Comparison of To His Coy Mistress and The Ruined Maid
'To His Coy Mistress' is written by Andrew Marvell in the 17th
Century. Marvell was one of the so-called metaphysical poets - a term
of mild literary abuse coined by Dr. Johnson. 'The Ruined Maid' was
written by Thomas Hardy in 1866. It is important to analyse the theme,
language, tone, characters and style of both poems in order to compare
and contrast them.
'To His Coy Mistress' is a lyric of seduction. It is about a young man
who tries to persuade a young girl to have sex with him. It seems that
he has made an attempt but fails, because the girl is unwilling to
yield her virginity.
The poem is an example of a carpe diem poem - 'carpe diem' is Latin
for 'seize the day'. The man expresses his sadness at the thought of
swiftly passing time and the shortness of life. He wants to persuade
the girl to grab the time that they have.
The poem splits up into three sections with different moods. The first
section contains lots of flatteries. Marvell has already expressed the
main point of this poem at the first two lines, 'Had we but world
enough and time, this coyness, Lady, were no crime.' He is saying that
if there is time, he can wait. He understands the young girl's modesty
and she wants to keep her virginity. The poem is lustful as the man
keeps on flattering the girl; he says that he could operate within the
confines of conventional courtship and devote appropriate time to
worship of her. 'Two hundred to adore each breast'. He assured her
that she deserves the most elaborate courtship imaginable - 'For lady,
you deserve this state'. He will spend lots of time waiting for her;
if there is 'time'.
However, the second section begins with a huge 'BUT'. Marvell points
out that there is no time. 'But at my back I always hear/ Time's
winged chariot hurrying near.' In this section is logic, as he
realises time passes, they don't have time. He reminds her that people
will die and decay. Just like the paradox of time with his 'vegetable'
love. Time means growth but also decay. There is a sort of sadness in
this section. He tells her that when she gets old, her 'beauty' will
fade, and then he will not chase her anymore. There is no point to
keep her 'virginity' till death. The grave is an image of
decomposition. No one will have fun in the grave and when people die,
they will just return to 'dust' and 'ashes' - an echo of the funeral
service, "Dust to dust, ashes to ashes."
In the last section, he gives his solution and his conclusion. He is
persuading her again to have sex with him eagerly - 'Now let us sport
us while we may'. While they are still young, let's grab the time and
do what we can before life decays. Here, it refers to 'carpe diem'-
seize the day.
This poem rhymes in couplets- 'time/ crime'; 'way/ nday'. There is
lots of hyperbole in the poem. Marvell writes about the flood which
refers to Noah's story belonging to Genesis in Bible....