Literature Paper on The Poem To His Coy Mistress

Literature Paper on The Poem To His Coy Mistress

This poem embodies the poet’s plea to his mistress, who seems to respond sluggishly to his sexual appeals. In the initial stanza, the poet elucidates the ways he would love the lady were they not held back by the limitations of natural life. He could then have centuries to keep her company and admire her, so that even resistance to his appeals would not result in dismay (de Mendoza Ibáñez and Gómez 241-260). As the poem progresses, he expresses grief in the brief nature of a normal lifespan. The poet affirms that the moment life ends, the time to take pleasure in their love for each other runs out, as there is no beauty in death. As the poem ends, he asserts that loving each other with passion will ensure that they take the best advantage of the short time that life offers. With respect to feminist criticism, the poem expresses prevalent social and psychological repression of females by making them seem like simple objects of sexual pleasure.

“To His Coy Mistress” appears to be a poem that adheres to the conventional principles of poetry, which seek to seize the day, making most of the present and forgoing constant deliberation about the future. The application of intricate and indistinct metaphors in the poem diffuses the identified ideas. Moreover, it heightens the notion of satire and misleads the readers due to the existence of seemingly unsuitable and clashing imagery. The poem paints an ironic account of sexual enticement, and it is evident that it does not present a sober and serious disposition. In its place, the first stanza appears to present an impulsive lamentation with the affirmation that “Had we but world enough, and time, this coyness, lady, were no crime” (Marvell stanza 1). Moreover, the subsequent stanzas present a swift shift into imagery that entails death, a vault, and worms where the metaphor illustrates a pragmatic and terrifying death that awaits them as a means of traumatizing the lady into submission. There is a sense of urgency to the appeal, particularly attributed by the shocking equivalence of lovers with “amorous birds of prey”.

Marvell’s excellent poem acts as a solemn and light, impressive personal persuasion since it is responsive to the satisfaction of the flesh as it is to the end of life. Through the representation of unreserved feelings and overwhelming urge, the poem articulates the earnest desire of all lovers, the need for it to never end. Marvell skillfully reflects a feeling of grandeur and elegance by the use imagery and comparison (such as vegetable) and the closely knit coherent rationality displayed through the sections in the entire poem. This tinges the poem with a feeling of courageous action. It is evident that the poem becomes sullied as it nears its end, with the time-fancy shifting into unpleasant extents of decay, where worms depict only one of the culpable parties. Amusingly and shockingly, the poet encourages the imitation of birds of prey that gulp down their food hastily. In affirmation he writes, “Let us roll all our strength and all our sweetness up into one ball” (Marvell stanza 3). Not only does the ball imply the holistic happiness imbibed from the act of copulation, it also acts as a plea that embodies the unpitying resolve to succeed.

The poem states that sexual pleasure is expensive, since it has to be torn away or snatched away with violent strife. The imagery surrounding sexual pleasure has little to do with jests regarding virginity and much more to do with the grievous and practical realities of problems in life, like labor pains, and parturition. This comprehension amidst the murkiness in the poem is what makes it great. To convince the lady, her pursuer uses the idea of time running out swiftly and them approaching demise, which means that they will have forfeited irrecoverable pleasure (Cousins 392-396). Upon passing away the lady’s body will become dust, and in that state there will be no person to love her. In this regard, the pursuer implies that the best time to enjoy life is now, when they are youthful and the flames of passion are glowing.

The poem is philosophical, blended with the sentiments of love. It showcases excellent lyrical quality, a striking style. The idea of sexual love has been articulated in an exceedingly intellectual manner. The poet cunningly asserts that since life is filled with struggles, youth offers the best chance of enjoying love and affection. The poet has remarkably presented a magnificent poem that has been written in a first person perspective, though with a third person assumption in the title. The poem employs a patriarchal depiction through greatly overstated metaphors that the pursuer uses to entice the lady. He takes advantage of his verbal prowess and the perceived weakness of the lady in a bid to deceive and sleep with her. It seems as though he is bragging to show that he can win both the lady’s mind and body in a skillful flaunt of masculine mastery.


Works Cited

Cousins, Dan. “The Replication and Critique of Libertinism in Andrew Marvell’s ‘To His Coy Mistress’.” Renaissance Studies, vol. 28, no. 3, 2014, pp. 392-404.

De Mendoza Ibáñez, Ruiz, and María Gómez. “Time and Cognition in Marvell’s “To his Coy Mistress”.” Cognitive Semantics, vol. 1, no. 2, 2015, pp. 241-260.

Marvell, Andrew. “To His Coy Mistress.” Poetry Foundation, Accessed 28 Dec. 2016.