be young forever, nor will they live forever. “Had we but world enough and time,” he says (1). He wants them to enjoy the pleasures in life of being young. While they have the time, he tells her, “We would sit down, and think which way/ [t]o walk, and pass our long love’s day” (3-4). For someone to be so obsessed with time makes one think that the person does not know how to live and enjoy life. To obsess over time is to worry all of his time away. This is the reason the speaker feels that he has to rush things with the young woman he likes, so he tries everything to persuade her.
The speaker tells the young woman how much he loves her. Again, he applies time to his love for her. He tells her that he would lover her “ten years before the Flood” (8). He goes on to express his love for her body parts by telling her how many years he would love her for each; “An hundred years should go to praise/ Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze” (13-14) and “Two hundred to adore each breast/ But thirty thousand to the rest” (15-16). Although his love for her is great, it still grow for her. He says, “My vegetable love should grow/ Vaster than empires” (11-12). Even though it seems that he is taking things slowly wh...
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...r at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power” (38-40).
This young man is overconfident in himself. He believes that he can get this girl into bed with him by saying something harsh alongside something with a sweeter tone to it. He does this when he tells her,
“Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life” (41-44).
Here it seems that he is trying to tell her that if they have sex, then they will worry less and make their lives much better. The “pleasures” from their sleeping together will make their lives less rough.
The speaker is trying to make it seem as if time is their enemy in this poem. He tells this young woman that time is running out for them and that the only way to make the most of the time is for them to have sex as soon as possible.
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