Analysis of To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell
Andrew Marvell's elaborate sixteenth century carpe diem poem, 'To His Coy Mistress', not only speaks to his coy mistress, but also to the reader. Marvell's suggests to his coy mistress that time is inevitably rapidly progressing and for this he wishes for her to reciprocate his desires and to initiate a sexual relationship. Marvell simultaneously suggests to the reader that he or she should act upon their desires as well, to hesitate no longer and seize the moment before time, and ultimately life, expires. Marvell makes use of allusion, metaphor, and grand imagery in order to convey a mood of majestic endurance and innovatively explicate the carpe diem motif.
To show the passage of time in his poem, Marvell makes reference to past and future events on a grand scale. His allusions to religious scripture early on in the poem give the impression of vast ages passing, spanning most of time itself. He says:
Love you ten years before the Flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews. (7-10)
The period ten years before the flood, which occurs in Genesis some time after creation, until the conversion of the Jews crosses a massive amount of time. This allusion is one of the several techniques Marvell uses to turn the focus away from impending death to an ideal world without it. These amplifications imply that under normal circumstances the speaker would wait many years until his mistress became ready for their relationship. Marvell also uses the image of the flood to evoke visualizations of a new life within a new covenant.
The reader can almost visualize the deep love the narrator bestows upon his mistress through the intense imagery. For example, the speaker suggests that his ?vegetable love? should be allowed to grow and become immense and ripe, analogous to his actual love for her. His love is so great it would, ?grow vaster than empires? (11-12). Although Marvell tries to equate his love for his mistress to plants, his argument is undermined by a plant?s biological incapableness of contemplation and reciprocal physical affection. Nevertheless, the speaker continues his praises of love, but points out that there is not enough time for further praise because time is passing quickly.
The poem then acquires a more serious tone when the poem loses its exaggerations and embellishments. He...