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To His Coy Mistress

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To His Coy Mistress The poem was written in the seventeenth century, by Andrew Marvell, to his mistress. It was intended to persuade her to have sex with him. It uses a formal style, and is phrased elaborately. Three sections make up this piece, and I will analyse them one by one before turning to the overall impression. It is a very personal poem, addressed to one person only - this is the impression i get from reading it. The first section is the thesis. He says he loves her, loves her truly, will worship her forever if needs be and if they were as immortal as their love there would be no problem:- 'Had we but world enough, and time, this coyness, lady, were no crime.' This statement tells her that her shyness is at fault. Implied is the sense that they are stuck in their own small worlds, with a short life ahead of them. The suggestion of an enclosed world, although it is never made obvious, becomes important later. Her 'crime' of being coy places him as the victim, the plaintiff, and as such gives her a sense of guilt. ...read more.


The eternity that lies in front of them is a desert, barren and arid, with none of the earthly pleasures they should or could be enjoying now. He uses language cleverly, with assonance and alliteration to emphasize his point. When they are dead he cannot sing to her, and she will not hear his entreaties. 'Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound my echoing song' This repetition of syllables and sounds gives an impression of a lovesong sounding hollow in a tomb. Death levels everything. All her reasons for staying chaste and virginial now crumble into nothing when seen from the perspective of eternity. No matter how hard she tries to stay pure, the worms will eat her; after her mind is gone, what price her 'quaint honour'? He uses the phrase: 'And your quaint honour turn to dust, and into ashes all my lust', recalling the funeral ceremony 'ashes to ashes, dust to dust'. He does not assault these virtues, but rather says that whatever they mean to her now, they will mean nothing when she is forgotten. He finishes by saying that : 'The grave is a fine and private place, but none, I think, do there embrace.' ...read more.


In the end they can burst through the gates of life, having enjoyed their limited time to the full. 'Thus, though we cannot make our sun stand still, we can make him run.' Although they cannot stop time, they can make the time fly by in a daze of love. This can be summed up in the latin phrase 'Carpe Diem' - seize the day. A lot of time has obviously been spent on this. The flattery at the beginning and end would make the woman appreciate it and look more kindly on him, even if the argument did not convince her. I think the way that to begin with he finds there isn't enough time, and later he wants the time to fly by, is inconsistent and lessens the impression. He plays on a common human fear of death that only the most devout can overcome - although a religious theme running through this perhaps implies the recipient is religious herself, in which case this would have to be a masterpiece of rhetoric to convince her to have sex before marriage. If she was wavering on whether to have sex with him, I think this might convince her - if she was simply shy or too modest. If she had her own reasons, these complicated arguments might as well be ignored. ...read more.

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