Andrew Marvell "To His Coy Mistress"

What does COY mean? _______________________________________

There are three themes that frequently go together that we can see in this poem.

  1. "Tempus fugit"- time flies.
  2. "Carpe diem"-seize the day.
  3. "Momento More" -this is a reminder of death.  In movies, the skull you sometimes see on the desk of a medieval monk is a momento mori reminding him of his own mortality.
Marvell uses a logical form called a conditional statement. (If . . . then.)

If time did not fly, then we could take all the time we need before we actually consummate the relationship. They could take all the time from 10 years before Noah's flood until the conversion of the Jews to Christianity at the end of time.

Vegetable love - plants grow & age more slowly than animals.

He would spend immense amounts of time on his blazons of her. 100 years praising her eyes, 200 praising her breasts, 30,000 praising her etc.

But they can't. Why? We see in the next section


Tempus fugit:

Time is flying & we must act now.

Momento mori:

Her beauty will fade, & if she maintains her virginity until the grave, she'll just lose it to the worms.

"I think" no one embraces in the grave. This is a poetic device called understatement. Of course no one embraces in the grave. There her honor will turn to dust & his lust into ashes.


Therefore, carpe diem:

He shows the violence of love and life.

"Amorous birds of prey."

They should attack each other like mating falcons. We should embrace our mortality (and each other) with a gleam in our eyes.

"At once our time devour."
"Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run."

In other words, "Live hard, die young."