To His Coy Mistress Essay: Imagery, Symbolism, and Descriptions

To His Coy Mistress Essay: Imagery, Symbolism, and Descriptions

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Imagery, Symbolism, and Descriptions in To His Coy Mistress


Andrew Marvell in his poem describes a young man convincing his fair mistress to release herself to living in the here and now.  He does this by splitting the poem up into three radically different stanzas.  The first takes ample time to describe great feelings of love for a young lady, and how he wishes he could show it.  The idea of time is developed early but not fully.  The second stanza is then used to show how time is rapidly progressing in ways such as the fading of beauty and death.  The third stanza presses the question to the young mistress; will she give herself to the young man and to life?  Although each stanza uses different images, they all convey the same theme of living life to the fullest and not letting time pass is seen throughout. Marvell uses imagery, symbolism, and wonderful descriptions throughout the poem.  Each stanza is effective and flows easily.  Rhyming couplets are seen at the ends of every line, which helps the poem read smoothly. 

            Marvell uses many images that work as tools to express how he wishes to love his mistress in the first stanza of the poem.  From line 1 to 20 Marvell tells his mistress how he wishes he had all the time in the world to love her.  In the very first line Marvell brings up the focus of time, “Had we but world enough and time/This coyness, lady, were no crime”.  The second line shows the conflict that the author is facing in the poem, her coyness.  Marvell continues from these initial lines to tell his mistress what he would do if he had enough time.  In lines, three and four Marvell talks of “sitting down” to “think” where they will walk on their “long love’s day”.  All of these word...


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... before their “quaint honor turns to dust”.

            Andrew Marvell successfully writes about a delicate subject without coming off as dirty or disrespectful to the subject of sexuality.  Each stanza carries a different way of looking at the same subject.  The way Marvell speaks in the first stanza shows that he is not being impetuous, that he does love his mistress.  He creates a sense of timelessness and then in the second stanza he sweeps that away and introduces death as frightening but unavoidable.  He realizes how precious time is and is very effective in convincing his mistress of this fact as well.  The last lines leave the reader with the image of this couple conquering and taking advantage of time by making the sun run.  This poem would not be what it is without the detailed imagery, symbolism, and metaphors that Marvell applied to each stanza.   

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