Essay Example on To His Coy Mistress: Time's Passage & Desires Realized

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  894 Words
Date:  2022-12-27

Andrew Marvell in his poem "To His Coy Mistress" describes a young man with lustful desires trying to convince a young virgin lady into sexual intimacy. The poem is made up of three distinct stanzas, where each stanza shows the authors advance on the mistress. The first stanza of the poem, the author brings up the focus of time and talks about the feelings the man has for the lady it also brings out the speakers postulation of the lady's coyness. The second stanza is set in the future; this is because the author seems to be aware of the passage of time and moment death slowly approaching. In the third stanza, it presents an altogether different approach; it is crucial and is located in the present. The author urges her beloved to be involved in the passionate expression of love. Also, the third stanza exploits the carpe diem motif ('seize the day').

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The speaker stresses the idea of the passing of time and associated physical deterioration as the reason why both he and his beloved should grab the chance and enjoy life while still young. What literary critics seem to ignore so far, is the creative use that Marvell makes of the notion of time to structure his poem thematically, giving a twist to the carpe diem. The poem should not just be read as a matter of "enjoy life while still young," but in terms of subjectively surpassing objective time through the physical manifestation of love (De Mendoza Ibanez et al. 242), we know at some level, we have neither nor time despite the countless tasks with which we are busy

Marvell's poem has been discussed in a metaphysical context and the context of literary and cultural traditions. The metaphorical dimensions of time have been a matter of concern. This research article explores the use of metaphors in marvels poem, which in conjunction with the carpe diem motif, supports the theme of the poem.

The first two stanzas are developed based on one central metaphor of time. Other metaphors have been derived from this one. The third stanza holds several metaphors; this contributes to the distinctive use of carpe diem motif in this poem.

The first metaphor is "time is a resource," this can be used in day to day expressions, e.g., your time is over. This metaphor shows that people conceptualise time as a specific resource, like money. In the first line of the poem, the author expresses worry about the passing of time, and it can be seen in the first two lines "Had we but world enough, and time. This coyness, lady, were no crime." It conveys a feeling of regret over the lady's shyness, which results in a waste of time. It depicts the lady's coyness as a crime. The implication of this is that there is no time for both of them to be engaged in an indefinite courtship

Another metaphor is "time is a changer." There are several instances in the second stanza that depicts this metaphor. "Thy beauty shall no more be found," this shows the wasting away of the lady's beauty. "Nor, in the marble vault, shall sound my echoing song" this statement shows that burial chamber (Marble vault), however spectacular, there will be no songs of love. Time is a changer could take different forms "Time is a devourer" and "Time is a destroyer" (Braekman 529).Worms are the devouring agents of the physical body. The noble attributes that the lady holds in high esteem are worthless; her virginity will be of no value as seen in the verse that says "The worms shall try that long preserved virginity." Her honour will be irrelevant, and her reputation for being chaste will follow the same path as her decaying body.

The third stanza has a cluster of metaphors revolving around Carpe Diem. Since time runs against them, they need to seize the day which is a Carpe Diem motif. The poem also sets the stage for Carpe Diem motif through various metaphors. First, "property is a substance" which indicates the lady's youthful nature, health, and complexion, it is metaphorically seen as a substance that is placed on a lady's skin. Second "a lifetime is a day" which is also mapped to the lady's young age (Reiff 196).

Let us roll all our strengths and all

Our sweetness up into one ball,

And tear our pleasures with rough strife

Through the iron gates of life

This verse pictures the lovers during physical intimacy, the lovers embracing each other to a ball (encircling each other), and can imagine each other through the gates of life which is a metaphor of death. Having life is being in a location; losing life is going out of that location. The lovers while in the act of making love can willingly ignore that death is approaching and as a ball can roll out of life.

Works Cited

De Mendoza Ibanez, Francisco J. Ruiz, and Maria Asuncion Barreras Gomez. "Time and Cognition in Marvell's "To his Coy Mistress"." Cognitive Semantics 1.2 (2015): 241-260. Retrieved from (

Braekman, W. L. "Marvell's Coy Mistress Finding Rubies." English Studies 85.6 (2004): 528-531. Retrieved from (

Reiff, Raychel Haugrud. "Marvell's to his Coy Mistress." The Explicator 60.4 (2002): 196-198.Retrieved from (

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Essay Example on To His Coy Mistress: Time's Passage & Desires Realized. (2022, Dec 27). Retrieved from

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