In "To His Coy Mistress," why does the speaker leave behind the biblical frame as he moves beyond the poem's beginning?the beginning refers to a biblical sense of time, and would be...

In "To His Coy Mistress," why does the speaker leave behind the biblical frame as he moves beyond the poem's beginning?

the beginning refers to a biblical sense of time, and would be understood to comprise the time from the beginning to the end of the world. Why does the speaker leave behind the biblical frame as he moves beyond the poem's beginning?

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pmiranda2857's profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Using bibical references in the beginning of this poem is designed to show the woman how much he loves her and that he is expressing this in a revered form.  He is appealing to her reserve and her right to be coy and shy and tries to convince her of how righteous his love is by quoting the bible and claiming eternal love.  He drops this form of language because he feels that he has wooed her or gotten her attention sufficiently to express his true feelings, his passion of the moment.  How both of them are fading with the passing of time and that they did not have a moment to lose, to engage in a passionate embrace immediately.  He tells her, since I love you with an eternal passion, there is no time to lose, I grow older by the minute, please let me love you for as long as I can, it is what you deserve.

azphstchr's profile pic

azphstchr | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

The speaker refers to the sense of biblical time in the beginning of the poem because at the time it was written most people were aware of the contents of the Bible and knew about such events as Noah's ark during the flood (in the first book of the Bible, Genesis) and the "conversion of the Jews" which is told about in the book of Revelation (the last book of the Bible).  Since the young lady (and the reader) would understand the content that he is referring to, it substantiates his plea that if he had all that time (from the beginning of the earth, to the end) that he would use the thousands of years at his disposal to win her over.  He changes from this biblical time frame at the beginning to emphasize the here and now, or life at the present time.  His poem is interrupted in the next two stanzas by emphasizing the present tense.  Each begins with a dramatic contrast that leads into the present time at hand, such as "But at my back I always hear, time's winged chariot hurrying near;"  and "Now therefore, while the youthful hue, sits on thy skin like morning dew..."

His argument stands that, in fact, they do not have all the time in the world, from the days of creation to the return of Christ, and that they should use the time that they have to pursue each other passionately before the hour glass of their lives together runs out.   

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