“To His Coy Mistress” is a perfect example of a love and Metaphysical poem written by ‘Andrew Marvell’, who was a great English metaphysical poet, satirist, and politician of English Literature. Love, religion, patriotism, and nature were favourite themes of his poetry. Like John Donne’s Marvell’s poetry exhibits all the qualities of metaphysical poetry.
About The Poem
The poem “To His Coy Mistress” is considered one of Marvell’s finest and best-recognized “Carpe diem” poem means to capture the day. The poem was published in 1681, three years after Marvell’s death. The title of the poem “To His Coy Mistress” tells us that the speaker is saying something to his ladylove who is shy. The word ‘Cay’ is used with a specific meaning that the ladylove is not at all responsive to her lover’s call of making love.
Structure Of The Poem
It is 46 lines long poem “To His Coy Mistress” with three sections. The first section consists of 20 lines and speaks of what the lovers would do if they had a limitless life. In the second section of 12 lines, the speaker talks of death and how time would destroy the beloved’s beauty. And the last section consisting of 14 lines conveys the speaker’s urge to his lady to make love before time flies. The speaker addresses his mistress and argues about the need to make love without wasting time. The whole poem is written in iambic tetrameter, each line has 8 syllables.
Analysis Of The Poem
The first Stanza opens dramatically with an argument. The poet tells his lady love ‘The Coy Mistress’ in clear terms and very pointedly that if they could love through eternity, he would as her beauty deserved to spend thousands of years just for the appreciation of her physical beauty. He would spend her one hundred years on her eyes and forehead, two hundred years on each breast, thirty thousand on the rest of the organs of her body. The last age he would spend exploring the beauty that lay in her heart. Obviously, while Marvel lays stresses more on physical charm and the attraction of the flesh, he gives less importance to the heart.
While the first stanza poignantly points out the brevity of life, the second stanza expresses the poet’s awareness of approaching death.
“Time Winged Chariot hurrying near”
The speaker was talking about the possibilities of the extent of love that they could enjoy if they had eternal life in this world. But Alas! It is impossible. He says that he bears the sound of time’s wings as it flies closely behind their back. Time waits for no one. It flies leaving everything behind. He also says that the other world is waiting for us at a distance. Thus the lover reminds his beloved of life’s brevity.
The poet further describes the situation after death. In our destined tomb, our beauty will slowly but surely turn into dust. So the beloved’s beauty will fade as soon as she dies. After mentioning the beloved’s beauty the speaker speaks about the virginity that she has preserved for a long time. After death, the worm would destroy this long-preserved virginity. Thus, we see the speaker trying to make his lady realize that things like beauty and virginity are no use after death.
The last section of “To His Coy Mistress” Poem starts with “Now Therefore”. It means the speaker will now talk about the things they need to do right now before time flies. He says that youth is the best part of life to enjoy. At this time one becomes energetic and passionate. The skin is as fresh as the “Morning Dews”. The speaker here is actually talking about his lady’s erotic desire which he believes he can see in her body so, he suggests that they should indulge in physical lovemaking without wasting time. This is like making hay, while the sun shines.
Poet further says:
“And Now, Like am’rous birds of Prey,
Rather at once out time devour.”
Here the speaker suggests that the two lovers should be like passionate preying birds and eat time before time eats them. He means to say that unless the lovers enjoy their time at their youthful heights, time won’t wait for them and they will slowly suffer the destructing power of time. Life is just an iron gate that doesn’t open easily. It is filled with struggle and resentment. Will all their strength and passion, the lovers will tear the iron gate to get that happiness.
In the last couplet, the poet wants to say that they cannot stop time, but they use it in a way that will leave them victorious.
Thus, the poem “To His Coy Misstress” contains beautiful romantic touches. It has several theme touches. It has several themes including Short Time, Sex, Morality, Freedom, Love, Carpe, Diem, and Confinement. The poem “To His Coy Mistress” explores expressions of a man to a woman with mixed emotions of love and lust. So “To His Cay Mistress” is a great love poem by “Andrew Marvell” in which he spends the poem trying to convince his mistress that she should have sex with him.