„To his Coy Mistress“
As we are all mortal, the only things in life that really matter, are our sexual desires. The mortality of human beings has always been an outstanding topic in metaphysical poetry (Negri: 56). Life fades away after a certain period of time and constrains everyone’s life to a definite period. Nevertheless, this topic does also bring up other questions, concerning this subject. Andrew Marvell’s “To his Coy Mistress” lays emphasis on the fading of beauty and on sexuality. The poem shows the desire of a young man, trying to convince a woman to have sex with him, because her beauty is mortal and therefore they should undress immediately and love each other in a purely physical way. This poem was written in the Commonwealth Period, in which the topic of “carpe diem”, of seizing the day, was central (Chernaik: 101). Marvell picks up this topic, as the speaker of the poem wants his mistress to stop thinking about what is going to happen in future and just enjoy the time they have together at that particular moment. Although the speaker might convince the mistress, his argumentation and style of writing prove his doubtfulness and therefore his words are not persuasive, at all. At first, vocabulary and language that are used throughout the poem, and also the style of writing, show the unconvincing way the speaker tries to persuade the mistress of his wants. The poem starts off with the speaker’s wish to have more time (“Had we but world enough an time”, l. 1), which creates a romantic atmosphere as the reader expects the speaker to continue with the wish to use this time to spend loving hours with his mistress, so that they could share their feelings forever. But continuing at the second line, this wish for eternity suddenly turns into the speaker’s demand that the mistress should stop her coyness, as there is no time for being coquettish. This turn in sense shows the speaker’s real attention, as he is not interested in loving in eternity, but in fact he simply wants to fulfill his physical desires, which actually already shows an anticipating conclusion of the whole poem. The want for sex is much more visible than the romantic love story one could expect as a reader. This message can be found in many passages, focusing on style and use of vocabulary, which stops the poem from being convincing. Another example follows right away in lines three and four: Again the speaker refers to the first line and seems to complain that if they had enough time for it, they would simply enjoy their love with each other. But actually, the way how it is presented, creates a feeling as if the speaker is not actually looking forward to this situation, because he uses the expression “walk and pass our long love’s life” (l. 4), which sounds as if he just wants to walk past it like an illness, which you have to sit out, but nevertheless it is very unpleasant. The awkward use of language can also be seen later on in the poem (l. 13-18) when he praises her beauty and counts the years for how long he will love her.
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,
The striking point is that he is telling to love not only her body, but also her heart, which seems to disprove his purely physical interest at first sight, but nevertheless, as he mentions her heart at least (“And the last age should show your heart”, l. 18), shows his actual interest. It seems as if he only mentions her heart because he thinks she might want to hear it. But actually, if he was really in love with her, he would possibly refer to her heart at first and not give over thirty thousand years to her body and only the last year to her heart. Finally, his whole writing style proofs his sexual desires. If he was burning for his mistress, he would probably not have to write a...