17th Century Seduction Poems Are Relevant in the 21st Century

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During the 17th century, certain poets wrote poems with the specific purpose of persuading a woman to have sexual intercourse with them. Three of these seduction poems utilize several strategies to do this: Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress," and Donne's "A Valediction: Forbidden Mourning" and "The Flea." Some of the reasoning used by both poets is similar to the reasoning used today by men to convince women to have sexual intercourse with them. These gimmicks vary from poem to poem but coincide with modern day rationalization. The tactics used in 17th century seduction poems are relevant and similar to the seduction tactics used in the 21st century. Through his writing, Andrew Marvell uses several strategies to get a woman to sleep with him. In his seduction poem, "To His Coy Mistress," Marvell first presents a problem and then offers his solution to the problem. Marvell sets up a situation in which he and his lover are on opposite sides of the world: "Thou by the Indian Ganges' side/ Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide/ Of Humber would complain…." (5-7). He has set up a circumstance in which his lover is in India and he is in England; however, this situation can be interpreted as a metaphor for sexual distance. Marvell then goes on to profess his love for this woman, telling her that he will always love her, saying "...I would/ Love you ten years before the flood" (7-8) and saying that his "vegetable love should grow/ Vaster than empires and more slow" (11). This suggests that he is promising permanence in their relationship. In doing so, Marvell is also trying to pacify his lady's fears of sexual relations. He wants his lover to feel secure and confident about having intercourse with him. In the second stanza, Marvell turns his attention to another "problem" that his lover might pose by not sleeping with him. He writes, "But at my back I always hear/ Times winged chariot hurrying near" (21-22). Marvell is concerned about death in this situation. He is now pleading to his woman because he feels threatened by time. He tells her that time is running out and that they had better sleep together before it is too late. Marvell solidifies this argument a few lines later by presenting the idea of death and the fact that they can not have sexual intercourse once they are dead. He writes, "The grave's a fine and private place/ But none, I think, do there embrace" (31-32). This time, Marvell is trying to scare his woman into having intercourse with him. If she truly believes that she might die a virgin, she will be more apt to sleep with him after hearing this well-made point. In the final stanza of the poem, Marvell presents a solution to all the predicaments he had previously mentioned. "While the youthful hue/ Sits on thy skin like morning dew/ And while thy willing soul transpires…" (33-35), he writes, proposing that while they are both young and willing, they should have sex. He then suggests the type of sexual activity they participate in: "Let us roll all our strength and all/ Our sweetness into one ball" (41-42) suggesting what is known in modern terms as sixty-nine. Many of the tools Marvell used in his poem "To His Coy Mistress" to seduce women are utilized in this century. First, Marvell's argument that his vegetable love will grow for his woman is comparable to the words that men commonly use today. Men will tell a woman they love her simply to get her in bed. They try to convince their woman that they will always be there to hold and to cherish them, so committing to sex is a profession of that love and will guarantee permanence in the relationship. If a man promises a woman that he will always be around, and shows it, she will trust him. If a woman trusts a man she will be much more likely to sleep with him. Secondly, Marvell brings up the issue of aging, also used today by men to get women in bed. "Life is short" is the modern cliché, and men and women both approach sexual relations...
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