“To His Coy Mistress” Poem by Andrew Marvell Report

August 17, 2021 by Essay Writer

“To His Coy Mistress”, by Andrew Marvel, is a beautiful poem revealing the intensive passion of a lover. The Epicurean lust of the lover is conveyed by the poet using several poetic devices. It is also a parody of ideal love. The author enters the subconscious mind of the young man who is urging his lady (it can be any lady) to yield to his lust. The title shows the intolerance of the passionate young man to the lady who is hesitant. A look at the structural and thematic aspects of the poem is the focus of this paper.

The structure of the poem is lyrical, but it has all the qualities of a metaphysical poem. Lines like “We would sit down and think/ which way to walk” shows the use of enjambment. Various images are juxtaposed, like in the poems of Donne. The meter is iambic pentameter, with eight syllables in each line, using heroic couplets. The end of each line is rhymed: first and second, third and fourth, and so on. The author speaks in the first person, though it is the lover who speaks. The passionate tone of the poem moves according to the intensity of the passion.

The literal meaning of the poem is that the passionate man is intolerant of the coyness of the lady. He is ready to wait for thousands of years: “world enough and time”, “there will be time”, etc, he says. The only thing is that he should be able to enjoy her physically. But, the time will not allow. Figuratively he reminds us that life is temporal, though time eternal. Therefore, he justifies his urge to conquer her.

The poet uses several literary devices to strengthen his argument. There are religious references, like “flood”, “Jews”, “conversion”, etc. He uses exotic images like “Ganges”. “Winged chariot” is a Greek mythological reference, to Sun God. The images like “youth”, “dew”, “desert” and “eternity” show how some far-fetched images are used. The emphasis is on the need to seize the opportunity, as time is fleeting. The overall poetic effect is achieved with startling comparisons and contrasts.

The meaning of the poem and the devices used in the poem interact smoothly. The mention of “vegetable love” shows the nature of love. The reproductive aspect of love is cleverly sidelined here. The diction changes as the stages in emotion change. The intense personal feelings are logically developed, with crude and shocking images. This heightens the Epicurean philosophy of the lover. The stress is on “now, therefore”.

The greatest point that emerges in the poem is that if the urgency, “now”, is not realized, the final fate of the lady will be to surrender to the worms in the grave, without having enjoyed the sexual life at all: “But none I think do there embrace”. This phallic implication is the height of the temptation. Therefore, in the poem, this beautiful life is juxtaposed to the disgustful death. The man thinks that the thought of grave should prompt the lady to yield: “Let us roll all our strength and all/ Our sweetness, up into one ball;”

The poet’s refrain comes as a logical result of the lady’s coyness. By waiting the lovers lose their precious joy of life. Youth, like the dew, will drop. Therefore, it is the question of now or never. The lady’s procrastination is balanced with the passionate urge of the lover. And in the process of it, many a metaphysical issue comes under the poet’s scrutiny. The greatness of the poem is in Marvell’s ability to combine all the devices he used with his metaphysical theme. While mocking the ideal love, he brings out the real animal passion of a lover. The belief that love is immortal is ridiculed in the poem by reminding the actual end, the worms eating away the remains.


Marvell, Andrew. “To His Coy Mistress”. Web.

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