Compare and Contrast 'to His Coy Mistress' and 'Passionate Shepherd to His Love'

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Last updated: January 31, 2019

‘To His Coy Mistress’ Is a love poem by Andrew Marvel.

The poem is ‘carpe diem’ which translates to seize the day, this means the poem does not take its time its blunt and straight to the point. The poem contains a thesis, antithesis and synthesis, the main argument points of the poem. The poem is split into three stanza’s which are used to persuade the woman to give up her virginity before her beauty dies. It is a conventional poem for its time in the 17th century. In the first stanza Marvel introduces his mistress as the receiver of this poem. The first stanza is his thesis, the beginning of his argument.In this stanza Marvel tells his mistress what they could do if they had all the time in the world.

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He says if they had enough time her shyness would not affect his love for her, he would wait. Then he states how she could travel and what marvellous things she could do and have. Like going to India, or having precious stones like rubies which are also said to preserve a woman’s virginity. Marvel declares he would love this woman forever, from the beginning of time, “I would love you ten years before the flood” a biblical reference referring to Noah and the great flood.He also says he would love her till the end of time “Till the conversion of the Jews” the conversion of the Jews is said to be the end of time. Marvel then continues using flattery and compliments towards his mistress, “Thine eyes, and on they forehead gaze, two hundred to adore each breast”. In the last couple of lines he uses again allot of compliments and that she deserves his upmost respect and dignity, “nor would I love at lower rate” the would in this quote prepares us for the next stage of Marvel’s argument.

The next stanza of Marvel’s poem is the anti-thesis.In this stanza he describes how there is no time for her to do all these things he promised in the first stanza. He tries to persuade his mistress by saying time is passing to fast, “times winged chariot” He also emotionally blackmails her by saying if she waits o long she will lose her beauty and nobody will want her anymore, “Thy beauty shall no more be found”. In this stanza Marvel uses horrible imagery to scare his mistress. He tells her of a depressing future without him where she may not make love, “deserts of vast eternity” her virginity will mean nothing after she has died so she may as well give it to him he’s saying here.Marvel suggests she’s wealthy by using the term “marble vault” which is an expensive way of burying someone.

He tells her wealth will mean nothing in the after life and the only creatures taking her virginity will be worms “ then worms shall try that long preserved virginity” Here he uses disgusting imagery as another form of blackmail. The word “quaint” in this stanza shows he thinks she’s playing hard to get and they should just do it now. The pace has significantly quickened in this second stanza, marvel is doing this to emphasize time and how short it is and how long and boring death will be.The last part of Marvel’s argument is his synthesis.

In this third stanza Marvel attempts to solve the problem of his mistress’ shyness. Notice how in the firs stanzas he used the term “I” but now he uses the term “we” to describe their relationship. He tells how youth quickly goes “sits on thy skin like morning dew” therefore they should act quickly while they still hold the beauty of youth.

He tells how they should get together no to bet time and give in to desire. The poet uses the term “iron gates” for her virginity, he finishes with a clever play on words.He uses the term “son” which could mean to conceive a child or the sun a celestial body which gives us light. The second poem is another love poem ‘The Passionate Shepherd To His Love’ by Christopher Marlowe. There are many similarities and differences between the two poems. Both poems are love poems aimed at women, and both are trying to persuade. In ‘To His coy Mistress’ the poem is split into a thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis and is attempting t persuade a woman to give up her virginity. ‘Passionate Shepherd’ is set into a series of four line long tanzas which form an ideal rural world where a man wants his love to live with him.

Both poems are in first person narrative style to emphasize their thoughts and feeling towards their love’s. Throughout ‘Passionate Shepherd” rhyming couplets are used deliberately to persuade his woman, similar to ‘His Coy Mistress’. Both poems are poems of their times but could have different meanings due to being set in the 16th and 17th centaury’s.

Both poems contain declarations of love and both attempt to persuade in a personal way.Also both Poems offer gifts or nice promises to they’re women if they are to cooperate. Differences exist between the two poems throughout, we see ‘Passionate Shepherd’ is a lyrical poem when ‘To His Coy Mistress’ is a carpe diem poem consisting of three steps of argument. The styles of the poets also differ, Christopher Marlowe using simple and understandable language while Andrew Marvel uses formal complicated language. Therefore the styles of the poems differ also.

Christopher Marlowe uses the senses in his poem such as smell hear and see, “Melodious birds sing Madrigals’.He also uses repetition at the start of ever stanza “come live with me and be my love” this emphasizes his great love and the fact he wishes for her to come live with him. He also repeats this so she will not forget his message quickly. The attitudes also differ between poems due to the time period i. e. the 16th centaury dream of living in the idyllic world of a shepherd.

In a different style ‘To His Coy Mistress’ attempts to persuade, I notice it includes biblical illusions of Noah and the flood.Also the poem includes mythical illusions to create images, “times winged chariot hurrying near”. The way of persuading Marvel uses is simple yet brilliant in the way he brings his words to life. This creates more of a chance his mistress would actually listen to his message. The feelings in each poem differ, ‘Passionate Shepherd’ being happy throughout creates a relaxing mood. Making it extremely romantic. “and we will all the pleasures prove”.

In ‘to his coy mistress’ the mood is changed in each stanza from happy, scary to sexual in each different stanza.This leaves the reader feeling unsettled afterwards. The poems are of course set in different places. ‘Passionate shepherd’ is set in an idyllic countryside retreat making it peaceful and lovely and extremely persuasive environment with all the pleasures of nature mentioned. In ‘To his coy mistress’ the setting is changed. In the first stanza he makes his mistress sound exotic in India while he is beside the river Humber in England.

Then in the second stanza the setting of the scary graveyard. And to finish a setting in the present, here and now.The images the two poets use contrast, Marvel using scary blackmail imagery while Marlowe uses happy countryside imagery. In my opinion both poems succeed in being very persuasive but ‘To His Coy Mistress’ is of higher standard. The imagery in the poem is exquisite leaving the reader in awe on occasions.

The way Marvel uses this imagery to persuade, shock and scare is fantastic and I can imagine would have been extremely effective in the 17th centaury when people were not used to such vivid imagery.


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