Andrew Marvell: Poems

The Logic of Metaphor in Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" 12th Grade

Marvell's “To His Coy Mistress” was written when Cromwell’s Calvinism constrained liberty and free-will, and the poem exemplifies an unconventional assertion of love and sexual propositioning, while validating the request to yield in sexual activity with three “arguments”, structured into stanzas. These segments of the poem consider what would happen if the speaker and his beloved had eternity, the reality of life’s brevity and the potential joy of the sexual union. Marvell employs a range of linguistic-stylistic devices to sustain his central method of sexual imagery. The enhancement of the poem caused by his use of enigmatic metaphors in rhymed couplets within an iambic tetrameter makes us question whether Marvell is condemning deceitful male chauvinism or the coyness of females.

The Petrarchan language used by Marvell fundamentally determines the structure of “To His Coy Mistress,” as the speaker commences the poem by suggesting the consequences of acquiring eternity to pursue their courtship: “Had we but world enough and time, this coyness, lady, were no crime”. By applying hyperbole, metaphor and the conditional tense to this devious speculation he implies that the speaker lacks boundless amounts of time to wait for their...

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