To His Coy Mistress – Four Levels | Adventures In English Vol II (Two)

(c) Trinity College, University of Cambridge; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

To His Coy Mistress
Four Levels | Adventures In English Vol II
Management Notes

Unit : Six ( Love )
Written By : Andrew Marvell (31 March 1621 – 16 August 1678) was an English metaphysical poet, satirist and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1659 and 1678.”To His Coy Mistress” is a metaphysical poem written by him either during or just before the English Interregnum (1649–60).This poem is considered one of Marvell’s finest and is possibly the best recognized carpe diem poem in English. Although the date of its composition is not known, it may have been written in the early 1650s. At that time, Marvell was serving as a tutor to the daughter of the retired commander of the New Model Army, Sir Thomas Fairfax.

Literal Comprehension:
“To His Coy Mistress” is a beautiful love poem composed by Andrew Marvell, an English poet.It’s spoken by a nameless man, who doesn’t reveal any physical or biographical details about himself,to a nameless woman, who is also biography-less.During the first stanza, the speaker tells the mistress that if they had more time and space, her “coyness” wouldn’t be a “crime.” He also says how much he would compliment her and admire her, if only there was time.He would focus on “each part” of her body until he got to the heart (and “heart,” here, is both a metaphor for sex, and a metaphor for love). In the second stanza he says, “BUT,” we don’t have the time, we are about to die! He tells her that life is short, but death is forever.He warns her that, when she’s in the coffin, worms will try to take her “virginity” if she doesn’t have sex with him before they die. If she refuses to have sex with him,all his sexual desire will burn up, “ashes” for all time. In the third stanza he says, “NOW,” I’ve told you what will happen when you die, so let’s have sex while we’re still young. He wants to be like “birds of prey” . Then, he wants to play a game – the turn ourselves into a “ball” game. He suggests, furthermore, that they release all their pent up frustrations into the sex act, and, in this way, be free.

In the final lines, he calms down a little. He says that having sex can’t make the “sun” stop moving. In Marvell’s time, the movement of the sun around the earth (we now believe the earth rotates around the sun) is thought to
create time.Anyway, he says, we can’t make time stop, but we can change places with it.


The poet may be trying to show the importance of romantic love at the prime of youth and beauty. He says that life is brief and death is inevitable. Do, he suggests us to fulfill our desire and enjoy life fully when we are young. He says that if we miss the enjoyment of youth, our life will be absurd after death. That is why, he also tells her beloved to enjoy life fully to surpass time and death.

Critical thinking:

This poem is beautiful, romantic and appealing. The poet persuades his beloved to involve into romantic and productive love game. However, some ideas of the poet are questionable.

  • Should we be so lusty?
  • Why doesn’t the beloved refuse the sex appeal?
  • Is love limited only in youth?


This poem impressed me a lot. After reading this poem, I came to realize that time is limited and we are headings towards the grave. Also I understood that I have also determined to enjoy much in the prime of youth.

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