The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of The Farmer’s Bride Analysis. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed.
In ‘To his coy mistress’ Marvell skilfully presents a three-part argument as to why a young woman should enter into a physical relationship with this young male persona. He begins by assuring her that if there was ‘but world enough, and time’ then both would be thoroughly used for praise and adoration of her beauty.
‘You deserve this state’ he grovels, to try and get her on his side and then he pounces with his terrifying description of bodily disintegration in the grave. Time won’t wait, he explains, before playing his ace in the final stanza. ‘Now…while your willing soul transpires…let us sport us’ he exclaims, and the reader can imagine his overconfident conviction that his mistress is impressed. She hasn’t said she’s ‘willing’ – yet, but he’s assured his argument cannot fail.
The poem, written in the seventeenth century, is still greatly enjoyed in the twenty-first century. It has geographical and religious detail which set it within its own time, with the exotic idea of rubies from the East and a reference to Christian and Jewish differences, yet its purpose, that is, at which point a relationship should become physical, is contemporary. Marvell’s mistress’s ‘quaint virginity’ would have been considered necessary for her to find a good husband, and the voice of the persona would surely have been aware of this.
Therefore the poem was probably written as a metaphysical game to prove a clever argument, rather than a desperate attempt to ‘tear our pleasures with rough strife’.
There is a hint in ‘The farmer’s bride’ that the young bride was not ‘coy’ but terrified of sex with her new husband. The farmer describes her as ‘Lying awake with her wide brown stare’. It isn’t surprising to the reader that the ‘maid, too young maybe’ was so frightened of her strange uncommunicative husband that she ‘runned away’. The farmer’s lack of guilt when he describes how ‘We caught her, fetched her home at last/And turned the key upon her, fast’, turns the modern reader against this cruel man, who can only recognise beauty and grace in nature, but can’t be sensitive and romantic with his young wife. Marvell’s young speaker, on the other hand, is full of romantic persuasive skills, which is why his suggestion: ‘Let us roll all our strength and all/Our sweetness up into one ball’ is far more likely to succeed with a reluctant lady. The ‘frightened fay’ as the seasons progress, is unlikely to warm to her desperate husband. To get her smile back he would have to learn to talk to her.
Marvell’s voice uses specific skills to persuade his ‘Lady’. The tone of the first stanza is wishful with subjunctive verbs: ‘Had we but world enough’, he begins, ‘this coyness were no crime’. He also uses the conditional verbs of ‘would’ and ‘should’ here to flatter and convince the young woman that it’s only time that makes waiting impossible. Interestingly, he never uses ‘could’, a verb which would allow doubt to enter: he can’t risk putting any doubt into his lady’s mind. In contrast, the scheming coaxer moves on to imperative verbs in stanza 3: ‘Let us sport us’ and ‘Let us roll’ are declared enthusiastically, with the conviction that no further argument is required.
Verbs such as ‘chased’, ‘caught’, ‘turned the key upon her’, used by Mew’s farmer when describing his treatment of his wife demonstrate his inability to treat her like a sensitive human being. These sound more like the actions required for capturing a stray or wild animal. From stanza 3 onwards, the state of the unsatisfactory marriage is narrated in the present tense. The seasons change but the unfortunate relationship remains the same. As ‘one leaf in the still air falls slowly down’ and autumn arrives, the farmer is concerned that there are still no children from the marriage. In his experience animals give birth each year, but he has not yet realised that human beings require courtship and tenderness, unlike farmyard animals, which do not need such civilities.
Ironically, the farmer has a close affinity with the natural world. He describes the girl as’shy as a leveret’ and ‘sweet as the first wild violets’. Sadly, he is unable to communicate the simple tenderness of his similes to his wife. Marvell’s persona, in contrast, uses the energetic simile that they should ‘sport like amorous birds of prey’, to enjoy life for the moment, taking whatever they want when the occasion arises. ‘Let us…tear our pleasures with rough strife’, he coerces, regardless of inhibiting morality. ‘Time’s winged chariot’, hurtling young beautiful people towards ‘deserts of vast eternity’ is the dominant metaphor, a warning to ‘carpe diem’. ‘Worms shall try/ that long-preserved virginity’ is perhaps the most shocking image. The imagined decomposition of a girlfriend’s corpse is not a usual subject when trying to flatter and impress her and coupled with the girl’s ‘honour’ being described as ‘quaint’, Marvell is using the (still effective) persuasive method of calling her old-fashioned.
His tone, at the end of the poem, where he has reached the end of his metaphysical argument, is of great optimism. The final couplet concedes that it may not be possible to slow time down, yet if the ‘strength’ of the male and the ‘sweetness’ of the female combine, then together they can at least enjoy their short lives to the full, whilst giving the sun god and his chariot an entertaining ‘run’.The reader can only laugh and enjoy the cleverness of the conceit. At the end of Mew’s poem, however, there may be concern that the farmer is slipping into madness. ‘Oh! My God!’ he cries, unable to advance the relationship either by walking up the attic stairs or by talking to his shy and terrified wife. In the last two lines she has almost turned, in his imagination, into an animal with her ‘soft young down’. Surely, at this point he recognises that she was definitely ‘too young’. Despite his cruelty the reader has to feel some sympathy for him as well as his ‘poor maid’ of a wife.