To His Coy Mistress

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“TO HIS COY MISTRESS” by Andrew Marvell

THEME: Time, Love and Sex

In his poem the author tries to convey that if there was enough time, he and his beloved could go on courting forever, but times goes by quickly. Therefore, as he wants her to have sex with him, he states that they must squeeze their joys to the present because there is no time to be coy and aloof.

LANGUAGE: Figurative

The poet uses figurative language to add feeling and mood to what he wants to say to his mistress. Many words such as similes, metaphors, and words that demonstrate personification, are used throughout the poem in order to convince this lady to do as we wants.


• 1º and 3º Stanza: Comic
The author compliments her, while being comical and playful to have her trust him, because that way, as she gains more trust, she will accept the fact that she is still honorable because she will have sexual relations with a true love.

• 2º Stanza: Morbid and scared
The speaker is worried about their love and what will happen in the future if they do not share sexual pleasure.


Metric: Dramatic Monologue, Iambic Tetrameter

"To His Coy Mistress" takes the form of a dramatic monologue. The speaker of the poem does all the talking, which makes this a monologue, a speech by a single character. But, because he isn’t just talking to himself, but to another fictional character, the mistress, it’s "dramatic" – hence the term "dramatic monologue."

The poem’s meter is "iambic tetrameter”. An "iamb" is a unit of poetry consisting of two syllables. This unit is also called a "foot." In iambic tetrameter each line has four (tetra) such feet, or eight syllables in total. In each foot, or iamb, or pair of syllables, one syllable is stressed, while the other is not. Notice also that the poem has forty-six lines, or twenty-three pairs of lines. We call these pairs "couplets," and, in the case of "To His Coy Mistress," the two lines that make up each couplet rhyme with each other.


• Hyperbole

"ten years before the flood" and "till the conversion of the Jews"

Here the poet combines hyperbole with allusion to create motion, in this case a sense of rapid movement through time.

"An hundred years should go to praise... / two hundred to each breast; / but thirty thousand to the rest...,"

Here the poet tries to convey that he would spend all this time dedicated to admiring her, and showing her how much he loves her.

• Personification

“Thus, though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run”

The “sun” is a metaphor for “time”. Time is an abstract concept , while the sun is an object we can see. So by giving an abstract concept (time) human characteristics (running), the speaker personifies an abstraction, and we are left with an image of a red-orange clock.

• Metaphor

"and into ashes all my lust: / the grave's a fine and private place, / but none, I think, do there embrace,"

Te poet is suggesting that he respects her moral views, but he asserts that her morals will turn to dust when she dies, like the rest of her physical body.

“An age at least to every part, and the last age should show your heart”

The poet uses "show your heart" as a metaphor for the mistress’s imagined agreement to finally have sex with him.

“My vegetable love should grow, vaster than empires and more slow”

The speaker accuses the mistress of thinking that sex and relationships are something big and serious, like ruling the world (the goal of building an empire).

• Simile

“now therefore, while the youthful hue / sits on thy skin like morning dew …”

The poet compares her body with the morning dew (water that is on the ground early in the morning). By doing this comparison, he states that she is young.

"and now, like amorous birds of prey,..."

This simile draws connections to the poet's waiting for the addressee. He is waiting patiently...
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