To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell

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About the poet:

  • alive during the english civil war
  • oliver cromwell 
  • he was a supporter of oliver cromwell
  • highly intelligent man
  • his father was a vicar 

Themes in his poems:

  • complex
  • metaphysical poet
  • reflect exciting time of exploration of science
  • heightened use of metaphor 
  • rejection of former influences
  • grandiose, far fetched style
  • perfection is an ideal, not a reality
  • 'pleasure is the greatest good', nedonism 'maximising pleasure and minimsing pain' - uses this as a cultural point in the poem

Points on the poem:

  • satrical poem
  • carpe diem is explored - putting as little trust in the future as possible
  • idea of sex outside of marriage


  • fast pace is created through the enjambment, lack of punctuation. this creates a sense of ergency and links to the quickness of time
  • iambic tetrameter - is he cutting structure short to try and suggest out time is short too?
  • rhyming couplets are used 
  • stanza 1 - fantasy
  • stanza 2 - brings us to reality and death and finite life
  • stanza 3- offers a panacea (solution) on how to live and love with a limitied time on earth 


  • a gentleman trying to whoo the lady he loves OR a man attempting to steal a woman's virginity


Had we but world enough, and time,

This coyness, Lady, were no crime,

We would sit down and think which way

To walk and pass our long love's day.

Thou by the Indian Ganges' side

Shoudst rubies find; I by the tide

Of Humber would complain. I would 

Love you ten years before the Flood,

And you should, if you please, refuse

Till the conversation of the Jews.

My vegetable love should grow

Vaster than empires and more slow;

An hundred year should go to praise

Thine eyes and on thhy forehead gaze; 

Two hundred to adore each breast;

But thuty thousand to the rest;

An age at least to every part,

And the last age should show your heart.

For, Lady, you deserve this state,

Nor would I love at lower rate

  • 'had we but world enough, and time' - conditional sentence. already talking about time. her reluctance would be more acceptable is they had infinite time
  • 'no crime' - immoral to behave like this. 
  • 'an hundred year should go to praise' - hyperbole. saterise other men and poets men should adore women. the belief of time is presented. courtly values are mocked
  • punctuation in first two lines slowes us down to emphasis idea of eternity
  • 'coyness' -shyness, very fashionable for a woman to pretend to be shy but she wasnt (flirtatious - pretence).
  • 'loves long day' - metaphor, living life as a day. 
  • 'Ganges' side' - echoes spirit of exploration, places her in an exotic place 
  • 'rubies find' - implies she is precious
  • 'Humber would complain' - humber is a river in egnland, contrasts dramatically to the exotic location he has placed her in. giving her a compliment. 'complain' about them being apart, even if they had infintite


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