Words on “To His Coy Mistress”
Either you have sex with me or you die. This is a very strong
statement which, when said, has to get someone’s attention; and that is
wants the undivided attention of this mistress so that he can scare her
time, is the first place Marvell places the characters. And even
though they are very far apart, time still flows by for them both. As
the water flows, this concept begins to hint at the shortness of time,
for them to have sex, the source of new life. He then proceeds to
juxtapositioning of the two views of time enhance his argument and to
convince to accept his offer by telling her of his long-term commitment
for her in the short-term. This flood also symbolizes life in the
fresh start of the new covenant. Because time keeps going, with or
without them, they must be active participants and not just the static
spectator. Otherwise, the fate Marvell relates would become their
Marvell’s vegetable love is rather oxymoronic. Love is not
normally like the uncaring, thoughtless, and noncommunicating plant.
And yet his love is vegetable in that it is not adaptable. She is the
will love her. She is evrerything that supports his love, and if she
is not there, his vegetable could not be supported and would die. His
idea of love seems to just be to say that he loves her for the
possibility that he can share carnal knowledge; however, this is why he
tries to convince her to seize the day. And because of this love he
felt they must take advantage of what time they have.
Next comes the threat of punishment if she happens to continue
down her dark path of stubborn unwillingness to engage with him.
Suddenly the desert is before them and beauty is gone forever. The
her only company. These worms are symbolic of two different ideas.
are also another cyclical representation of time, in that they are part
feed an animal, etc. So he tries scare her and to force her into the
decision to seize the day.
save them. He talks about her youthful hue and the morning (of life /
youth) glow to remind her what she needs to save from the imposing grip
of her grave. He gets very aggressive and speeds up the meter to add
effect and urgency to his pleas. Then he talks about birds of prey,
hurrying, and devouring to really twist the proverbial knife and to
convince her. After adoring her body for ages and wading through
innuendo, he says let us roll all our strength and all our sweetness
into one ball and says he wants to spend the rest of time with her
making the sun run.
Marvell’s methods are unique for his time. The fact that he used death
Washington State University, Marvell’s
during the brief span allotted us (Brians).
Andrew Marvell tries in this carpe diem poem, “To His Coy
Mistress,” to use time and symbols to convince her to seize the day.
He uses the river, the worm and many direct references to time to
express the urgency of the situation. He then says that his love is
vegetable and that this coy mistress is the only one that can sustain
this living love. Then he threatens death, gets aggressive, and shows
her that her youth is fleeting, and that if she does not change, she
will be miserable.
Brians, Paul. “Study Guide for Classic English Love Poems,” Paul
Brians’ Homepage. n. pag. On-line. Internet. 3 Sept. 1996. Available: