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“To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell

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Introduction

Name: Mehmet Tuncer Stimulus: "To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell First Draft: 27/09/2001 Final Draft: 26/03/2002 Type: Poetry Analysis Andrew Marvell in his poem, "To His Coy Mistress" stresses the temporality of youth. With cleverly tooled literary devices, Marvell creates a powerful and playful love poem in "To His Coy Mistress." He unites elements of form, rhetoric, and imagery into a subtle argument with which the speaker in the poem also attempts to seduce a reluctant lady. To assist the argument, Marvell breaks the poem into three parts. He presents one set of ideas, then argues against them, and then presents a second set of ideas. In the opening part of the poem stress how he wishes his love to be, and in this case it is tranquil and drawn out. Instead of beginning the poem with the concept of death, he opens it with the lines, "Had we but world enough, and time / This coyness, lady, were no crime". He proceeds to outline what he would do out of love for his lady if they were both much longer-lived, mentioning such lengths of time as centuries and ages. Then he opposes this idea, because they will not live so long - "yonder all before us lie / Deserts of vast eternity" - and so the premise of the foregoing argument is false. ...read more.

Middle

The speaker's vocabulary shifts as his argument goes through the three phases that make up the three sections of the poem. When the reader tries to understand the position of the listener, the poem's occasionally difficult language becomes simpler to understand. The speaker's diction changes, depending on whether he is trying to appeal to his lover, to flatter her, or to persuade her. Initially, the speaker's words are meant to impress his lover, so the speaker implies to world geography. He also flatters her by placing her in an exotic location (the Indian Ganges) while he remains in England (Humber). The speaker's use of numbers in this section of the poem demonstrates a shift in the speaker's objective: He now wants to flatter more than impress. Consequently, his numbers only increase, until finally it requires "an age . . . to every part". In this second section of the poem, the speaker reveals his awareness of time's 'encroachment'. He chooses language that might appeal to the listener's emotions rather than her intellect. These words are much more physical than the distant, abstract language of the first two sections. In the final, the speaker's diction returns to the style of the first section, and he chooses words that are more playful than those in the second section. ...read more.

Conclusion

Each of the first four lines contains alliteration: "We"/"world" (1), "coyness"/"crime" (2), "we would"/"which way" (3), "long"/"love's" (4). This alliteration adds to the speaker's playfulness and the poem's beauty in the sections in which he is trying to woo his lover. As at its beginning, the end of the poem's first section contains a lot of alliteration. "Thirty thousand" (16) and "should show" (18) are unusual sounds, repeated for emphasis of playfulness. During the middle section there are no alliterations. However, the speaker returns to it at the end therefore, ending the poem with a flourish. "Thus" and "though, "sun"/"Stand still," and "we will" are alliterations that conclude the poem. Also I think the alliterations aim to impress the listener. I think, Marvell tries to drag the reader into a passiveness and peace, which he wants to see in love. Because, he uses several techniques in doing this, it becomes relevantly easy to say that 'death is coming, so we should love someone'. Marvell states that a method of fighting time is to love with passion not considering age. If this were a seduction poem, what kind of woman would be successfully wooed like this? I think, she must be stupid really clever. However, I think Andrew Marvell, addresses this poem to a very clever lady, who is a worthy and active partner in intellect, in conversation and in bed. ...read more.

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