Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” is a love poem of seduction. The poem conveys biblical, historical allusions, and passionate imagery to express a young lover’s feeling that he does not have enough time to waste on the coyness of his mistress. In the first stanza the young lover is trying to seduce his mistress quickly, although he is married. He explains to her what their love would be like if they had years to spend together. He would “Love [her] ten years before the flood,” this is a biblical allusion which refers to the story of the Flood in the Bible.
The allusion emphasizes his love and the expediency he wants his mistress to make a commitment. Preceding the biblical allusion, Marvell uses a historical allusion that has the same effect as the one before it. The young lover tells his mistress “[His] vegetable love should grow,” saying that as time goes on his love will grow strong. He also says that “he will spend a hundred years to praise thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze. ”He describes beauty through the use of vivid imagery. The theme of the lack of time for them to commit to each other is prevalent throughout the poem.
The young lover attempts to explain to his mistress that only time will tell what is going to happen between the two of them, but they cannot wait too long to start a commitment, because of his marital status. He feels “Time’s winged chariot hurrying near,” int turn time is running out for their love. The line “Yonder all before [them] lie deserts of vast eternity” emphasizes the importance of time as well. He goes on to say “thy beauty shall no more be found/nor in thy marble vault shall sound/ my echoing song. ” Once time runs out, their love “shall be no more found. ”
The sexual undertone of the poem is revealed when the young lover goes on to scorn his mistress for not giving into his carnal pleasure. He tells her “Worms shall try that long preserved virginity. ” This image reveals some resentment from the young lover towards his mistress. Marvell uses images of death such as “Thy marble vault” and “worms shall try that long preserved virginity,” to present the negativity and resentment of the young lover towards his mistress in the second stanza in order to accentuate the importance of the expediency of the mistress making her move.
In the third stanza the tone changes back to a softer and more loving tone. He concludes his “complaint” by explaining to her that they must act quickly. He says, “Now let us sport us while we may. ” This implies that time, the main theme of the poem, is running out for them. The poem “To His Coy Mistress” essentially has the theme that time quickly comes and goes. The author, Marvell, uses imagery and allusions to portray the theme throughout the poem. The young lover attempts to woo his mistress into engaging in sexual activities quickly. Marvell capture a theme that is presented in today’s society. We Americans live for the moment.