Andrew Marvell

(31 March 1621 – 16 August 1678 / Yorkshire, England)

To His Coy Mistress - Poem by Andrew Marvell

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 Loves Day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges side.
Should'st 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 then 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 alwaies hear
Times winged Charriot hurrying near:
And yonder all before us lye
Desarts of vast Eternity.
Thy Beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble Vault, shall sound
My ecchoing Song: then Worms shall try
That long preserv'd Virginity:
And your quaint Honour turn to durst;
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 hew
Sits on thy skin like morning glew,
And while thy willing Soul transpires
At every pore with instant Fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am'rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our Time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapt pow'r.
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.

Topic(s) of this poem: love


Comments about To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell

  • Dipankar Sadhukhan Dipankar Sadhukhan (9/25/2016 6:27:00 AM)

    To His Coy Mistress as a metaphysical poem.
    Metaphysical poetry flourished in the 17th century and it was brought to perfection by John Donne and his disciple, Andrew Marvell. Marvell, in particular, attempted to combine levity with seriousness in English poetry. This is very much evident in his love poems like To His Coy Mistress. It is simply a poem of love, metamorphosed into a metaphysical experience. It is not an essay in abstraction like The Definition of Love.It is on the recurrent theme of carpe-diem, carpe-floem (catch the day, catch the flower) . Again the same idea recurs in ' Gather ye the rose buds, while ye may'. The theme is basically Epicurean or Hedonistic. The poet tries to persuade his ladylike to yield to him.

    The theme is familiar enough in European literature and runs back to roman time, to Catullus, for example whose ideas are taken up more delicately by Ben Johnson in the song, Come, my Celia let us prove/ While, we may the sport of love.

    The lady being reluctant, the speaker in Marvell's poem warns her that they may have little time to spare and unless they make the most of it right now, Time - the all powerful time will devour them. Then they will have to languish in his slow - chat power.

    The poem has a syllogistic pattern and progression. It consists of three sections, each section representing a step in the argument, first the supposition, then the necessity to reject it and lastly the consequence of rejecting it. The poet thought that they had unlimited time for love-making. The lady also would do exotic things in exotic surroundings. The lover continues to use hyperbolical statement to admire each and every physical organ of his ladylove. He like a mathematician divides his time of devotion to every organ. This part is comical and light hearted but thought-provoking. The readers of Marvell are greatly amused at his marvellous capacity of combining levity and seriousness.

    In the second part the poet gives one of the painful realities of life - time passes and beauty fades and we have to court death. Third section presents us with a fitting conclusion. It is no use delaying consumption. They should make love now and immediately. He reminds his ladylove that she has youthful vitality and burning passion. The youthful hue/Sits on thy skin like a morning dew. Time is favourable to them. They should not therefore let the opportunity slip away. They should, Tear our pleasures with rough strife/ Through the iron gates of life.

    The three sections contrast not only in what they say, but in their imagery, wit and tone. The imagery of the first section is an extravagant and far-fetched because he is indulging in pure fancy. In the third section, the imagery is full of vigorous activity and liveliness. So the tone of the poem is of varied nature. In the first section Marvell is light hearted and playful. There is airy about what he says. Suddenly he becomes serious. Unexpected intensity flares up and the rhythm becomes the more charged and the energetic when the subject changes from coy - virginity to the ruthless march of time- But at my back I always hear / Time's winged chariot hurrying near:

    Marvell poetry represents the typical metaphysical quality of the juxtaposition of incongruity with serious aspects of metaphysics. Marvell had the rare capacity of making the serious, light hearted and the light hearted, serious. Such is the metaphysical ingenuity of the disciple of John Donne. (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
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  • Edward Kofi Louis Edward Kofi Louis (3/16/2016 7:33:00 AM)


    At lower rate. Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Aarish Manal Aarish Manal (10/19/2015 8:55:00 AM)


    woww..coool (Report) Reply

  • Sreelekha Premjit (6/22/2015 4:13:00 AM)


    the grave is a fine and private place
    but none I think do there embrace... (Report) Reply

  • Rajesh Thankappan Rajesh Thankappan (1/8/2015 9:56:00 AM)


    Time is short and one should not further shorten dilly-dallying. (Report) Reply

  • John Harper (1/28/2014 2:17:00 AM)


    It is the most elegant snow job in the English language. It makes all of rock n roll wear pink! (Report) Reply

  • Manuel Cisneros (4/24/2012 6:29:00 AM)


    one of the gratest love poems ever written. (Report) Reply

  • Chizryan Ogunkah (8/27/2011 4:48:00 PM)


    this poem acts as a reminder to women on how time is not their best company, even before the grave, they may lose the ''virtues'' mostly appreciated. (Report) Reply

  • Chizryan Ogunkah (8/27/2011 4:47:00 PM)


    this poem acts as a reminder to women on how time is not their best company even before the (Report) Reply

  • Juniper March (10/7/2009 4:08:00 PM)


    This is fabulous, it transported me
    to a magical place
    and it is so right,
    now! not in the grave! (Report) Reply

  • Rahul G (12/20/2008 2:28:00 PM)


    he should be andrew marvellous! this peice of poem is really enchanting. no wonder what happened after he must have presented this poem to his mistress'es (Report) Reply

  • Denzel D (6/19/2007 10:07:00 AM)


    Im guessing he was an all time player of his time, i believe this is what it took to seduce the hell out of a girl, lol (Report) Reply

  • Rick Lee (6/9/2005 9:19:00 PM)


    I love this poem very much, especially the first part. Wild imagination, unlimited scope and time, from the side of Ganges to the tide of Humber, from the Flood to the Conversion of Jews. Travels freely beyond the power of mortals. Seems containing some romantic elements. (Report) Reply

  • Merrelley Gillie (5/7/2005 4:38:00 PM)


    This is one of my favourite poems. He loves her and time is going fast while all ahead are deserts of vast eternity. Her dewy skin is still young - one day she will die. It's actually a mixture of love and death, an awsome poem.

    Merrelley (Report) Reply

Read all 14 comments »

Read poems about / on: lust, strength, song, beauty, time, sun, world, love, running



Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Poem Edited: Thursday, December 11, 2014


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