When I was given the assignment of analyzing love poems, I expected to be reading slushy love rhymes about how much someone loves someone else; love at first sight, young love, marriage, the list is endless. However the poems I was given to read were very different to most people’s ideas of love poetry. They were about pain and breakups, accidental outcomes of a relationship, use and abuse, these things are not usually related with love.
The poems I chose were ‘To His Coy Mistress’ by Andrew Marvell a pre 1900 poem and ‘Our Love Now’ by Martyn Lowery which is a modern poem.
‘To His Coy Mistress’ is a long, personal and flattering poem all at once. The layout is like a love letter, and makes the reader think that this man is trying to persuade his lover and has really taken time to think of something meaningful to say. He uses imagery to charm her, believing her to be coy- shy modest. He uses the image of skin as sexy. He also makes crude but flattering remarks and shows her that she is, in a way, in control of the situation.
‘Our Love Now’ is made up of alternate statements made by two people about their failing relationship. The man has a rather more hopeful attitude towards their relationship, looking to the future to find healing for whatever has happened, whilst the woman is less hopeful, focusing on the ‘now’, the present, and taking a less positive view of the future. The person ‘I’ who speaks first tries to convince his partner that although their relationship has been damaged, time will repair it. ‘Observe how the wound heals in time’
‘Our Love Now’, the male speaker introduces each of his arguments with an instructional word like ‘observe’, ‘remember’ or ‘listen’, however the woman begins all her arguments mostly with ‘although’ and then stating her view. The first line of each stanza is either ‘I said’ or ‘she said’. This helps to show which voice is speaking.
The woman however, says that all damage leaves scars behind – things can never go back to their original state. ‘There is always a scar, a constant reminder.’ At the end of the poem she says that their love is dead. The language of this poem uses metaphors to describe the damage done to their relationship.
‘To His Coy Mistress’, the poem is split into three parts the first part is saying if he had all the time in the world he would do… and he lists all the things he would do and how long he would spend on each part of her ‘ Two hundred to adore each breast: but thirty thousand to the rest.’ And he speaks of things that would never happen there is a lot of use of hyperbole and everything is a reference of time.
In the second part of the poem he is saying how he doesn’t have all the time in the world and there is a sense of urgency: ‘But at my back I always hear Time’s winged chariot hurrying near’
Using personification, he creates a romantic picture of time flying. He then builds on this idea by thinking about the effect of time.
He scares her with horrific images to try to get the point across that time doesn’t stop if she doesn’t sleep with him now worms taking her virginity. ‘Worms shall try that long-preserved virginity.’ There is a comparison is between a worm and a man. The man is forcing his mistress to think about the fact that what she fears will happen anyway but it will be the result of her death. This is persuasion through fear.
The third part he is summing up that what he has said is logical and must happen, he knows he can’t stop time but they should make time run. ‘Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.’
Unlike the horrific language which is used in the second part of ‘To His Coy Mistress’. The male voice in ‘Our Love Now’ chooses the pleasant image of a new hairstyle to describe the nature of the change in the relationship.
In both poems there is a form of a pattern. ‘To His Coy Mistress’ the pattern is rhyming couplets at the end of every line the first two lines were ‘Had we but world enough, and time this coyness lady were no crime’ The pattern continued throughout the whole poem. It creates the effect of continuity.
‘Our Love Now’ however, is a different type of pattern; it is not a poetic pattern but a structural pattern. Everything the man says the woman replies with a negative view. The poem is a complete contrast. ‘Listen to how the raging storm damages the trees outside. The storm is frightening but it will soon be gone.’ ‘Although the storm is temporary and soon passes it leaves damage in it’s wake which can never be repaired.’
One of the similarities of the two poems is the theme of persuasion. ‘To His Coy Mistress’ the man is using flattery to persuade what we assume to be his wife to sleep with him. ‘Our Love Now’ is also the man persuading the women, but the man is trying to persuade the women to come back to him and forget what happened. ‘Our Love Now’ is not as crude as ‘To His Coy Mistress’.
Their use of persuasion is very different ‘To His Coy Mistress’ a lot of hyperbole is used and things that would never happen like ‘I would love you ten years before the flood’ which is impossible because the biblical flood happened centuries ago. A major difference between them is that.
‘Our Love Now’ presents both the male and female side of an argument but ‘To His Coy Mistress’ we only get the male side. ‘To His Coy Mistress’ the whole poem flattery, the poet is telling his mistress how much time he would like to spend loving her and how devoted he is to her. Whereas ‘Our Love Now ‘is like an argument, but they don’t speak to each other.
I prefer ‘Our Love Now’ because the language is easier to understand. ‘To His Coy Mistress’ is quite a strange poem and is a bit over exaggerated. I like the way that our love now shows both points of view. However I didn’t really like these types of love poems I would not have classed them as love poetry.