How does Andrew Marvell indicate love in his poem "To His Coy Mistress"?

Andrew Marvell indicates love in "To His Coy Mistress" through both exaggeration and appeals to fear and urgency. Marvell's speaker stresses to his beloved that life is short. He uses the "carpe diem" or "seize the day" theme, emphasizing that old age and death are swiftly coming.

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Marvell's speaker expresses love in "To His Coy Mistress" first through hyperbole or exaggeration. He wants his beloved to make love to him and tries to persuade her by means of extravagant praise. He says he would gladly spend a "hundred years" praising her eyes, and two hundred on each breast, and finally 30,000 years on her whole form, suggesting the extent to which he adores her body.

However, Marvell's speaker points out there isn't time for that, which leads to the second way he tries to persuade his beloved to sleep with him: fear and urgency. He says repeatedly that he hears "Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near." Life is fleeting and eternity is "vast." She could die at any time. Her corpse would not be able to enjoy any pleasure in the tomb. Employing what is called the "carpe diem" or "seize the day" theme, he advises her to take her pleasures today, because tomorrow is uncertain. He envisions the two of them

roll[ing] all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball
In short, he argues that they should find pleasure while they can.
The speaker makes a compelling argument about how swiftly time passes, but readers might question whether he is actually indicating "love." Love arguably puts the needs of the beloved ahead of one's own desires. The speaker, with his emphasis on seduction, sound as if he may primarily wish to satisfy his own lust.
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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