The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of My Coy. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed.
Sonnet 130 is a love poem in sonnet form by William Shakespeare that controversially goes against the standard love clichi? s of a traditional love poem by describing his love honestly and very realistically. The tone of the poem appears negative but in fact he is actually showing his realisation that love has imperfections but his love is enough to overcome any of them and the beauty of love is a fake sugar-coating of physical beauty.
His love is expressed as the love that what lies beneath; the innermost feelings of each person.
The poem (though controversial in its context) is traditionally structured in sonnet form with fourteen lines and ten syllables per line. The ABAB rhyming structure is carried out throughout the poem until the last two lines which are rhyming couplets. This typical structure, along with the obvious iambic pentameter, creates an easy-flowing read with a pleasant rhythm.
At first glance, the context appears to be very insulting and even the very title – ‘my mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun’ – imply an offence.
Unlike the majority of the love poems of the period where the poets’ lovers were all described as goddesses that glide and having beautiful golden hair, Shakespeare describes his love as having ‘black wires grow on her head’ and specifically mentions that ‘he never saw a goddess go’ and ‘when she walks, treads on the ground’.
This is quite a comparison to the dazzling goddess that one would expect to be described and seems as if Shakespeare is trying to offend his mistress.
However, with a little thought, Shakespeare actually appears to be aiming to be realistic about his love – though it may also be proven to simply be a mockery of the conservative love songs of the day. While traditional poets would use specific imagery to paint beautiful and attractive images of their love, Shakespeare takes these ideas and revises them, so that they portray unattractive, unpleasant but more honest depictions of his mistress. For example, where poets would describe their loves as having lips as red as coral, Shakespeare describes his mistress’s lips as ‘coral [being] far more red than her lips red’.
In addition, instead of describing her rosy cheeks as commonly read elsewhere, he says ‘no such roses have I seen in her cheeks. The last two lines are different from the rest of the poem being rhyming couplets and consequently they stand out, giving an opportune chance to emphasize a point. Shakespeare uses this to emphasize his love for his mistress and therefore also to emphasize the positive aspect of the poem (genuine nature of his love) – enough to balance out and even cancel out the negativity of the poem.
Sonnet 130 appears to be a rather unkind description of Shakespeare’s mistress, however it could also be thought of as him describing her positive traits using negativity. He may not be describing her as unattractive, but simply not describing her as stunning, so to speak. He does in fact say that he ‘love to hear her speak’ and it is only that it is undeniable that one would find more pleasure in listening to music than the sound of her voice. Shakespeare is merely being honest and realistic with his love, showing us that love is still beautiful, even when it’s honest.
In contrast His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell uses more the conventional language of a love poem yet by challenging the thinking of the time (sex before marriage) also sets out to be controversial. His Coy Mistress is a persuasive poem in which a controlling and dominating Marvell attempts to convince his mistress to sleep with him. Unlike Shakespeare’s sonnet where language rather than structure (this remains in traditional sonnet form) is used to emphasis a point in the case of Marvell’s poem it is the other way round.
Structure is very important in his poem. There are no stanzas but there are three very clear sections. Each section endeavours to persuade ‘his Mistress’ using different manners and methods. Marvell also uses time in his quest of persuasion. The poem’s rhythm, stressing every other syllable, primarily creates the convincing sense of urgency but actually, each section portrays time in a different manner, enforcing his argument even more.
In fact, the rhythm is the same as Shakespeare’s sonnet but each poet has used the rhythm to convey different atmospheres. The first section of the poem describes ideal time. Marvell appears to have unconditional love for his mistress and uses exaggerated times to express his love: ‘thirty thousand to the rest [of her body parts]’. He says he will love her ’till the conversion of the Jews’ even if she refuses. This line suggests his undying love for her as ‘the conversion’ will never happen. Marvell’s first argument uses flattery.
In contrast to Shakespeare’s sonnet where honest but unflattering descriptions are used, Marvell exaggerates his mistress’s beauty in his attempt to sweet-talk her – for example by describing the many years it would take to love and appreciate fully each part of her: ‘two hundred [years] to adore each breast’. The second section is created using fear as the main argument. Beginning with the word ‘but’, the reader is prepared for the following to be filled with negativity. Marvell talks of real time and what little there is. He creates striking images of a loveless death where she is in a grave where ‘none [he] think do there embrace’.
He particularly emphasizes ‘deserts of vast eternity’ by changing the rhythm so it stands out, making the reader pause to think about it. These are prime examples of the imagery created in this metaphysical poem. Time is rushing towards them as is suggested in the second line of this section: ‘time’s winged chariot hurrying near’. Another idea used to frighten her into sleeping with him, is the idea of worms taking her virginity and creates a mocking tone to the poem by describing her ‘quaint honour’ which she’d fought so long to preserve.
Passion is his last attempt in this third and final section. It begins with ‘now’ (also repeated four lines later for emphasis) enhancing the feeling of passion and urgency. The first four lines of this section enforce ideas of life and energy; ‘youthful’; ‘willing soul’; ‘instant fires’. He describes optimum time and finishes the poem with ‘Thus, though we cannot make our sun// Stand still, yet we will make him run’, as the poem reaches it’s conclusion, that of persuading her that they have no time to lose and should sleep together straight away.
Whereas before he had centred the subject of the poem on him [‘I’] or her [‘you’], he now uses ‘us’ (‘Now lets us sport us while we may’) and ‘we’ (in the final lines as previously quoted) creating a bond between them and putting the idea of them together into the reader’s head generating yet another argument: they would be good together. The endings of the two poems reveal important differences. For example, Marvell’s ending makes no apologies for the way he has expressed his love and his structure remains true to the poem right to the end. On the other hand Shakespeare’s last two lines stand out.
They are not in sonnet form which could support the argument that he is mocking the traditional sonnet as well or that he feels the need to expel any doubts (which the reader may have! ) that he genuinely loves this woman. In each poem, the language is quite coarse and extreme but both use that effect in illustrating positive images of their love. For example, Shakespeare describes his mistress as the complete opposite of a goddess with breath that ‘reeks’ and Marvell describes his mistress’ death but somehow, though the poets’ language throughout the poems is similar to this, the overall message depicted is good and not negative.
Marvell and Shakespeare’s poems are both successful in what they aimed to achieve – convincing their mistresses of their love in innovative manners. Both use their poems to escape conventional thinking; Shakespeare escapes the use of exaggerated and goddess-like depictions of women in love poems; while Marvell escapes the thinking that sex before marriage is a bad thing.
Though both poems are centred on love, Shakespeare’s is more emotional whereas Marvell’s is more physical and sexual though both of them describe their love as being ‘rare’ as quoted by Shakespeare and similarly, Marvell’s unique ‘vegetable’ love. Both poems make enjoyable reading because of their irony and the challenge they make to conventional thinking of the time though Sonnet 130 probably more so because of the more humorous side Shakespeare brings to it.