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To His Coy Mistress: Beneath the Romance
Few would argue that on the surface level of Marvel's "To His Coy Mistress" the speaker is a lover advancing a conventional 'carpe diem' line of thought. He systematically reasons with his desired object about the futility of delaying their interlude when the hours available to them are limited, but the lyric may simultaneously function as a metaphor for Marvel's endeavors as a metaphysical poet. Metaphysical writers view poetry as an intellectual exercise, an opportunity to develop ideas in a logical, argumentative structure; for them, the object of poetry is not to serve as an outlet for an effusion of emotional sentiments. If one approaches "To a Coy Mistress" as a discussion of the pressures which time places upon a writer, Marvel's apostrophe takes on an ironic twist. He uses his analytical skills to coax his writing to manifest his intended desires, providing a playful look at the connection between a man and his work. Complicating this relationship is the necessity of negotiating under the terms and constraints of an outside third party: time. Marvel battles to balance his time between his public occupation as a member of the British Parliament, the Hull, and his more private pursuits as a writer. The superficially apparent pleas of a lover seeking a relationship serve as a mirror to Marvel's struggle to conquer his artistic prowess.
The poem itself contains three distinct components of argumentation, all which...