To His Coy Mistress Questions and Answers
by Andrew Marvell

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In Marvell's poem, "To His Coy Mistress," how does each division differ in terms of tone and imagery?

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In Andrew Marvell's poem, "To His Coy Mistress," there are three different and specific sections presented in the speaker's argument, addressed to the young woman who is the object of the poem.

In the first stanza, the tone is somewhat sarcastic. If we had all the time in the world we could do these things: she could collect rubies and he could waste his time complaining of home. They could love for countless years (reference to Flood and Jewish conversion), and he could worship her body for more than thirty thousand years. The images used are excessive. Once again, the Flood (and he adds ten years to that), and the conversion of the Jews to Christianity. His love like a plant could grow larger than empires (this is also excessive). He would love various parts of her body for an exceptionally long period of time. This is all based, of course, on the argument that time is not an issue at all.

In the second stanza, the tone changes. Here the speaker announces that time IS of the essence: there is not an endless supply of years before them. The only thing the passage of time will guarantee them if they don't act, is death and decay. It is a dead-end if they fail to act. Images here talk about the marble vault (a burial chamber, cold and final); he speaks of the worms doing their job to return the body to dust, as well as her virginity and honour.

Finally, the tone shifts once again: the speaker is almost...

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