If you were the lady in "To His Coy Mistress" how would you respond to the speaker? Why? 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What seems incongruous about this playful carpe diem poem is the fact that the poet Andrew Marvell was the son of a Puritan minister and tutor to the ward of the Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell. Knowing this, a young woman responding to his speaker might, then, question the firmness of his purpose in proposing that they "sport while [they] may"; indeed, she may suppose that the young man is testing her resolve to remain chaste or simply playing with words. 

Another thing that questions the speaker's serious intent upon "devouring time" and "rolling" all their energies into "one ball" is his use of hyperbole and his insistence that if they do not "sport" now, it may be too late. To this plea, the young lady may well reply with the words of Friar Laurence as he addresses the equally impulsive Romeo who insists after one night of knowing Juliet that they be married by the friar:

These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which, as they kiss, consume. The sweetest honey
Is loathsome in his own deliciousness
And in the taste confounds the appetite.
Therefore love moderately. Long love doth so.
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow. (2.6.9-15)
Friar Laurence cautions Romeo against sudden joys which often have equally sudden ends. Moderation, he urges, is the key to lasting love. Perhaps, as the speaker of Marvell's poem suggests, the lady is too reluctant to be physically demonstrative of her love; however, too fast--"like amorous birds of prey"--is equally as detrimental as it is too slow. She, then, can reply with a verse about moderation. In fact, there has been one written: "His Coy Mistress to Mr. Marvell" by A.D. Hope.
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To His Coy Mistress

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