To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell: Summary and Critical Analysis

If human life were not limited by space and time, the beloved’s coyness would not harm the lover and the beloved. They would sit and plan how to pass their long time. The beloved would be by the side of the Indian Ganges and the lover by the side of the Humber in England. She could refuse him as long as she pleased. His love would grow larger slowly.

Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)

He would praise every part of her body spending a lot of time because she is so beautiful and his love is so deep. But the poet (the lover) is followed by endless thoughts of the ever-nearing chariot whose wheels are always audible. There is no escape from the life and the laws of time. In front, of him there is the stillness, the barrenness of the eternity. Time makes her old and she will die. Then she will no longer be beautiful. Her dead body will be eaten by the worms. Her honor will turn into dust and his lust also will pass away. Although she will be in her private place in the grave, yet nobody will embrace her there.

Therefore when she is young, beautiful, active, they should amuse each other. Instead of acting slowly, they should act quickly. They should gather all their strength and sweetness. They should fight to get pleasure. Although they cannot stop the time they will enjoy while it is passing. The speaker in 'To His Coy Mistress' has expressed his tender feeling of love to his coy Mistress. He inspires us to enjoy love as long as we live in this world. The poet means to say that we should enjoy love within the limited time. The lifetime of a man is very short. In this short life a person should enjoy his life with his love partner. He prefers to pass some time by the side of the river Ganga. He would like to nourish her love till ten years before the destruction of the world by flood, though his beloved may refuse it even before the prophecy of destruction of the Jews.

The poet has compared his love to vegetable in respect of quick growth. As vegetable grows quickly so he wishes that his love with his coy mistress should grow and develop vaster than empires. He won’t like to praise her eyes and forehead for hundred years. He would feel pleasure in enjoying her each breast for two hundred years and for the rest part of her body he would be praising her for thirty thousand years. He would regard her as a body of higher rate nor of lower rates. So he encourages her to taste the pleasure of love without any delay and without the feelings of shame and hesitation.

The chariot of time is passing very quickly and nearing death and vast eternity. After death her body would turn into dust and in the grave none would embrace her. The poet is about suggesting that the youth is the best time of life. As long as the youthful skin of the young person is fresh and bright as dew drops and the fire of passion burns, we should enjoy life like happy birds. Life is full of struggle and bitterness. Youth is the best opportunity to cross dry and monotonous Iron Gate of life with love and affection. This dry life of ours must be spent within the circle of love and passion.

This poem is a philosophical poem mixed with the feeling of love. It is a fine lyric with beautiful style. The theme of love has been expressed in a very intelligent way in this poem.

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