Andrew Marvell: Poems

Carpe Diem: Wooing Lovers during the Renaissance (A Close Reading of Poetry) College

Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” and Andrew Marvell’s “To his Coy Mistress” offer powerful examples of sensual, carpe diem Renaissance poetry. In both poems, the poet-speakers attempt to spur their beloveds into action through various compliments and rhythmic patterns that create a hurried tone. However, the speakers’ tactics diverge at this point. Marlowe’s poet-speaker focuses on an abstract pastoralist hypothetical peppered with innuendo in an attempt to gain his love’s affections. In contrast, Marvell’s speaker takes a much more explicit and logical approach as he bemoans the consequences of their delayed union and urges his lover to waste no time in consummating their relationship. Ultimately, both poet-speakers focus on carpe diem as a tool to persuade their perspective lovers.            

Marlowe’s poet-speaker, the shepherd, sets the poem’s sensuous and rushed tone in the first two lines, saying “Come live with me and by my love / and we will all the pleasures prove” (1-2). Within these lines, the shepherd uses the imperative tense to show the direness of...

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