What comparisons and contrasts can be drawn from Andrew Marvell's "A Picture of Little T.C. in a Prospect of Flowers" with Robert Herrick's "Corinna's Going A-Maying?"

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Let us focus on the way that both of these poems are said by an admiring speaker to the young woman of the title. Both, too, represent a pageant or a eulogy of the young woman's beauty. For example, Marvell describes little T. C. in the most glowing of terms, saying that she is "the darling of the Gods" and predicting the very many hearts that she will vanquish. In the same way, Herrick describes Corinna as being made beautiful by nature.

However, the central difference between these two poems is the way that Herrick's poem fits firmly into the "carpe diem" school of poetry. From the very beginning, the speaker is urging Corinna to get up and come out with him and make the most of the time that she has, for, as he reminds her:

We shall grow old apace, and die
Before we know our liberty.
Our life is short, and our days run
As fast away as does the sun.

Therefore, because of the brevity of our days, we should seek to make the most of the time we have. In contrast, Marvell's poem is more of a pageant concerning the beauty of T. C. and a plea that she will not pluck all the buds and thus invoke the wrath of Flora:

Lest Flora, angry at thy crime

To kill her infants in their prime,

Do quickly make th'example yours;

And ere we see,

Nip in the blossom all our hopes and thee.

Whilst this poem does focus, albeit briefly, on the mortality of its muse, at the same time this theme is much more fully developed in Herrick's poem.


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