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To his coy mistress and Cousin Kate Essay

Andrew Marvell was a poet he was born in Yorkshire in the 17th century. He was a member of the metaphysical poets.

Christina Rosseti was born in London on December 5th 1830. She was labeled a poet in the 19th century and was part of the pre-Raphelite Brotherhood.

The tradition that ‘to his coy mistress’ belongs to is of a carpe diem poem. The serious subject in this poem is we do not have forever. Cousin Kate is a poem about Love and relationship it is also an attack on Victorians attitude to women.

To his coy mistress

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The narrator of this poem is the man who is trying to persuade his mistress to get into bed with him. The word ‘Coy’ implies her shyness and sensitivity. The first stacge of hhis argument ‘Had we’ is saying had we enough time the second ‘but’ is saying we do not have enough time and the third ‘now therefore’ is saying lets make love as otherwise our time will run out.

Stanza 1

In the first stanza the narrator attacks his mistress for her coyness by saying ‘had we but world enough time, this coyness lady were no crime’ he is saying that her being shy is a crime as they are not going to live forever and therefore should not be so shy.

In the first stanza he quotes ‘my vegetable love should grow’ this is an example of metaphysical conceit, he is saying that there is nothing wrong with sex its healthy and natural just like a vegetable. He then tries to persuade her by using flattery ‘two hundred to adore each breast but thirty thousand to the rest’ this flatters and persuades her, this is also a hyperbole.

Stanza 2

The narrator’s basic point in stanza 2 is we do not have all the time in the world. In lines 12-22 he says ‘but at my back I always hear, times winged chariot hurrying near’ this means we do not have much time so lets not wait any longer, and the image of times winged chariot hurrying near is saying that time is going fast and coming nearer to our deaths. He uses images of death ‘the graves a fine and private place’ he is trying to persuade her by saying your grave will be a quite place and it will be only you in the grave.

Words in this stanza that suggest death and decay are marble vault, ashes , dust, grave. His lady would probably react to this in a negative way and want to get into bed with him more as she would not to die a virgin or single. The narrator uses this to frighten her into bed. The narrator says ‘deserts of vast eternity’ which again frightens her.

Stanza 3

In the third stanza he tells his mistress we should wait no longer as soon enough we will have no time left ‘let us roll all our strength into one ball’ what he means by this is seize the day as we do not have forever. Words in this stanza that suggest a sense of urgency are ‘now’ he repeats this to add effect because he wants her now, ‘run’ and ‘time devour’ he uses all these words to try and speed her up as they do not have forever.

There are words in stanza 3 that again compliment her ‘sits on thy skin like morning de’ he’s complimenting her on her youthful complexion, but as the day goes on morning dew starts to disappear and maybe he is suggestion her looks and complexion will wear away during the years, this is creating a loving and peaceful atmosphere unlike the one in stanza 2. in stanza 3 the writer also talks about the iron gates of life ‘through the iron gates of life’ the iron gates of life could mean he wants a child as the gates of life could be his mistresses womb, the writer is saying the can make the sun(time) ‘run'(go faster) try enjoying themselves to do this.

Rhyme scheme and rhythm

The effect of using rhyming couplets is that they are a couple and the narrator could be using this to point it out. The whole poem is written in iambic tetrameter. The effect of the caesura in line 27 symbolizes the silence of her tomb when she is dead.

The enjambment in the last but one line of the poem ‘thus, though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run.’ Gives the sense of time striding on.

Personal Response

I think that Marvell has written this poem very well and cleverly with the use of enjambment etc, he also introduces the character to be a man who wants one thing sex, he shows the narrator as a very manipulative clever man.

I think the narrator’s argument is a good one as he has waited so long for his mistress to get in bed and he cannot wait any longer.

Marvell makes the point about time and the brevity of human happiness very well.

Cousin Kate

I now intend to discuss ‘Cousin Kate’ I will compare this poem to ‘his coy mistress’.

This poem is a ballad. In the poem, we hear a voice of a woman who’s husband has betrayed her for her cousin.

In Victorian society the narrator of the poem was a ‘fallen women’ a fallen woman is someone who has lost her reputation by having an illegitimate child it is a coincidence that Rosseti was a volunteer at one of these. The main theme of this poem is relationship and betrayal. Before the narrator was seduced she was a ‘cottage maiden’ and ‘fair’ and a very traditional woman.

The lord seduced her by having a palace ‘he lured me to his palace home’ he also seduced her with love. The word lured means baited towards something so the narrator is treating her as a bit of meat.

The narrators tone or attitude in lines 5-8 are why did he have to find me to fill my heart with care why me i.e she is full of regret.

Stanza 2

In stanza 2 the author uses a paradox ‘to lead a shameless shameful life’ This brings up mixed feelings as she feels she hasn’t done anything wrong but she feels ashamed as now she is a fallen woman and has been labeled by society and does not get the respect she deserves.

In lines 5 to 6 in stanza 2 ‘ he wore me like a silken knot’ is a simile and it suggest that his love isn’t going to last as it is going to fall apart like a silken knot as silk is virtually impossible to make a knot in.

In line 8 in stanza 2 he uses a dove for effect ‘who might have been a dove’ a dove symbolizes purity and he took away her purity the theme of birds is used throughout this poem also ‘ you had the stronger wing’ in stanza 4

Stanza 3

The lords choose Cousin Kate because she grew fairer than her and she was good and pure. The narrator then went to a refugee for fallen women we gather.

In stanzas 4 and 5 the narrator is jealous of Cousin Kate as she is rich, pure and successful.

In stanzas 4 and 5 contrasts between Cousin Kate and the narrator ‘my love was true, your love was writ in sand’ what the narrator means by this is she genuinely loved the lord but Cousin Kate love was writ in sand and soon enough the tide will come in and wash away that love.

In stanza 4 the narrator uses a bird image ‘ you had a stronger wing’ what the narrator means by this is Cousin Kate is stronger richer and mainly she is still pure.

The narrator then mocks cousin Kate as the narrator has something she will never have the lords child ‘My fair hair son, my shame. My pride’ this is a paradox, the narrator uses this all her shame is in her son as he is a illegitimate child but its her pride as Cousin Kate will never have him.

In the last stanza the narrator says ‘cling closer, closer yet’ this shows the narrator thinks she loves him and does not want to lose him. In the last 2 lines it says’ your father would give lands for one to wear his coronet’ the child’s father wants to have and heir and his mother does not want him to steal him away from her but she must be having mixed feelings as she wants her son to be successful and wealthy. We can clearly see that in this poem ‘fallen women’ are treated badly as they are called ‘outcast thing’.


In his coy mistress there is a message which says why wait as we do not have forever. In Cousin Kate badly the mother of illegitimate children get treated and its about relationships and betrayal.

In both poems we hear 2 different voices in the first we hear a man desperate to get his lady into bed and in the second we hear about a woman who has been abandoned and betrayed by her own cousin.

In the first poem the audience is his mistress as in the second it is cousin kate and her son and the reader.

The narrators tone towards the audience is totally different as in ‘his coy mistress’ he is getting frustrated and in ‘Cousin Kate’ she is explaining to the reader then she is angry at Cousin Kate and then she boasts about her son and then she is calm speaking to her son again. In Cousin Kate from stanza 3 onwards the narrator is addressing herself towards Cousin Kate and then her son, In his coy mistress he is addressing his mistress.

The lord choose Cousin Kate as she was fairer and more beautiful and ‘had the stronger wing’ and the narrator we gather form the information got sent to a refugee for fallen woman. We gather from the information given to us that the narrator does not like Cousin Kate as if it was not for her she would still be pure and she feels she has been betrayed and cheated on by Cousin Kate.

In stanza 4 of Cousin Kate Rosseti uses imagery of a bird ‘you had the stronger wing’ this means that she was more stronger richer and stable than the narrator.

I think that the first message comes along more strongly to me as you do not have forever in your life to achieve and accomplish tasks as in Cousin Kate you can move on from one man and if you do not make love before you die you cannot go back and change that.

These two poems give us the impression that all men are after sex and the most beautiful women they can get as in his coy mistress he spends the whole poem talking about how much he wants her to make love with him and in Cousin Kate he married the Narrator thinking she was the most prettiest then she saw her cousin who was more beautiful and then went out with her.

I think I like Cousin Kate more than his Coy mistress as in Cousin Kate there is more than one audience as in his coy mistress it drags on speaking to the same audience but in Cousin Kate it makes you want to read on as there are more audiences. Therefore I think that I prefer Cousin Kate

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