“To His Coy Mistress” is an erotic poem that celebrates life, beauty, love, and
sexual pleasures. The speaker desires to enjoy love with his mistress forever, but he
understands that this is impossible as there is no eternity aspect in life. Basically, the
speaker emphasizes the importance of enjoying the pleasures of life without restraint
before death arrives. The speaker’s argument is valid; death is an irresistible force that
cannot be controlled, and we have no idea of when it will arrive. Therefore, we should
enjoy the various pleasures of life while alive before it’s too late. However, the idea of
the speaker can be refuted. He suggests that we should enjoy all the pleasures of life,
but I believe we should be very selective about what we enjoy. We should consider
what is right and what is wrong and maximize doing what is right before death arrives.
“To His Coy Mistress” poem in some aspect is a satire. Satire involves the
application of humor, exaggeration and irony in presenting an idea (Harris 2) . The
poem is based on exaggerations, which the speaker utilizes in trying to get his virgin
mistress to bed. One point where the speaker applies satire is where he says: “A
hundred years should go to praise Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze; Two hundred
to adore each breast…” (Marvell 12-14) He applies this exaggeration with the aim of
trying to have sexual pressure with his mistress. Marvel also applies hyperbole in this
poem. At one point the speaker says that he has 100 years to praise his mistress and
200 more to adore her body. Literally, this is an exaggeration, and we all know that no
one can live for 300 years. Another point where hyperbole is applied is where the
speaker says, “My vegetable love should grow Vaster than empires and more slow.”
(Marvell 11) Definitely, the speaker does not mean it when he says so. He just applied
exaggeration intending to win the heart of his mistress. The speaker applies hyperbole
to make the poem more interesting and captivating (Claridge 257) . Hyperboles make
literature beauty and captivating and that catches the attention of the reader.
Although he understands that pleasure cannot defeat death, the speaker
concludes that it still the only reasonable response to death. Regardless, he
recognizes death to be an irresistible force. As evidence, he explains that if they are
not to enjoy sexual pressures with her woman, her virginity would be enjoyed by
worms after death, which is forever.
Claridge, Claudia. Hyperbole in English: A Corpus-based Study of Exaggeration.
Harris, Robert. “The Purpose and Method of Satire.” Virtual Salt (2018).
Marvell, Andrew. To His Coy Mistress. 1681.