To His Coy Mistress Tpsfastt
English and Literature
Submitted By shawnjzlee
“To His Coy Mistress” TPS-FASTT | Title | The title “To His Coy Mistress” implies that the speaker is talking to his mistress who is reserved and modest. The subject of the poem is towards the speaker’s mistress. | Paraphrase | In Andrew Marvell’s poem “To His Coy Mistress,” the speaker is talking to his mistress throughout the poem. In the first stanza, the speaker tells his mistress that if there were more time, her coyness would not be a crime and that he would be able to compliment and admire her if they had to time to sit down, think where they would walk, and their love would grow slowly but vastly. Furthermore, the speaker also states that if he had more time, he would focus on each part of his mistress’s body for hundreds of years until he had gotten to her heart. In the next stanza, the speaker states that they do not have time, since life is short and death is forever. He states that eventually, beauty will no longer exist due to aging and when she is dead, she will not be able to hear the speaker’s song when inside her coffin. Furthermore, the speaker states that the worms will try to take her virginity and will result in his no longer feeling love for his mistress. In the last two lines of the stanza, he comments that a grave is a nice and private place but does not have much room to be together and embrace. In the last stanza, the speaker once again compliments his mistress’s beauty and youth and that they should embrace just like the birds of prey and play games. In the last few lines, the speaker states that time cannot stop even though he wants to have more time; however, time gains the speaker pleasure with his mistress. | Speaker | The speaker of the poem is an anonymous male who speaks about his mistress extremely highly. He feels as if he has a lack of time and that time is a trap to the speaker. Ironically, the speaker needs time in order to gain pleasure with his mistress. He wishes to be with his mistress very much and had all the time in the world to be with her. | Figurative Language | Allusion | “I would / Love you ten years before the Flood, And you should, if you please, refuse / Till the conversion of the Jews.” (7-10). The speaker states that he would go back in time to “ten years before the Flood” (7) and forward in time to “the conversion of the Jews” (10) in loving his mistress. He uses Biblical events to describe love in a more divine term and as a result, emphasizes the glorifying of the one that he loves. Furthermore, it continues the theme of time and his belief that if there were more time, he would be able to back and forth between long periods of time to love her. | | (Extended) Metaphor | “We would sit down…and think which way / To walk…My vegetable love should grow / Vaster than empires, and more slow…And the last age should show your heart. / For, lady, you deserve this state, Nor would I love at lower rate” (3, 11-12, 18-20). Throughout the first stanza, multiple words are used to define motion and time. In the third line, “sit[ting] down” is a way for which the speaker describes stillness and the halting of time. This comparison of time and motion is extended later in the poem as the speaker’s “vegetable love should grow / Vaster…and more slow” (11-12) to convey a speeding up of time since the beginning of the poem and further emphasizes the speaker’s attention and want for something timeless. At the end of the first stanza, his wanting for her to “show [her] heart and [him not] lov[ing] at lower rate” (18, 20) is a metaphor to a faster motion and the gradual increase in time from the beginning of the stanza to the end of the stanza. The “heart” metaphor is also extended with “at lower rate” (20), which conveys another motion and possibly a price of having her heart. “Thus, though we cannot make our sun / Stand still, yet we will make him run” (45-46).At the end of the poem, the sun is used to metaphorically to compare to time. The speaker states that although he and his mistress are unable to make time or stop time, they will be able to keep going together. It brings irony in his belief of time “stand[ing] still” (45) since he gains pleasure through time but feels that he does not have enough time to admire his mistress and that time is a trap for him. | | Personification | “But at my back I always hear / Time’s winged chariot hurrying near” (21-22).“This, though we cannot make our sun / Stand still, yet we will make him run” (45-46). Time is personified as a driver of the winged chariot that chases the speaker. It emphasizes the speaker’s belief that time is continuously keeping up with the speaker and that he is unable to have enough time to be with his lady. Since time is an abstraction, the speaker states that “time’s winged chariot [is] hurrying near” (22) in order to personify something that abstract and the speaker’s trying to stay away from it. At the end of the poem, the “sun” that the speaker and his lady can “make him run” (46) also conveys the same idea where the concept of the speaker to personify an abstract idea to keep it away from them is emphasized. | Attitude(Tone) | Admiration | “An hundred years should go to praise / Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze; / Two hundred to adore each breast, / But thirty thousand to the rest; / An age at least to every part, / And the last age should show your heart.” (13-18).Throughout the poem, the speaker creates a sense of admiration towards his lady and his wish to admire her if he had the time to do so. He states that “an hundred years should go to praise” (13) and that the other “thousand to the rest” (16) to emphasize his devotion towards the subject of the poem. | Shifts | “For, lady, you deserve this state, / Nor would I love at lower rate. / But at my back I always hear / Time’s winged chariot hurrying near; / And yonder all before us lie / Deserts of vast eternity” (19-24). Between the first and second stanza, the speaker shifts in his tone from one of desire and want to one of pessimism and reason. Because the speaker believes his “lady…deserve[s] this state, / Nor would [he] love at lower rate” (19-20), he is afraid that time would eventually “hurry near” (21) and her death would allow him to love her anymore because there is no space in the grave to be with her. In the shift, the speaker goes from a fantasy to reality and to give reason for his devotion towards the lady.“The grave’s a fine and private place, / But none, I think, do there embrace. / Now therefore, while the youthful hue / Sits on thy skin like morning dew” (31-34).Between the second and last stanza, the speaker transitions from a realistic attitude back to an admiring tone towards his subject. After stating his reason why they should be together because “none, do there embrace” and that death is approaching due to progression of time, he believes he is persuasive and able to have her “show [her] heart” (18) for the speaker. He organizes the poem into three parts, a feeling of desire, his reason for the desire, and an end-result because of the reason and his feelings. | Title | The title is a subject heading of the poem that the speaker gives to his mistress. In order to tell her his devotion and his reasons to be with her, the poem compares a sense of the lack of time with his love. It conveys a complicated relationship and communication between the speaker and the reserved mistress that he wants to be with. | Theme | Time | Time is the most prominent theme in the poem as the speaker wants to go against and stop for his lady. He believes that time is a trap to the speaker. However, the irony is that he also needs time to progress in order to gain pleasure in life. As a result, he personifies and depicts time as a villain towards their relationship and life itself. | 1. Vocabulary: coy (title), Humber (7), transpires (35). "Mistress" (title) has the now archaic meaning of sweetheart; "slow-chapped" (40) derives from chap, meaning jaw.
Coy – Timid, modest, reserved
Humber – An estuary in Northeastern England
Transpires – To give off through pores of the skin
2. What is the speaker urging his sweetheart to do? Why is she being "coy"?
The speaker is urging his mistress to live life to its fullest, and in the moment. He is trying to get her to have sex with him by employing the "we could die tomorrow" argument, resulting in her being “coy,” being reserved because she may not be feeling the same way.
3. Outline the speaker's argument in the three sentences that begin with the words If, But, and Therefore. Is the argument valid?
The speaker argues that time (death) could come whenever, its "winged chariot" at his back already. He mentions that the dead do not embrace, and therefore he and his mistress should take advantage of their youth.
4. Explain the appropriateness of "vegetable love" (11). What simile in the third section contrasts with it and how? What image in the third section contrasts with the distance between the Ganges and the Humber? Of what would the speaker be "complaining" by the Humber (7)?
The use of “vegetable love” when compared to the second stanza, which is a contrast the decomposition by the worms in the grave. Both seem like a slow process; both involve dirt (in usual burials). This is contrasted in the third stanza, when the mistress’s youth "sits on [...] skin like morning dew." One image, vegetables, draws images of roots and dirt, the other conjures up images of youth and freshness. Furthermore, in the third stanza, the image of the speaker and his sweetheart curling up into one ball contrasts the distance of the Ganges and Humber, next to which the speaker might be complaining about his sweetheart's distance or her coyness.
5. Explain the figures in lines 22, 24, and 40 and their implications.
Time is the most prominent theme in the poem as the speaker wants to go against and stop for his lady. He believes that time is a trap to the speaker. However, the irony is that he also needs time to progress in order to gain pleasure in life. As a result, he personifies and depicts time as a villain towards their relationship and life itself.
6. Explain the last two lines. For what is "sun" a metonymy?
The sun is a metonymy for time and, therefore, death, which approaches with the passing of time. The speaker argues that, if he and his mistress cannot avoid death, they should live life to the fullest and force death to catch up to them.
7. Is this poem principally about love or about time? If the latter, what might love represent? What philosophy is the poet advancing?
The poem is primarily about time, with love representing youth and its rash decisions. The poet is advancing the idea of living life to the fullest, and not wasting a moment.