What is the structure of the poem "To His Coy Mistress"?

Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" is structured as a one-stanza poem written in iambic tetrameter and organized into rhyming couplets. It can be considered a dramatic monologue.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"To His Coy Mistress" was written by the English poet Andrew Marvell and was originally published in 1681, three years after Marvell's death. It is often presented as a three-stanza poem; however, Marvell originally wrote one single stanza, which is separated into three parts or poetic paragraphs that consist of forty-six lines. The second part starts with line 21, and the third part starts with line 33. Each line has four iambic feet, or iambs; thus the poem is a non-stanzaic iambic tetrameter poem. It also rhymes in couplets and follows an AABB rhyme scheme.

Due to its interesting structure, the poem is often considered a dramatic monologue and a three-part argument, as the speaker presents three arguments to convince his beloved to sleep with him.

Because of the way the speaker tries to persuade his "coy," or shy, mistress to give up her virginity and enjoy the pleasures of life while she still has her youth and beauty, "To His Coy Mistress" is commonly regarded as a "carpe diem," or "seize the day," poem. The main themes in this type of poetry are love, lust, satisfaction, the passing of time, and the imminence of death. Due to the use of conceits, allusions, and metaphors, "To His Coy Mistress" is also classified as a metaphysical poem.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial