The main characteristics of a metaphysical poem take account of: dialectic content, drama, dramatic openings and a personal voice; these contrast with a regular rhythm at the start, rhyming couplets, carpe diem, description of women and half rhyme of a traditionally classical poem. ‘To His Coy Mistress’ contains a combination of these traits. Metaphysical poems tend to be related to experience, especially in the areas of love, romance and man’s relationship with God – the eternal perspective.
Marvell uses dialectic which is the use of an argument to construct a case and persuade
A classical characteristic notable in ‘To His Coy Mistress’ is the rhyming pattern. The poem begins with a regular pattern, rhyming ‘time’ with ‘crime’. Throughout the poem, there are multiple rhyming couplets, ‘part’, ‘heart’ and ‘place’, ’embrace’. However, there are obliterations to this trend, where initially the lines appear to rhyme, but on closer examination, they do not, for example, ‘Try,’ ‘Virginity.
Carpe diem (an attitude of seize the day)
Metaphysical poems are lyric poems. They are brief but intense meditations, characterized by striking use of wit, irony and wordplay. Beneath the formal structure (of rhyme, metre and stanza) is the underlying (and often hardly less formal) structure of the poem’s argument. Note that there may be two (or more) kinds of argument in a poem. In To His Coy Mistress the explicit argument (Marvell’s request that the coy lady yield to his passion) is a stalking horse for the more serious argument about the transitoriness of pleasure. The outward levity conceals (barely) a deep seriousness of intent. You would be able to show how this theme of carpe diem (“seize the day”) is made clear in the third section of the poem.
Reflections on love or God should not be too hard for you. Writing about a poet’s technique is more challenging but will please any examiner. Giving some time to each (where the task invites this), while ending on technique would be ideal.code der
In Marvell we find the pretence of passion (in To His Coy Mistress) used as a peg on which to hang serious reflections on the brevity of happiness
Eternity and man’s life in the context of this, is the explicit subject of all of Vaughan’s poems in the selection, but is considered by Herbert in The Flower and, in a wholly secular manner, by Marvell in To His Coy Mistress
To His Coy Mistress – the light and the serious arguments in one; the structure “Had we …” “But …” “Now therefore.
Vaughan uses imagery almost exclusively from the natural world which is apprehended with a delight notably absent from his perception of most other people. The clue to this lies in The Retreate where Vaughan notes that “shadows of eternity” were seen by him in natural phenomena such as clouds or flowers. These images are readily understood and beautiful as with the flown bird and the star liberated from the Tomb. With Marvell, imagery is more problematic. Unlike Donne who scatters metaphors freely, Marvell is more selective and sparing. Very often the image is more memorable and striking than the idea it expresses, as with the “deserts of vast eternity”, while frequently one finds an idea which cannot be understood except as the image in which Marvell expresses it, as with the “green thought in a green shade”. In any case, with all of these poets, the use of metaphor serves, and is subordinate to, the total argument.
As in other respects, Marvell exhibits more variety here. We find the second person in To His Coy Mistress. When Donne does this, we can believe, even though his own thoughts are what we learn, that an intimate address to a real woman is intended (in, say, The Good-Morrow, The Anniversarie and, even, A Valediction Forbidding Mourning). But the “Coy Mistress” is conspicuously absent – a mere pretext for Marvell to examine his real subjects – time and the brevity of human happiness. Heidegger denied mariana’s realism idea.
Marvell in all of these poems writes with lucidity and wit yet there is often an element of detachment –
In many of Marvell’s poems we find the same eight-syllable iambic line, yet its effect can vary remarkably. In To His Coy Mistress the vigorousness of the argument appears in the breathless lines – few are end-stopped, and the lines have the rough power of speech
Analysis of ‘To His Coy Mistress’ by Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)
Marvell’s playful entanglements of sex and condescension are conspicuous in his metaphysical poem. He achieves this by using overwrought similes outsized metaphors and hyperboles for example, ‘an hundred years’, ‘like amorous birds of prey’ and ‘vegetable love.’ He uses these techniques to enrich meanings and to express how strong his sexual feelings are for his mistress the speaker’s “mistress” that signifies she is a lady to whom courtesy and courtly convention and erotic longing attribute is conveyed giving her a superordinate status in the poem. It demonstrates the power to command through using powerful language. The word ‘coy’ used in the title is strategically withholding. She is imagined by the reader as capable of calculation and of extracting erotic compliment at a high ‘rate.’ ‘Coyness’ in Marvell’s era, might have been used to represent mere reticence, the implication would be that it would take a very innocent lady indeed to gaze into the mirror of Marvell’s poem and to see herself figured as unaffectedly shy.
Marvell’s uses the third person ‘His’ in his title of the poem and doesn’t use ‘my’ suggesting that he may not want to make the poem personal to himself. He may be writing this poem for other men that have a ‘coy mistress’ because he might think that they will be coming across these problems too. However, the body of the poem is written in the first and second person suggesting that his love addresses his lady directly.
In his first verse, he says ‘Had we but world and time’, which suggests that he is setting up a condition and then taking everything back before giving it. The use of ‘would’ in line 3 shows his lavish forms of courtship that he ‘would’ but will not be happy to perform. The alliteration of ‘long love’ and repetition of elongated vowel sounds like ‘o’ helps the rhythm of the poem to flow more smoothly and gives the poem a soft romantic touch.
Marvell shows his intelligence by referring to exotic places for instance the ‘Indian Ganges’ in his poem. He also uses biblical references like ‘before the flood’, which is supposed to represent the idea of Noah’s Ark and how a big storm came causing a ‘flood’ and animals dieing. These hyperboles that he uses which also include phrases like ‘an hundred years,’ ‘two hundred,’ and ‘thirty thousand,’ is so that he can exaggerate his feelings and emotions.
Metaphors used like ‘winged chariot’ and ‘vegetable love’ helps to expand the meaning and clarify his feeling and emotions that he has for his mistress. The idea of ‘vegetable love’ denotes the meaning about the ancient division of souls that they were vegetative, sensitive and rational.
Compare and contrast ‘To His Coy Mistress’ by Andrew Marvell with ‘The Sun Rising’ by John Donne
Both poems that I am studying were both written in the era of metaphysical poetry (1590 – 1670). The idea of this style was that of exploring ideas through intricate and startling images. The themes of metaphysical poems are usually that of religion, love or wordplay. Metaphysical poems tend to have underlying themes, often written with the use of conceits and metaphorical contexts. Both ‘The Sun Rising’ and ‘To His Coy Mistress’ are love poems. They show their feelings for a loved one in different ways, blending their own style, complex images and exceptional language into their writing.
‘To His Coy Mistress’ can be seen as a slightly more belligerent poem when compared with the more relaxing ‘The Rising Sun. Andrew Marvell wrote the poem to persuade his young love, or ‘coy mistress’ that they needed to expand and take their relationship to a new level. This can be seen through the structure in which he writes the poem. He has three stanzas, using ‘If’ ‘But’ and ‘Therefore’ in each. This brings across a more argumentative poem in comparison to the conventional love styling of ‘The Rising Sun’.
The ‘If’ in the first stanza, informs us of what the lovers would do if they had all the time in the world, ‘had we but world enough and time’. By saying, ‘Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side should’st rubies find’, the poet creates a vivid image of beauty and exoticness. He cleverly mentioned rubies, a relatively rare and beautiful stone, it captures the deep shade of their love, captured within the stone for eternity. ‘The Sun Rising’ uses Indian images in a more sensual manner, ‘whether both th’Indias of spice and mine’
‘The Sun Rising’ describes two lovers being awakened by the rising sun, to which the lover is justly perturbed. He portrays this by saying, ‘Busy old fool, unruly sun’, letting out his frustration on the unwelcome intruder. Donne takes this idea and then expands on it, ‘saucy, pedantic wretch’, showing the sun is being rude for intruding on their privacy. Even though he does want the sun to leave them alone, ‘I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink’, he does not want to lose the beautiful sight of lover, ‘but I would not lose her sight so long’. In the last stanza the man begins to accept the sun, there is a mutual agreement between the two. ‘Since thy duties be to warm the world…shine here to us and thou art everywhere’. He sees the sun as just doing his job and that it could not help but intrude on the lovers, as its radiant light shines everywhere.
‘My vegetable love should grow’, uses a conceit to show time in a metaphorical sense. These words create an image of slow growing, tendered love that is always alive. His forever love can be portrayed through the hyperbole, ‘vaster than empires and more slow’. Empires are seen to be strong, so he uses his love and compares its greatness to an empire. ‘The Rising Sun’, uses measures that are far more natural in order to portray the continuation if time. ‘Love all alike, no season knows nor clime, nor hours, days, months which are the rags of time’. Donne uses this to suggest when you are in love; time flows by quickly, often with no meaning. This would suggest two different types of love within these poems. ‘The Sun Rising’ shows people experiencing true love, their inability to leave one another. However, those in ‘To His Coy Mistress’ would suggest there is a one-way desire, as their meetings do not seem to be fully appreciated.
‘Two hundred years to adore each breast; but thirty thousand for the rest; an age at least to every part, and the last age should show your heart’. This shows a mistaken love between the two, instead of mentioning her breasts, the lover, if it was true love, would have mentioned her heart to start with. This shows a sexual attraction, desire, towards his lover rather than of true love
Andrew Marvell uses the hyperbole, ‘before us lies deserts of vast eternity’. This tells us the love is never ending like a vast desert. This could mean the couple’s love is too vague, open or lost in the timeless horizon. This is a contrast to the relationship of the lovers in ‘The Rising Sun’. The reward of their love can be seen through the words, ‘thou sun art half as happy as we are’. These soft, loving words are then pursued by ones of dark and morbid images. ‘Then worms shall try that long preserved virginity’. This is saying the worms have more chance of touching her body before he does. ‘The graves a fine and private place, but none do there embrace’. This shows their relationship is fading; they must embrace before it is too late. This is a contrast to the ideas from ‘The Rising Sun’. They lover sees the bed ‘as thy centre’. This shows that his lover is the centre of his universe.
The final section of Marvell’s poem uses much harsher and aggressive language than the rest of his poem. Words such as ‘devour’, ‘tear’, and ‘rough strife’ add to the aggressiveness of ‘like amorous birds of prey’. These images are all callous and hostile and add another twist to his poem.
From reading these two poems and then contrasting them, I have come to a conclusion. I see ‘The Rising Sun’ by John Donne as two lovers who experience true love, as they cannot bear to be apart from one another. However, the lovers in ‘To His Coy Mistress’ seem to just be experiencing lust for on another. Their time together does not seem to be enjoyed, waited out in order to get something worthwhile in the end.