Sex in Poetry
Although Marvell s To His Coy Mistress and Marlowe s The Passionate Shepherd to His Love share many similarities and differences, both men have one basic purpose for their poems, to talk the women into being their loves using promises of beautiful and mostly unattainable things.
Andrew Marvell s To His Coy Mistress is one of the era s most famous expressions of the carpe diem motif. The speaker attempts to persuade his mistress into having sex with him. The speaker seems very frustrated, impatient, and presents a sense of urgency in pursuing this goal. Marvell hints towards this eagerness as he talks about time being devoured when he says, Now let us sport us while we may, / And now, like amorous birds of prey, / Rather at once our time devour / Than languish in his slow-chapped power. (Lines 38-40) When analyzed carefully the poem can be broken into three sections, each with a different meaning. The first section refers to his extreme commitment to her, while the second focuses more on lust and the loss of it with death, and the final section concentrates on intercourse itself. The speaker tries to win over the mistress using verbal skills. He does this hoping that she will accept the relationship on his terms.
In Christopher Marlowe s The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, the speaker uses nature to describe his feelings for a nymph and how he will create a happy life for her. In the opening lines of the poem the speaker ask the nymph to Come live with me
and be my love (line 1). This begins the poem on a more serious note. The speaker loves this woman and wants to spend is life with her. He then proceeds to bribe the girl with the finest gifts. The shepherd says he shall dance and sing / For thy delight each May morning, (Lines 1-2) which is an example of how happy he would be if she were to accept him.
These two poems definitely have one obvious similarity, love. Both the poems are written for an individual lady by the speaker. The men use there most charming words in hope to persuade the women, although what they say may not always be true. While both the poems are based on love, the two poets have different ideas in mind. The speaker in The Passionate Shepherd to His Love wants the nymph to live with him for eternity and be his love, where the speaker in To His Coy Mistress is mainly concerned with having the woman sleep in his bed. Also in Marlowe s poem the woman has a bit of a say so, because the speaker is in a way asking for her acceptance, where in Marvell s poem the speaker doesn t make it seem as if he cares what the woman thinks. Both speakers promise to love the women eternally
Both writers use figurative language quite effectively to add to the intensity of the poem. While Christopher Marlowe promises more material things that most people know are not possible for a shepherd to obtain. Perhaps the best example is when he tells her he will not have to work, as if the sheep will tend to themselves. He promises her a
her ten years before the flood (line 8). He also promises to love her one hundred years to adore her eyes when he says, An hundred years should go to praise / Thine
eyes (Lines 13-14). In lines fifteen through sixteen he offers Two hundred to adore each breast; / But thirty thousand to the rest. Once again referring to time and trying to hurry the woman he says, But, at my back, I always hear / Time s winged chariot hurrying near (Lines 21-22).
While both these poems are indeed love poems, they are very different. While Christopher Marlowe s poem is a more heart felt poem expressing love to a woman, and trying to win her over, Andrew Marvell most likely does not love this woman that much. He tells her he loves her but at the same time speaks as though he only is interested in sex. However, both men give a noteworthy effort to win over the women using bribes, and trickery of sorts.