Andrew Marvell

a brilliant English poet, satirist, and politician

His Marvelous Life

  • born on March 31, 1621
  • grew up in the Yorkshire town of Hull, England
  • his father was a reverand
  • at 12, he studied at Trinity College in Cambridge
  • 4 years later, 2 of his poems were published
  • recieved his bachelor's degree in 1639
  • in the 1650's he worked as a tutor
  • in 1657 he was appointed John Milton's Latin secretary
  • in 1660 he was elected to Parliament (will serve for 18 years)
  • traveled to Holland, Russia, Denmark, Spain, and Sweden
  • died on August 16, 1678 in London from a fever

Interesting Facts

  • 3 years after his death, his works were published in Miscellaneous Poems
  • Mary Marvell wrote the preface of the book and was not actually his wife
  • a metaphysical poet
  • not a puritan, experienced some Catholicism in his youth
  • wrote satrirical poems criticing Parliament and Cromwellian government
  • rumor that the Jesuits (targets of Marvell's work) poisoned him
  • he bailed John Milton out of jail

To His Coy Mistress Poem

Andrew Marvell - 'To His Coy Mistress' - poem

To His Coy Mistress Text

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 Shouldst 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 conversion of the Jews. My vegetable love should grow Vaster than empires, and more slow; An hundred years should go to praise Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze; Two hundred to adore each breast; But thirty 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. But at my back I always hear Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near; And yonder all before us lie Deserts of vast eternity. Thy beauty shall no more be found, Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound My echoing song: then worms shall try That long preserved virginity, And your quaint honour turn to dust, And into ashes all my lust: The grave’s a fine and private place, But none, I think, do there embrace. Now therefore, while the youthful hue Sits on thy skin like morning dew, And while thy willing soul transpires At every pore with instant fires, Now let us sport us while we may, And now, like amorous birds of prey, Rather at once our time devour Than languish in his slow-chapt power. Let us roll all our strength and all Our sweetness up into one ball, And tear our pleasures with rough strife Thorough the iron gates of life: Thus, though we cannot make our sun Stand still, yet we will make him run.

poem summary

Lines 1-2: topic of his argument (time and sex)- you can’t stop time, but you can change places with it (sex allows them to pursue time, instead of time pursuing them)

Lines 3-13: what he would do with eternity if he had all the time in the world to wait for the woman to make her decision about losing her virginity

Lines 14-20: a flattering examination of her body

Lines 21-32: a discussion on the nature of death and how it would affect their relationship Lines 33-46: returns to opening statement

Literary Devices and Techniques

-Rhyme and Meter- written in a couplet each with a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables while each couplet has the same number of syllables

-Allusion

  • "ten years before the flood"- story of Noah
  • "till the conversion of the Jews"- rejection of Jesus as Messiah
  • "time's winged chariot"- Apollo
-Hyperbole- "an hundred years" and "thirty thousand to rest"

-Simile- "the youthful hue sits on thy skin like morning dew"

-Alliteration- "love and lower"

-Metaphor

  • "And while thy willing Soul transpires At every pore with instant Fires"- heat of desire
  • "my vegetable love"- slow growing love over time
  • "time's winged chariot"- power, speed, and inevitability of time, he wants to be hasty
  • "marble vault"- the death of his beautiful lady and her grave
-Imagery- many images of time and space
  • Indian Ganges' to Humber
  • dessert and sky
  • sun
literary database article

Bruce E. Miller discuses the “faulty logic” in “To His Coy Mistress.” Miller claims that the argument is presented as illogical because Marvell does not actually support the speaker.

Song- Marvin Gaye by Charlie Puth ft. Meghan Trainor

Marvin Gaye Lyrics by Charlie Puth feat. Meghan Trainor

works cited

Miller, Bruce E. "Logic in Marvell’s ‘To His Coy Mistress’." North Dakota Quarterly 30.2 (1962): 48-49. Rpt. in Poetry Criticism. Ed. Lawrence J. Trudeau. Vol. 144. Detroit: Gale, 2013. Literature Resource Center. Web. 18 Feb. 2016. http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CH1420115582&v=2.1&u=bato83364&it=r&p=LitRC&sw=w&asid=6edf6f44e8fabcb80e5938173b675efc


Poets.org. Academy of American Poets. Web. 17 Feb. 2016. <https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/his-coy-mistress>.


"PostPoems Be Artistic. Be Creative. Be Inspired!" Analysis of Andrew Marvell's Poem "To His Coy Mistress". Web. 19 Feb. 2016. <http://www.postpoems.org/authors/cynosure/poem/906050>.


Shmoop Editorial Team. "To His Coy Mistress." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 17 Feb. 2016. <http://www.shmoop.com/to-his-coy-mistress/>.