Andrew Marvell: "To His Coy Mistress", Poetry explication

Essay by pierce1394High School, 12th gradeA+, January 2006

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Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" is succinctly vulgar. His witty and eloquent speeches may seem impressive, however they bear a tone of frustration and vulgar lust. From this, it is evident that the speaker has failed several times before at winning the lady's love, and therefore, is using eclectic methods and techniques to convince the mistress: the carpe diem tradition.

Marvell's usage of lofty figurative languages and allusions in the first stanza resembles a petrarchan sonnet where it embellishes the idea of love with the linguistic art. However, when followed by the second and the last stanza which are antagonistic in their sense, feeling, tone, and intention, the elaborate and eloquent speeches descent into the realm of vulgarity because the contrast reveals the true and cunning purpose of the speaker. In the first stanza, the speaker establishes a premise, and based on the premise, he praises the lady's "state."

Whether or not the speaker's intention is honest or superficial, most 17th century mistresses, I assume, would have appreciated the poetry until they reached the second stanza. A beautiful allusion to Bible and to the Christian tradition can be found in lines 9 to 11. The "Flood" refers to Noah's flood; it symbolizes the beginning of time because from Christian perspective, the Noah's flood was the purification and the rebirth of human race from sins. "The conversions of the Jews" may sound a little anti-Semitic because "according to the Christian belief, the Jews were to be converted to Christianity just before the Last Judgement," and despite the issue, the allusion indicates the end of time. The speaker would willingly love her without any approval or response for eternity. In addition, the speaker hyperbolically adores the each sections of the mistress's body and sets a period of time of adoration per...