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This paper will focus on the literary analysis of the poem “To His Coy Mistress” written by the British author Andrew Marvell. This poem is considered one of the Marvell's best poems and is sometimes called a metaphysical poem due to its relation to metaphysics. This paper will mostly focus on the general tone of the poem which differs throughout this literary work. The general tone, language and expression of the poem helps to reveal the author's message to readers and understand the poem better. The tone of the poem ranges from the irony and mockery to personal and passionate tone of the lover.
Marvell's tone and voice is of greater importance for the analysis of the poem than the general setting and imaginary, though it is also important for the overall understanding of the poem and the author's message. Due to the fact that this is a metaphysical poem, it includes both irony and wit and elaborate comparisons in order to reveal the nature of poem and help readers to understand it. The tone of poem differs greatly while reading and understanding the poem.
Thus, at the beginning of the poem where the narrator wants to receive the woman's passion and love, the tone is rather calm, but with the elements of persistence. Marvell claimed that “had we but world enough, and time, this coyness were no crime..” (Marvell 1). On the one hand, the narrator highlights the idea that the time is passing and there is no time to wait, but on the other hand he persists on relations. Marvell divided his poem into three parts having various tone and approach to time. The reader should consider this idea and be ready to distinguish those parts in order to compare tone present in various parts of the poem under analysis.
In the first part of the poem, “the speaker philosophizes about time in relation to the mistress' beauty” (Schulze 6). The tone of this part differs greatly from all other parts, as here the narrator does not only praise the beauty and feelings of the young lady, but also claims that he will wait for her for a long period of time, for the whole eternity. The poem was constructed to the climax effect in order to attract the reader to the general discussion and setting of the poem. In two other parts, the tone of the poem receives some elements of irony and even mocking on the young lady changing the general flow of the poem.
In this part of the poem, the young man even compares his love with vegetables forcing the idea of more serious relations with his mistress. Marvell stated “my vegetable love should grow vaster than empires, and more slow...” (Marvell 1). Exaggeration of facts and the narrator's feelings also occupy the proper place in the present poem. The narrator wants to impress his mistress with the help of words, not deeds and when he did not receive an adequate response on his feelings he started to mock on the young woman with the help of irony and various comparisons of shocking imaginary.
Some common examples of these shocking issues and ideas are “worms shall try that long preserved virginity...”, “your quaint honor turn to dust and into ashes all my lust...” (Marvell 1). Thus, the general tone of the poem was changed immediately from calm and simply in the first part into mocking and ironic in the second part of the poem where the narrator started to insult and young girl through the use of numerous metaphors and comparisons making this process more vivid and vital for people reading the poem. The tone of the poem is mostly understood through the imaginary presented within the poem.
The tone of the third, concluding part of the poem also differs from previous parts, as it also became calm. The narrator insists on the idea of being together and enjoying pleasure of each other at the present period of time, as time passes and people should be ready to catch the time and do not waste a minute. The tone of this part is rather not insisting, but requesting. Marvell asks the young woman “let us roll all our strength, and all our sweetness, up into one ball” (Marvell 2). The tone of the poem is equivalent to the mood of the poem helping to get involved into the general discussion and imaginary.
The tone of the poem is mostly dependent on the imaginary presented within the poem. The setting of the poem does not have a specific place in which people interact with each other. The dialogue is mostly developed between two characters, the young man trying to gain love of the young lady who does not answer positively on his remarks. Ravitch stated that “this famous “carpe diem” poem has sardonic and cerebral tone” developed by Marvell (Ravitch 65). The general tone of the poem was developed mostly by the author and presented vividly for the general understanding of the poem.
Marvell used the so-called balance and mixture of tones, as this helped mostly to combine serious atmosphere and setting with more joyful one. Due to the fact that the tone and the mood of the poem were mostly linked with each other, readers should be aware of various parts in the poem where various tones were implemented by the author. Surprising tone may be also felt at the end of the novel, as after mockery and irony presented in the second part, readers may be surprised to feel some relief and inspiring atmospheric at the end of the poem “To His Coy Mistress”. Marvell presented people's hope for better relations and future with the help of the sun, as “though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run” (Marvell 2). Thus, Marvell tied his language to his voice and imaginary allowing readers to understand the poem better.
Donno highlighted the proportion and balance of tones in the poem under analysis, as Marvell always found “a proper degree of seriousness for every subject he treats, never taking it too seriously or lightly” (Donno 18). Marvell tried to present the dramatic sense of characters' relations, as the young man insisted on relations, while the young lady needed some time to think the proposition over. There is no mention of “love or gaze of adoration” in the final part of the poem, as the author succeeded to show the male power over female one (Wilcher 43).
Marvell did not only present the power of love and sexual desire, but also the power of time on people. This paper focused on the analysis of the poem “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell, mostly on the tone of the present poem. Readers may divide the poem into three parts, each of which contains different tone and mood. This may be seen not only with the help of imaginary, but also with the narrator's words and ideas. Marvell succeeded to combine irony and wit in vital manner and attract readers to reading this poem. The narrator expressed his growing desire of appropriate relations with the young lady trying to achieve his goal with the help of various methods.
Donno, Elizabeth Story. Andrew Marvell: The Critical Heritage. New York: Routledge, 1996. Print.
Marvell, Andrew. “To His Coy Mistress” and Other Poems. New York: Courier Dover Publications, 1997. Print.
Ravitch, Diane. The English Reader: What Every Literate Person Needs to Know. Cambridge: Oxford University Press, 2006. Print.
Schulze, Daniela. John Donne - “The Flea” and Andrew Marvell - “To His Coy Mistress”. Berlin: GRIN Verlag, 2008. Print.
Wilcher, Robert. Andrew Marvell. New York: CUP Archive, 1985. Print.