To His Coy Mistress Questions and Answers
by Andrew Marvell

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What figurative language does Andrew Marvell use in "To His Coy Mistress"?

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Time is personified in the poem—meaning it is given human attributes such as the ability to drive a chariot or to purposely pursue us to our deaths. The speaker says that "Time's winged chariot [is] hurrying near," meaning that he and his coy mistress, who evidently will not consent to have sex with him, do not have all the time in the world, and so he wishes to hurry along their intimacy.

He says that her "marble vault," the place where she will be buried, will house the "worms" that will "try" her "long-preserved virginity." It's rather a gross image, that her body will be invaded by worms after death, and it seems to carry some sexual meaning as well, as worms are sometimes employed as phallic symbols. The implication is that she will be penetrated by something, and wouldn't she wish it to be her living lover rather than worms, after she is dead?

He says, further, that all his lust will turn to "ashes" at that time, as though it will have been completely burned up—sexual passion is...

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