‘To His Coy Mistress’ was written by a poet called Andrew Marvell who was born on the 31st March 1621. He was a Cambridge-educated priest, poet and a Member of Parliament. The poem was written in the year 1652. The theme of the poem is love and its passionate beginnings. The genre of the poem is ‘carpe diem’ which is Latin for ‘seize the day’ or ‘get the most out of life’. Carpe diem was used effectively by Horace; therefore this poem is quasi-Horatian.
The theme is basically love and physical seduction which occurs at the beginning of a relationship.
The poem shows how men seduced women typically in the seventeenth century. The title of the poem suggests that the woman is generally shy, a little withdrawn and maybe secretly wanting to get involved with the man. The form of the poem is lyric. There are three sections to the poem, marked by indents at the verses. The poem’s context is time-period.
The form is quite suitable to the theme because it shows in three sections how the man seduces the woman. In the first section, he is flattering and complimenting her.
The second section is dark, pressuring and the mood gets much more sombre at the mention of death behind them. The third section is more upbeat and rushed because he’s saying to her ‘now I’ve explained everything to you. ‘ Marvell has presented the theme by unfolding it gradually during the poem. In the first few sentences it’s clear that the theme is love because he is talking about if they had enough time what they would do.
He flatters her by saying ‘two hundred years to adore each breast’ and ‘lady you deserve this state’. He applies his rhetorical language skills on her.
In the second section, the theme of love is overpowered by the threatening of time, death and darkness. Marvell uses this in the second section to show us how men applied pressure on women in those times. The man tried flattering her at the beginning, but that didn’t work, so he changed his technique to try and pressurise her. He wants her to understand that she’s not going to live forever, so she should take her chance. ‘Thy beauty shall no more be found. Nor in thy marble vault shall sound my echoing song. ‘ He’s telling her that her beauty is going to disappear if they don’t beat time.
He also describes a vault which is where they kept dead bodies in those days. He’s saying to her ‘you won’t hear my poetry or my words; you will be lying there with all the dead bodies, decomposing and rotting away. ‘ The theme of the third section is unfolded with the physical aspect of love, ‘Let us roll all our strength and all our sweetness up into one ball’. He basically tells her that they should put everything together into one in a physical sense. The last section is rounding off everything and the man is telling the woman that it’s her decision now.
The poem is low-pitched in tone and the language Marvell uses is old-fashioned, mainly because the poem was written in the seventeenth century. The language is rhetorical and reflected on time as he talks about historical dates in the first section. For example, he mentions the ‘conversion of the Jews’ and the flood associated with Noah. In the first section, the tone is gentle, flattering and persuasive. However, in the second section, there’s a dark tone therefore the poem may be whispered, hushed, intimate and deliberately chilling. The mood of the male speaker is changeable.
In the first section, he is quite relaxed and gentle. In the second section, his mood changes suddenly to dark, sombre and rushed. This is because he’s trying to pressurise her into having sex with him. To do this, he depresses her by telling her that death is going to catch up with her and they need to beat time. After the dark section about death, his mood changes in the third section to a happy and joyous one because he’s trying to excite her and persuade her to fulfil their lives. He says ‘now let us sport us wile we may. ‘ By saying that, he’s telling her that they should get on with it.
The atmosphere is quite tense at times, but overall it’s peaceful. What he says to her in the beginning is both romantic and influential, for example, ‘we would sit down and think which way to walk and pass or long loves day. ‘ Andrew Marvell uses a series of kinetic images to show the man’s love and connect it with time. Firstly, he talks to her about the river Ganges in India, then the Humber, and then he talks about the flood which happened at around 3,000BC. He tells her that he would love her ten years before that if they had all the time in the world.
By doing this, he is using exotic imagery because the river Ganges is considered to be a holy and sacred river in India. The he uses contrast as he compares it to the river Humber, ‘I by the tide of Humber would complain. ‘ This image is miserable as he says ‘complain’ which means weeping or crying. Also, the river Humber is significant to Marvell because his father drowned there in the year 1640. Marvell also uses static imagery when he describes ‘desarts of vast eternity’ as in eternal deserts which go on forever. It’s a depressing and miserable thought which Marvell cleverly connects to the ‘carpe diem’ theme.
There is more dark imagery when the male speaker says, ‘nor in thy marble vault, shall sound me echoing song: then worms shall try that long preserv’d virginity. ‘ He’s saying that she has two options – either she lets him have her virginity, or she can die with it and let the worms have it. It is both erotic and grotesque in a way. It’s hardly flattering imagery, but it was a very common technique in those days for men to seduce women in that way. The movement of this poem is regular and nearly every line has eight syllables. It is irregular because I cannot see any metrical structure or patterns in the line-construction.
Marvell emphasises the last line by trying to rush it. He does this by using all the words with monosyllables, ‘stand still, yet we will make him run. ‘ This poem has a slow pace which reflects the mood. It’s suitable because the speaker is talking about love, time and death which are slow topics and drag on. However, there is occasional acceleration in the second section where the speaker is rushing everything. Marvell uses formal, complex and archaic language in this poem, for example, ‘shouldst’, ‘thou’, ‘thus’, ‘languish’, ‘strife’, and ‘alwaies. ‘ There is also esoteric language which is metaphysical too.
An example of this is ‘my vegetable love. ‘ It produces a strange image by harnessing strange and unrelated words together. I think Marvell described love with vegetable because a vegetable grows slowly and it gives the impression of love growing slowly over time. Marvell uses personification as he vivifies Death and Time. He says ‘but at my back I alwaies hear times wingi?? d chariot hurrying near. ‘ Time is personified here as passing very quickly. The word chariot is associated with armies and destruction and the image gives is us the impression that death is approaching from behind them.
Rather at once our Time devour’ is another sentence in which Marvell incorporates the idea of tine wasting them away. In a way, the male speaker is telling the woman that they heave to use up their time rather than let it use them. Another phrase that caught my attention is ‘then worms shall try that long preserv’d virginity. ‘ The male speaker tries to seduce the woman by using this repulsive and erotic idea. He’s saying ‘don’t take your virginity with you when you die, give it to me.
‘ Marvell uses a metaphor in the last section of the poem when he says, ‘thorough the iron gates of life. Iron gates have the strength to keep and confine people, so the male speaker is saying that they should make love and push the gates wide open. In conclusion, this is a passionate poem showing how men seduced women by using the idea of death and time. I particularly like the way Marvell personifies time as a chariot approaching from behind and in my opinion this is a well-written and detailed poem. ‘Ending’ is a poem written by Gavin Ewart. He is poet who was born in London in the year 1916 and died in 1995. Ewart came from a Scottish background and he wrote the poem in the 1970’s.
Ewart was Cambridge-educated and he became a poet before the Second World War. The poem is different to other love poems because the theme of it is the ending of a relationship, not the beginning. The title is only the word ‘Ending’, without the word ‘The’ in front. By doing this, Ewart gives the poem a sense of finality. The poem has fourteen lines; however, it is not a sonnet. There are eight or nine syllables per line. The poem is written in seven rhyming couplets. There is no particular setting for the poem, but there is only a male speaker talking through the past of relationship.
Ewart has chosen to construct the poem in rhyming couplets, for instance, ‘the kisses that were as hot as curry are bird-pecks taken in a hurry. ‘ The poem is made to unfold gradually before the reader. Ewart does this by developing the same idea for each couplet. The first line in each couplet talks about how the relationship was when it first started. The second line in each couplet compares the first to how the situation is now (the relationship about to end). For example, ‘the feet that ran to meet a date’ is the first of the couplet, and the second is ‘are running slow and running late.
The poet gives the poem a sense of finality again by using a low-pitched tone. The volume is also low when somebody reads out the poem. It’s quiet and reflective. The mood of the speaker is sombre and serious. He’s not happy, but he isn’t suicidal. He’s just sorry that the relationship is over. The atmosphere is created by an industrial dispute from the 1970’s. For example, ‘the hands that held electric charges’ is related back to the 1970’s industrial action where there was a union/government crisis. There were a lot of power cuts and the workers went on strike because of this.
Running slow and running late’ also relates back because at that time there was action taken on trains as a result of them always being late. Another effective example here is ‘the eyes that shone and seldom shut are victims of a power cut’. This describes how workers took revenge on the government by shutting down their power plants. All of this shows how love I a product of what happens in society. ‘Transmitted joy’ is also another word linked to electricity. The imagery used in the poem by Gavin Ewart is mostly kinetic. This is because each line of the poem produces a different mental image.
For example, ‘the hands that held electric charges now lie inert as four moored barges’. This gives us a series of images of how the couple’s hands were held together but now they lie motionless. In this poem, you can predict how the rhythm will take place. This is called regular rhythm. This is created by metrical structure which is an ancient Greek system of line construction. Ewart achieves this by using approximately eight or nine syllables per line and patterns of emphases. This pattern is called ‘iambics’ which has a Latin origin. Iambs are a metrical foot of an unstressed syllable followed by a short or stressed syllable.
The first couplet in the poem has ten iambs per line. The second and third have nine iambs. The fourth, fifth and sixth couplets have eight iambs per line. The last couplet has eight iambs in the first line and nine in the last. The pace in this poem is not too fast and not too slow, so I would say that it is moderate. This is reflective upon the sombre mood which the speaker is in. the language that Ewart uses is simple and straightforward, it’s easy to understand. I think that Ewart uses modern language in the poem because he wanted it to reflect upon the time he was living in, which is the 1970’s.
The language used is based on students’ lives because Ewart talks about curry and kisses and dates which immediately makes us think of university students. A phrase that appears in this poem which is a powerful one is ‘the hands that held electric charges now lie inert as four moored barges’. Electric charges are again associated with power cuts, but they also give us an idea of the passion of a relationship when it first begins. Ewart uses assonance in the phrase because ‘four’ and ‘moored’ have the same vowel sound, they are an internal rhyme.
Describing their hands as inert barges shows is that they are worn out and lay still – there’s no sexual contact anymore. Ewart uses developed imagery throughout the poem which is classed as metaphysical. Gavin Ewart also uses the word ‘coy’ in the poem, just like in Marvell’s poem. However, in this poem, the woman is described as coy because she is disinterested. Ewart personifies romance in he last two lines when he says, ‘romance, expected once to stay, has left a note saying GONE AWAY’. Leaving a note to a partner is the modern and conventional way of ending a relationship.
People do this because they cannot face telling their partners their true feelings. Ewart emphasises this by using capital letters. In conclusion, this is a modern poem with only a male speaker who reflects upon the beginning of a relationship and compares it with how it ends. It’s a short but descriptive poem. I am now going to compare the similarities between the poems. The first thing these poems have in common is the fact that they are both about love and its physicality. The poets, Gavin Ewart and Andrew Marvell were both educated at Cambridge. Both poems contain ‘metaphysical language’.
In ‘To His Coy Mistress’ the phrase used is ‘vegetable love’. In ‘Ending’ it’s the developed imagery that Ewart uses. The two poems refer incidentally to India. ‘To His Coy Mistress’ describes that sacred Indian River Ganges and ‘Ending’ contains the native Indian food p curry. Both poems include images of human contact. Marvell says ‘let’s roll all our strength and all our sweetness up into one ball,’ referring to their bodies. Ewart writes ‘the kisses that were hot as curry are bird-pecks taken in a hurry’. Looking at the language used in the poems, I have noticed that the word ‘coy’ appears in both of them.
However, they do mean different things. In ‘To His Coy Mistress’ Marvell uses coy to describe how shy the lady is and how she doesn’t want to show her feelings in ‘Ending’ Ewart describes the woman as ‘cold and coy’ because she’s no longer interested in the man. Personification is used in both poems – Marvell personifies time as a chariot and Ewart personifies romance when he says that it has gone away. Metaphors are also used with the gates in To His Coy Mistress and the barges in Ending. The two poems contain assonance which is two rhyming sounds in the same line. ‘Rather at once our time devour’, here Marvell rhymes ‘our’ with ‘devour’.
In Ending, then phrase is ‘now lie inert as four moored barges’. The words included here are four and moored because they have the same vowel sound. The two poems also contain roughly eight syllables in each line. I am now going to look at the contrasts between the two poems. The first obvious point of contrast is that ‘To His Coy Mistress’ is a poem about the beginning of love whereas ‘Ending’ is about the end of a relationship.
The speaker in ‘To His Coy Mistress’ is interested in the woman and is trying to seduce her whereas the speaker in Ending is disinterested in the woman as he reflects upon the relationship which has ended. To His Coy Mistress’ is old-fashioned because it was written in the seventeenth century. ‘Ending’ is quite a modern poem because it was written towards the end of the twentieth century. The language used in ‘To His Coy Mistress’ is esoteric and complex language whereas in ‘Ending’, the language is simple and contemporary. ‘To His Coy Mistress’ is persuasive but ‘Ending’ is reflective.
‘To His Coy Mistress’ is also formal and rhetorical whereas ‘Ending’ is informal. The structures of the two poems differ because Ending has only one section which is fourteen lines long. To His Coy Mistress’ on the other hand has forty-six lines which are separated into three sections. There is a woman mentioned in both poems but the difference is that she is present in To His Coy Mistress but absent in Ending. In ‘To His Coy Mistress’ the tones vary with each section, for example, in the first section it is low-pitched but it suddenly changes to an even lower pitch in the second section. The tone in Ending is constant throughout. The mood of the male speaker varies in ‘To His Coy Mistress’ as he talks about death and time whereas the mood of the male speaker in ‘Ending’ remains the same.
Another difference between the two poems is the rhythm and metre. In ‘To His Coy Mistress’ the rhythm is irregular, however, in ‘Ending’ it is regular. In conclusion, I like both poems, but I prefer ‘To His Coy Mistress’ because it is a very descriptive and persuasive poem. I am fascinated by the way Marvell uses the idea of death to persuade a woman into a relationship. The way that he personifies time is effective as well. I prefer ‘To His Coy Mistress’ mainly because of the complex language used by the poet.