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To His Coy Mistress.

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Introduction

To His Coy Mistress - Essay Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" is a poem that explores the idea of love, and the moralities and perceptions associated with it. Following the theme of "Carpe Diem", or 'seize the moment', the poem is a dramatic monologue in which the speaker is addressing his mistress, and attempting to seduce her. The title itself is an early indication of the lines 'To a Coy Mistress' is going to take; the "To" immediately implies a direct address, where a man is addressing his "coy mistress", while "coy" means shy, with connotations of sexual modesty. This gives rise to the possibility that the poem might follow the tradition of "Carpe Diem", coming from the angle of seduction. The poet demonstrates a variety of techniques and opinions throughout the text to engage the reader's interest, and it is how successful he has been in achieving this aim that I intend to investigate. One particular aspect of the poem which is unusual in a love' poem, is the very structured way in which the verses are ordered. At the beginning of each verse, the first line is an instant guide to which stage the speaker's argument is entering. The first verse begins with the creation of a hypothetical situation, arguing that in such circumstance, the position adopted by the speaker's mistress would be quite acceptable "Had we but..." Then in the next verse, the arguments against; "But". Then to conclude the whole argument, "Now, therefore". Considering that this a 'love' poem, or at least one in which sex and seduction are paramount, it is unusual that the poem follows such a strict structure - love is traditionally thought of as illogical, unexplainable - not something to be logically debated over, point by point. ...read more.

Middle

It is inevitable that with the passing of time, people grow older, and eventually die. Having impressed upon his mistress just how rapidly age and death come to all, the speaker now uses highly emotive language to bring out his vision - or version - of what death, and the events that follow after it. He uses highly emotive language to bring out the barrenness of death, by comparing it to "deserts of vast eternity" - nothing growing, nothing living, was how deserts were seen. Death, as a barren, endless expanse, forever stretching onwards. There are even possible overtones of the Egyptian belief that after death the spirits must walk through a desert, and overcome dangers and the prospect of eternal damnation, to find their way to the heavens - the desert of the lost? The idea of death as a cold, empty kind of half-existence is brought out by references to "marble vault", cold, bare and empty, save for slowly crumbling bones, nothing to interrupt a sound as it reverberates, "echoing", around the chamber; a shell. Almost a claustrophobic feel, the idea of being trapped inside a slab of marble, with only fading echoes... The speaker now introduces more of his own personal opinions as to the ultimate pointlessness of human desires and ideals by some truly horrible images; the references to "worms" crawling through his mistress' corpse, who "try that long preserved virginity". He is once again raising the point that once she is dead, then worms will crawl through her decomposing body, devouring her remains without compunction, making homes in her dry bones. If worms are eventually going to penetrate her much-hoarded virginity, then the speaker is 'proving' that it is a pointless effort. ...read more.

Conclusion

Slight tending towards the hypocritical there - not to mention the realism, or not of the situation, in which the woman is portrayed as having easily changeable opinions, strongly influenced by those around her. And if the speaker or poet meant the idea of 'Carpe Diem' to be held in wider significance than the situation in the poem, then why not other factors too? There is also the secondary issue that I believe that while everyone has the right to free speech and their own opinion - so kind of me to allow everyone that, I know - I do not like it when people abuse that gift to force their opinions onto others, rather than trying to influence them. Yes, I know that it is a dangerously thin line between logically setting out an argument - as indeed the speaker did in the poem - and actively manipulating emotions to make people more susceptible to having opinions thrust onto them. But there is still a difference, in my opinion. I am aware that when people agree with an opinion, then they are more likely to appreciate what is being said by the speaker, and I personally do not fully believe in what the speaker in "To His Coy Mistress" was saying, so am probably less likely to empathise with the poem. I still think it a very skilful piece of writing, and partially successful in covering the concepts and ideals of love - albeit from a very one sided perspective. Either way, it combines in a poem which certainly covers the concept of 'Carpe Diem from the perspective of love, and has the ability to capture the reader's interest - if only because they disagree with what is being said. 2915 words... 1 ...read more.

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