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To His Coy Mistress

4 Pages 897 Words

At first glance, Andrew Marvell’s poem “To His Coy Mistress” is a fairly typical carpe diem poem, in which the speaker tells his beloved that they should “seize the day” and have sex now instead of waiting until they are married (Meyer 728). In today’s world, the speaker’s speech may seem sexist in its attitude toward women and irresponsible in its attitude toward the coy mistress; however the speaker does not explain how he would seize the day if the woman became pregnant. Still, if we look beyond the limited perspective of the speaker himself, we can see that Marvell is making a statement. He implies how all of us, regardless of gender or involvement in relationships, should savor the pleasures of the moment. The mistress would like to postpone sex, at least until she and the speaker are married; however, the speaker wants to consummate their physical relationship now. Each viewpoint has its reasons, and certainly the woman in the poem would stand to lose sensibly from premarital sex. Marvell, however, is not suggesting that unrestrained lust is preferable to moral or ethical restraint; sex is only the subject matter, not the theme of the poem. In my opinion, Marvell’s actual point here is that we should savor the unique experiences of each present moment. To convey this theme, the poet uses irregularities of rhyme, rhythm, and meter to undermine the mathematically neat but artificial patterns of the poem.
Although the rhyme scheme of the poem follows a simple couplet pattern (AA, BB, and so on), two couplets use irregular rhyme, not only to vary the monotonous pattern but also to reinforce the poem’s theme (Meyer 878). Lines 23 and 24 use the approximate rhyme “lie/eternity” while lines 27 and 28 repeat this irregularity with “try/virginity.”(Meyer 835). The first couplet suggests that the future that lies before us is in no way desirable: “deserts of vast eternity” imply a threatening rather...

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