Critical Commentary on 'to His Coy Mistress'

Topics: Metaphysical poets, Poetry, Andrew Marvell Pages: 4 (1574 words) Published: April 23, 2012
Critical Commentary

Andrew Marvell’s ‘To His Coy Mistress’ embodies the male craving for intercourse, as in the poem the narrator tries to convince a woman to have sex with him. The poem is abounded with metaphysical conceits and really depicts the theme of carpe diem. With the exploitation of numerous motifs, compelling imagery and its rhythm, Marvell is able to construct a very influential argument.

Initially, Marvell uses the metaphysical conceit to compliment the woman as a means of persuasion for intercourse. In the first stanza, he claims that he has eternity to spend time courting and admiring his woman. Yet, already in the first line, the poet uses irony with the word ‘had’. This establishes that the lovers will not live eternally; implying that the speaker is aware of this before he begins his flattery. Also, the use of rhythm is becoming more apparent; maintained throughout are rhyming couplets and iambic pentameter, which gives the argument a structure, therefore making it seem more plausible to the woman. Marvell uses a lot of alliteration in the first stanza: ‘we [...] world’ (ll.1), ‘coyness [...] crime’ (ll.2), ‘we would [...] which way’ (ll.3) and ‘long love’s’ (ll.4). By using this technique, his argument seems more appealing to the woman, as it adds light-heartedness to the poem. As well as alliteration, the poet uses exotic imagery to allure his potential companion; he refers to ‘the Indian Ganges’ (ll.5) and ‘Humber’ (ll.7). By presenting images which are more enticing than anything local in England, the poet allures the woman, leading her to believe that if she committed herself to him he will offer her exciting new experiences. The poet later on insists that the woman may refuse to have intercourse with him ‘till the conversion of the Jews’ (ll.10). This again, shows the motif of time and how much he is willing to give to her. Since most Jews never converted to Christianity this emphasises the fact that she has a lot of time to...
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