How does Andrew Marvell use language to seduce in "To His Coy Mistress"? 

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Marvell's narrator uses hyperbole, metaphor and imagery to seduce his coy (shy) mistress. The first stanza is filled with hyperbole or exaggeration as he describes how he would woo her if there were only endless time and space. He would praise her eyes for a hundred years and each breast for two hundred years and spend 30,000 years praising the rest of her body. He would then take her to India, at the time an extremely long journey (comparable to offering to take someone to Mars today) to woo her by the Ganges river and find her rubies. However, as he notes, they don't have that kind of time. In one of the most famous couplets of the 17th century, he tells her:

But at my back I always hear/Time's winged chariot hurrying near.

Here, he's used the metaphor of time as a winged chariot--a 17th century version of an airplane--to convey to her how fast time travels. He wants her to feel the very fast speed at which times passes. He wants her to seize the day.

He moves from the chariot image of time speeding to pivot into images of death, describing how, if they wait, they might end up dying. He uses images of "worms," "ashes," "dust" and graves to reinforce the message. If they don't seize the moment now, he warns, they may have missed it, and have all eternity as dust before them. 

Therefore, he says, they should "roll" their strength and sweetness "into one ball," while they can, and force the sun to rush to catch up with them. In painting such vivid scenes of the time they don't have, of death, and of the pleasures they could have together now, he hopes to persuade her not to wait. 



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To His Coy Mistress

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