Comparing Andrew Marvell's poem "To His Coy Mistress" and Robert Herrick's poem "To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time," what does each poet say about time and its effects on youth and beauty?
Describe what Marvell compares time to.
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Herrick's poem is a warning to young, beautiful, unmarried women to make the most of their time and marry young. He does not address it to any particular woman, other than young virgins. He uses to metaphor to compare the women's youthful beauty to flowers that will begin to die as they age: "And this same flower that smiles to-day/ To-morrow will be dying." He does make the implication that the women's beauty will run out as they grow older ("For having lost but once your prime"), which is why they should marry young: "Then be not coy, but use your time, And while ye may go marry."
Marvell's poem is a bit more personal. It's actually a seduction poem and the narrator is speaking directly to his coy (shy) mistress. He is basically telling her that her coyness (avoidance of having sex) would be fine if time were not running out for them. He compares time to death ("But at my back I always hear/ time's winged chariot hurrying near"), following behind them, ready to take them at any moment. Once they are dead, they will not have the opportunity to have sex, so they better do it now: "The grave's a fine and private place,/ But none I think do there embrace." He also suggests that they should act soon, before her beauty runs out when he says, "while the youthful hue/ Sits on thy skin like morning dew".
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