Poetry Analysis: Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress”
The poem ‘To His Coy Mistress’ is written by Andrew Marvell, which revolves around a man who is trying to coax his lover to step out of her shyness and give herself into her bodily desires for him. His intentions are obvious with the way he addresses her throughout the poem, calling her shyness a “crime” that hinders their relationship from turning in to a sexual one; which the speaker desperately wants and justifies by using the fact that one has a very short amount of time in this world (1-2). He is trying to seduce her by telling her that time in this world is not enough for him to worship and adore her body:
A hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest; (13-16)
The poem also gives great insight into the nature of the speaker as well. From the beginning, the speaker has made no real attempt to conceal his true feelings or intentions. He wants a sexual relationship with the woman, but he is running out of patience with her. Throughout the poem, the tone of the speaker oscillates between seriousness and playfulness. He is serious about his desires for the woman, but his words are often satirical and he even teases her by telling her all the outrageous things he wants to do with and to her.
One minute the speaker is philosophizing on the transience of this youth, human beings and the world in general, whereas the next minute, he tells his lover that this is exactly why they need to make haste and consummate their love. He deems that their love for each other is contending against time, which is a destroyer of all beautiful things for an individual. He invokes his lover to cast her fears and virgin sensibilities aside and then come with him, rolling “…up into a single ball” (42) and enjoy the bounty of the union that is waiting for them.
Marvell, Andrew. “To His Coy Mistress”. The Oxford Book of English Verse. Ed. Christopher Ricks. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.