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To His Coy Mistress
To His Coy Mistress
Metaphysical poetry was originally a style of poetry to describe the poet John Donne\'s work, but then later extended to a school of 17th century poets. The verse deals with the use of philosophy to explain the human drama in the universe. Their poetic style and method is what linked the poets together. Here, the poets Andrew Marvell, who wrote \'To His Coy Mistress\', George Herbert who wrote \'Love\' and John Donne who wrote \'The Sun Rising\' all fit into the metaphysical grouping.
All the poems include an argument within themselves. The poem \'To His Coy Mistress\' is structured within a syllogistic framework - which begins with an initial premise, then introduces a qualification to the premise, and ends with a resolution to the conflict. In addition, Marvell manages to marry a syllogistic framework with a passionate poem of seduction. He firstly argues that if the couple had all the time in the world, he would woo his lady so slowly her coyness would be irrelevant. "Had we but world enough, and time, This coyness, lady, were no crime."
He proceeds to outline what he would do out of love for his lady if they were both to live for much longer, mentioning such lengths of time as centuries and ages. Throughout this initial premise of \'if\', he uses esoteric imagery to illustrate his argument. For example, he describes his life as a \'vegetable\' love, which not only gives connotations of a slow, developing love to grow for his \'mistress\', but also the description of a \'vegetable soul.\' The vegetable soul is the lowest level of the soul in the Renaissance concept in the levels of reason. Therefore, this suggests a kind of love that could exist without sensual enjoyment and suggests, by its association with the vegetable soul, that it is a lower form of love than sexual love. This is because the middle soul - the \'sensible soul\' – deals with passion and love. This use of metaphysical conceit is common in all the poems, and Marvell\'s technique of drawing upon philosophy to illustrate his argument gives the poem an intellectual appeal, not just a visual one. There is also complete devotion displayed in this first stage of the argument, namely: "I would Love you ten years before the flood. And you should, if you please, refuse Till the conversion of the Jews."
Here, this deals with the extremity of his argument. He is prepared to love her ten years before the \'flood\' (presumably Noah\'s Ark), and would not be at all insulted if she refused to love him back until the conversion of the Jews, seemingly until the end of time. Once his opinions have been established, he then continues to the second stage of his argument.
Beginning with the conjunction of \'But\' - a word that prepares us for an alternative argument, Marvell\'s second stage in his syllogistic framework refutes the initial premise by addressing the concepts of reality. He now asserts that time is an issue, having already established that if it wasn\'t, his method of seduction would be different. By firstly shifting to the present tense, which creates a sense of immediacy, he then uses more stylistic devices to convey the sense of urgency that is necessary when he is discussing the lack of time that the couple possess. For example, he firstly describes the \'winged chariot\' that is \'hurrying near.\' The winged chariot metaphor gives the reader connotations of a fast and furious speed, which is then neatly juxtaposed with the \'Deserts of vast eternity\' – which gives an atmosphere of a slow, fruitless future.
Marvell then has a pronoun switch, which draws the woman directly into the argument and enhances the sense of intimacy, with the intimate form of \'you\' - \'thy.\' Marvell then uses grim, humorous, phallic imagery to demonstrate how lust will inevitably die, and the consequence of there being no lust in death. "Thy beauty shall no more be found; ....then worms shall try That long-preserved virginity."
There is a grim, dark humor present, not only with the phallic imagery of the worms, but also the use of \'quaint\', which also had a crude, underlying meaning at the time when the poem
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To His Coy Mistress, Andrew Marvell, Metaphysical poets, Conceit, Argument, Marvell
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