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The sun appears in both "To the Virgins, To Make the Most of Time" by Robert Herrick...

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t521863 | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted February 5, 2012 at 12:30 AM via web

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The sun appears in both "To the Virgins, To Make the Most of Time" by Robert Herrick and "To his Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell. How does each poet use the sun?

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misslacey | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted February 5, 2012 at 5:47 AM (Answer #1)

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In the poem's final stanza, Marvell compares them both to "am'rousbirds of prey" making love in the sky. He creates the image of them balled up together and soaring through the air: "Let us roll all our strength, and all Our sweetness, up into one ball; And tear our pleasures with rough strife Thorough the iron gates of life." He then adds: "Thus, though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run." He is saying that they cannot stop the sun from rising and death from drawing near, so instead they should make the most of time, and make time feel it needs to keep up with them. His use of the sun and the birds combined also adds a natural element to his argument. Just as the birds have sex under the sun, so should he and his mistress. It's only natural. Herrick also uses the sun to convince the virgins to marry, but he uses it differently. He actually is indirectly comparing the women to the sun: "The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun, The higher he's a-getting, The sooner will his race be run, And nearer he's to setting." He is using metaphor to tell them they are like the sun and the older they get, they are basically losing their game (their beauty, their power), and soon they will be near death, or too old to marry. This is a perfect comparison for him because the sun is beautiful and bright, like young women. It is also the ultimate clock, since it rises and sets each day. A single day is a relatively short measure of time, which is another reason this is a good comparison for the women. It creates more of a sense of urgency (the time of your youth will come and go in what feels like only a day's time.)


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