To His Coy Mistress

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Andrew Marvell's poem, ‘To His Coy Mistress’ (hereafter I shall refer to the poem as ‘Mistress’) is a beautifully provocative poem. ‘Mistress’ encompasses many literary techniques including tone, imagery, alliteration, metaphor, irony, enjambment and similes. It is written in iambic tetrameter as a three part proposition to his mistress, and Marvell employs alternative poetic styles (as mentioned previously) to enhance each of the three arguments in the poem. In essence, ‘Mistress’ examines the assertion that after death, morality is of no value. Marvell accentuates the triviality of his mistress being vain during her lifetime, emphasizing that she must do away with all trepidation when it comes to temptation. Like many metaphysical poets of the time Marvell investigates the popular Roman term coined by Quintus Horatius Flaccus (better known as Horace) “carpe diem quam minium credo la postero” (enjoy the present and trust as little as possible to the future ). By seizing the day, she can avoid the regrets of not having taken part in the more adventurous side of life. For people who adhere to the mundane and avoid the more adventurous experiences are doing so at their own detriment especially considering their already brief time here on earth. It is of interest that Marvell also blends into this poem a political/social commentary about King Charles II and it is this that rationalises why this was not published in his lifetime. The three parts to ‘Mistress’ can be identified with the change of tone and pace in the poem. For example ‘Had we but world enough, and time, This coyness, lady, were no crime.” in these two opening lines, Marvell uses punctuation in order to slow down the pace of the poem without interfering with the constant iambic tetrameter throughout the poem. In doing this it reflects the message that time is of no importance. This is followed by the
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