To His Coy Mistress Study Guide
Introduction to To His Coy Mistress
Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” is a carpe diem poem composed in the mid-seventeenth century and published posthumously in 1681. The poem’s speaker urges his beloved to give in to his amorous advances. If they had unlimited time, their courtship could unfold at the slowest conceivable pace, with the speaker praising his beloved in great detail for thousands of years. But “Time’s wingèd chariot [is] hurrying near,” and so he argues that if she continues in her coy behaviors, they will be overtaken by the forces of Time.
“To His Coy Mistress” is exemplary of the work of the Metaphysical poets, who favored a cerebral, metaphorically dense style that often took a light-hearted tone. Indeed, Marvell’s poem is humorous in its satire of the classic courtly love poem and notable for its memorable phrases and wide-ranging metaphors, which have been alluded to by numerous poets and writers.
A Brief Biography of Andrew Marvell
Andrew Marvell (1621–1678) was a British poet and satirist. Marvell was educated at Trinity College in Cambridge, and he spent several years after his graduation travelling throughout Europe and working as a tutor. Politically, Marvell was a supporter of the republicans during the English Civil War, who sought to overthrow the British monarchy and replace it with a parliamentary system. Many of his poems are considered satirical works that criticized the monarchy and the state of the nation. However, following the reinstatement of the monarchy in 1660, he avoided punishment and showed his support for King Charles II. Notably, Marvell is credited with helping his fellow republican and poet John Milton avoid repercussions as well. A metaphyiscal poet, Marvell was especially known for his vibrant imagery and biting, satirical language. His most famous poems include "To His Coy Mistress" and "An Horatian Ode."