Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" is the charming depiction of a
man who has seemingly been working very hard at seducing his mistress.
Owing to Marvell's use of the word "coy," we have a clear picture of
the kind of woman his mistress is. She has been encouraging his
advances to a certain point, but then when he gets too close, she
backs off, and resists those same advances. Evidently, this has been
going on for quite some time, as Marvell now feels it necessary to
broach the topic in this poem.
He begins in the first stanza by gently explaining that his mistress's
coyness would not be a "crime" if there were "world enough, and timeâ€¦"
(l.2). He compares his love to a "vegetable," which means that it
would not stray, but would grow "vaster than empires," and would do so
more slowly (ll. 11-12). He claims that he would happily spend a
hundred years praising her eyes, and gazing at her forehead. When that
is over, he would spend two hundred years on each breast, and spend
"thirty thousand to the rest" (l. 16). He then crowns this romantic
hyperbole with the statement, "[f]or, lady, you deserve this state,
/Nor would I love at a lower rate" (ll. 19-20). These statements serve
to support one of the major themes of the poem: flattery with an aim
toward seduction. He uses such grandiose statements to help his
mistress understand that he truly cares for her enough to spend
hundreds of years simply gazing at her. However, this leads to a
problem, as there is simply not the time available.
This causes Marvell in the second stanza to remind his mistress that
always her hears at his back "[t]ime's wing'ed chariot hurrying near"
(ll. 21-22). This lets her know gently, but in ...
... middle of paper ...
...r Marvell to use this foot, as the poem represents a
conversation. The easy flow of the iamb also helps to make the poem
seem more real, more believable, because we don't have to stretch or
sound strained while reading it. There is a slight change in the foot
pattern in line 33. Marvell begins the line with the word "now" and
places a stress on this syllable. This helps signify that there is a
transition in the conversation, as well as serving to provide a more
forceful conclusion to the poem. Beginning the third stanza with a
stressed syllable gives the entire stanza a feel of more power, even
as it flows back into the easy rhythm of iambs. Iambs also fit with
the tone of the poem, which is one of earnestness, but not anger, or
even frustration. Marvell's tone is one of calm persuasion.
Ultimately, this poem provides a wonderful pattern for living life.
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