To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell
Andrew Marvell is often described as being a metaphysical poet (using images and word play to express complex ideas and feelings) as so much of his poetry deals with ideas of existence and truth. His poetry is also humorous, often using satire to attack or mock others. His poems are often centred on wealthier people, that is, those at court - high up enough in society to be around the monarch and those in power. Subject:
The speaker of the poem is trying to convince his "mistress" that they should seize the day and not hold back from expressing their feelings for each other, and so should sleep together. The fact that this is something he is proposing tells us the couple are not married. Structure and language
The poem has three sections. In the first stanza the ideal courtship is presented, with extravagant references to the care and devotion with which the speaker would "woo" his lover "had we but time". The second stanza makes it clear that they have not got time, and that death is not only inevitable but imminent. The final stanza proposes that they fight against the progression of time and seek pleasure while they are able. The poem is written in rhyming couplets, a popular format in rhyming poetry.
In the first stanza there are humorously exaggerated references to traditional romantic ideas. He speaks of spending "An hundred years" to "praise/Thine eyes" and "Two hundred to adore each breast". This is all undermined by the poem's opening words: "Had we but world enough and time". He is presenting a courtship which may sound wonderful, but is one he states from the outset is impossible. Persuasively he tells his lover "you deserve this state", even though he knows it is all an exaggerated fantasy. Images of death and decay are used in the second stanza to show the lover the pointlessness of resisting. Once dead "then worms shall try/That long preserved virginity". This disgusting...
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