“To his coy mistress” by Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)

“Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honor turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
 Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on the skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run. “

 This poem by Andrew Marvell is a standard text book poem.The tone of the poem sounds affected but that is because of the times.Not every one could be Shakespeare in an age of affectation.The words sound laboured ,devoid of sincerity.Everything seems to have been thought up,not emotions recollected in tranquillity.

We cannot of course not take cognisance of a single image  whose beauty has haunted us all in academic discussions and poetry readings.:

But at my back I always hear/Time’s winged charriot  hurrying near/Yonder all before us lie/Deserts of vast eternity.

 The rest of the imagery does not match upto the beauty of this single image.  One  gets the impression that the poet’s use of irony does not leave enough scope for exploring  images for their innate beauty.


2 comments on ““To his coy mistress” by Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)

  1. ajith vijayan says:

    indeed a gr8 piece of work..rich of imageries and poetic elements…reading through one can visualize the sequences on by one..

  2. nisheedhi says:

    Yes indeed.Thanks

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