Analyzing To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell

Analyzing To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell

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Analyzing To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell

To His Coy Mistress Andrew Marvell

Had we but world enough, and time,

This coyness, Lady, were no crime.

We would sit down and think which way

To walk and pass our long love's day.

Thou by the Indian Ganges' side

Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide

Of Humber would complain. I would

Love you ten years before the Flood,

And you should, if you please, refuse

Till the conversion of the Jews.

My vegetable love should grow

Vaster than empires, and more slow;

An hundred years should go to praise

Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;

Two hundred to adore each breast;

But thirty thousand to the rest;

An age at least to every part,

And the last age should show your heart;

For, Lady, you deserve this state,

Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear

Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near;

And yonder all before us lie

Deserts of vast eternity.

Thy beauty shall no more be found,

Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound

My echoing song: then worms shall try

That long preserved virginity,

And your quaint honour turn to dust,

And into ashes all my lust:

The grave's a fine and private place,

But none, I think, do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue

Sits on thy skin like morning dew,

And while thy willing soul transpires

At every pore with instant fires,

Now let us sport us while we may,

And now, like amorous birds of prey,

Rather at once our time devour

Than languish in his slow-chapt power.

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:

Thus, though we cannot make our sun

Stand still, yet we will make him run.

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The poem I have selected is To His Coy Mistress written by Andrew
Marvell.

In the poem the poet attempts through argument to win over his coy
lady. The poem has a clear intention with the subject and theme both
being time.

To His Coy Mistress is a metaphysical poem, the over all structure is
that of syllogism using logic to present an argument. There are three
stanzas in the poem made up of two propositions and a conclusion.

In the first stanza the subject matter is shown as being time itself,
the first line "Had we but world enough, and time," meaning if we had
unlimited time. The whole of the first stanza is based around the
argument of "had we". Space is introduced early in the first stanza by
using different locations the lady being at the exotic Indian Ganges
and himself at the Humber River which is a normal place for him to be.
I think the extreme distance is used to show how different their
attitudes are, he sees her reluctance as being a crime. Time is again
mentioned as he says he would love her "ten years before the flood"
which is obviously not actual time as the event was too long ago for
either of them to have been present, he also says she may refuse him
"till the conversion of the Jews" again an event that is highly
unlikely to happen making an unmeasurable amount of time both events
are biblical which adds a more serious tone the poem or a least makes
the lady see the argument as more serious. The end of the first stanza
is flattering the lady "an hundred years should go to praise thine
eyes," but not in a straightforward way, it is not realistic and is
conditional upon having all the time in the world. The poet uses the
conditional future - if they had enough time then this is what he
would do and he feels and tells her she deserves that amount of
attention to detail.

The second stanza starts by pointing out that they do not have endless
time as it is "at my back" pushing them forward using "time's winged
chariot" to give time a physical image you can see and hear the
beating wings as well as implying time flies. He looks into the future
and points out that everyone will die, death is universal and the only
place they are heading is the grave, the lady has gone from being very
much alive in the first stanza to being dead in the grave and the only
thing she will have with her is "that long preserved virginity" which
will be taken anyway "worms shall try". Also they will not be together
as "none, I think, there do embrace".

The final stanza is the present starting "now therefore" it is telling
the lady what they should do now while she is young and has her looks
and they are both passionate and in love. He intends to convince her
now that the time is right and she is ready to consummate their
relationship. He argues they should live now, carpe diem - seize the
day. The poem ends saying they should take control and make time wait
for them.

The rhyming scheme is aa, bb, cc, dd, ee etc. It rhymes equally and is
easy to read except for the second stanza where incomplete rhyme is
used - lie with eternity and try with virginity; this makes you take
more notice as it deviates from the standard form used throughout the
rest of the poem. There is a regular beat in the poem; each line
follows an unstressed; stressed - iambic beat. "Had we but world
enough, and time," (de dum de dum de dum de dum) there is a light
sound followed by a heavy sound. The norm for an iambic rhythm is to
have ten syllables in each line but this poem has only eight. The
rhythm is slow in the first stanza but begins to speed up in the
second stanza and is changed by having the stress on the first
syllable "De¤serts¤ of¤ vast¤ e¤ter¤nit¤y." this draws attention to
this particular part of the poem. The final stanza speeds up even more
giving the impression that he is trying to hurry his lady to make a
decision and gives a similar rhythm to the act itself.

Repetition is used in the final stanza the word "now" appears
frequently to reinforce the point the poet is trying to make that the
time is right for both of them. There is also the use of positive
words - youthful hue and morning due the effect is to emphasise images
of passion to the lady in an attempt to make her feel passionate and
give in to his argument.

Bibliography

www.greyowltutor.com/1poetry.html

www.poetrymagic.co.uk
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