To His Coy Mistress - Andrew Marvell

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  • To His Coy Mistress
    • Context
      • His poetry deals with existence and truth.
      • Defintion: Intellectual, use of conceits, incongruous imagery, complexity and thought, use of paradox and tightened expression.
      • Written by Andrew Marvell who is metaphysical poet
      • His poems are centred on wealthier people.
    • Structure
      • The first stanza makes extravagant references to care and devotion; "woo" his lover "had we but time".
        • The second stanza - Marvell states that they have no time together. The message that death is inevitable highlights Marvell's philosophical and complex thinking.
        • The third stanza combats the second stanza's negativity. It proposes that they fight against time and cherish each moment they have together.
          • Reference to the "sun" links to "The Sun Rising".
          • "Let us roll all our strength and all Our sweetness up into one ball" links with "This bed thy centre is, these walls thy sphere". Both have a sense of large, positive energy. Definitely undertones of sensuality.
      • 3 sections
      • Poem is written in rhyming couplets.
    • Language
      • 1ST STANZA
        • Indian Ganges river is named after a Hindu goddess called Ganga.
        • The beginning stanza is humorous as declares that he loves her "ten years before the flood". His aim is to have sex with her as time is running out quickly.
        • The speaker knows that it is an "exaggerated fantasy".
        • Carpe Diem - seizing the day and life, but also slightly self-centred.
      • 2ND STANZA
        • Once dead "then worms shall try/That long preserved virginity". The speaker tries to make her lose her virginity instead of wasting it for the worms. Instead, he is selfish and only wants to benefit from it.
        • "Quaint honour"
          • Reference to her reserving her virginity even though death is inevitable - "turn to dust".
          • "Quaint" was a euphemism during 16th century for vagina. This links with the idea of her body.
        • Images of death and decay - "turn to dust", "Ashes", "Grave's a fine and private place".
        • Christian burial: "dust" and "ashes" reminds the woman that life is transient, so it is pointless waiting.
      • 3RD STANZA
        • Sense of urgency and passion.
        • SIMILE -"while the youthful hue/Sits on thy skin like morning dew"
          • "Dew" disappears quickly, much like her youthful appearance.
        • "like amorous birds of prey"
          • Animalistic and can't contain his desires. Links to "instant fires" - burning desires which cannot wait till death.


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