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Andrew Marvel was a famous poet of the seventeenth-century, who wrote the poem, To His Coy Mistress. The main theme of the poem stresses that life is short and the speaker endeavors to entreat a young lady called a virgin. The poem advances to locate the critical argument between the man and the mistress. The later section of the poem sheds light on the unusual bold image of sterility, tombs, a denial of the activity of sex and rotting corpses. Meanwhile, it is essential to conduct a critical analysis of the poem and the life of the writer. A wide range of themes as beauty, time, passion and love and death dominate the structure of the poem.
To evaluate the poem, it is significant to assess it stanza by stanza. It comprises of 10 stanzas of 5 lines each. In the first stanza, the very theme of the poem is discussed as time wastes life. People should advance and look for ways to cherish life. The speaker presents the argument to the listener where the woman refrains from reciprocating the sentiments of love CITATION Byr28 \p 16 \l 1033 (Byrne 16). Considering that time lasts forever, the stanza highlights the leisurely pace and events of life donated for the appreciation of the beloved. In the second stanza, an incredible hyperbole is utilized which extends until the fourth stanza. The primary purpose of the hyperbole is to mention the praise for the mistress. The speaker explains the time period necessary to love the mistress and the time required by her to shun him. Here, the events of the end of the world are triggered as the great flood which is used by God to cleanse the earth. These intense comparisons emphasize the tremendous amount of time required to define and convey the love for the mistress by the speaker in true letter and spirit.
In the third stanza, the speaker allocates a specific time period for the praise of the mistress which is at least a generation. A definite time is allocated to glorify different body parts of the mistress. For instance, 200 years for her breasts, 100 for her face and 30,000 to the rest of the body. This style of writing is notable for its originality and excessiveness. The fourth stanza is the end of the first section of the time after which a transition takes place. A monetary metaphor is utilized by the speaker in the ending stanza. The rate of love is described specifically as the interest rate charged by banks for lending cash. It is an incredible association of the beauty of the mistress with lavish praise. The fifth stanza witnesses the logical shift in the poem from exaggeration to images of the grave. The element of death enters the poem. The speaker provides the persuasive reason in an attempt to make the mistress give in. In the sixth stanza, the loss of charm and beauty is discussed, especially relevant to the mistress. Time and death have the potential to destroy the beauty which love can never escape. The speaker also refers to the biblical “phrases ashes to ashes, dust to dust” to indicate the passionate and thriving lust being diminished, similar to the virginity of the mistress.
The seventh stanza concludes the section II and advances on section III to utilize irony by praising the grave as a private place CITATION And781 \p 14 \l 1033 (Marvell, To His Coy Mistress 14). The lust of the youth is exemplified here and mood verbs are used to give commands and directions to the mistress. In the eighth stanza, severe images are described as a source of expression. The bird of prey is a simile which is certainly an unexpected choice to be included in a love poem. The comparison between the lover and the mistress of the bird who wants to eat appears bizarre. In the second last stanza, the metaphor of a cannonball is used to describe the sweetness and strength that is accumulated into energy which tears through restraints. A juxtaposition of strife with pleasures highlights the vicious breakthrough of the speaker’s argument over the mistress. The concluding stanza involves the triumph of the speaker and his mistress to defeat time instead of becoming a prey to it. Both of them stood in front of the sun instead of begging for time. Throughout the poem, time is an essential issue. Besides, love and passion also dominate the theme of the poem. The speaker declares his love and proposes in an immaculate manner through metaphors, hyperboles and juxtapositions.
Marvell's writing and life were connected with the dramatic state of affairs. He was not only a poet but also a public servant, political satirist, author and an elected politician. In 1657, Marvell got his very first public appointment to become the Latin secretary to the Council of State by becoming the assistant to Milton. In the period of restoration (1660-1688), Marvell was proactive in public affairs and was traveling as a crucial diplomat CITATION And \p 15 \l 1033 (Epstein 15). A wide range of verse was written to target the corrupt church, monarch and the supporting individual freedom. He died abruptly of a fever on 16th August 1678. Several people believed he never married but the housekeeper claimed to be her wife after his death. To His Coy Mistress is deemed the best poem reflecting the conflicting ideas or values held in confusion as mortality, love, innocence, body, solitude and experience.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Byrne, Sandie. "ANDREW MARVELL (1621-1678)." (1928): 16.
Epstein, Andrew D. "ANDREW MARVELL (1621-1678)." (n.d.): 15.
Marvell, Andrew. To His Coy Mistress. 1678.
—. "To His Coy Mistress." (1678): 14.
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