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The Brevity of Life: A Short Analysis of Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress by gandhibaba

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· @gandhibaba ·
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The Brevity of Life: A Short Analysis of Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress
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**Life is short and unpredictable; one must therefore enjoy every moment as it lasts. This is the central theme in **To His Coy Mistress**, a fine poem written by the British poet, Andrew Marvell, and published posthumously in 1681. The narrator in the poem has fallen in love with a lady who seems to be too shy to reciprocate. The narrator, consequently, writes to his lover, telling her about the shortness of life; about the vanity of life and why they must enjoy life while it lasts.**

### Summary
**The narrator opens the poem by telling his lover that had time not been a scarce commodity he would tolerate her shyness:**

> *Had we but world enough and time,* 
This coyness, lady, were no crime.* 

The narrator proceeds to tell his lover how he would express his love if he had surplus time:
> *We would sit down, and think which way* 
*To walk, and pass our long love’s day.* 
*Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side*
*Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide* 
*Of Humber would complain. I would* 
*Love you ten years before the flood,* 
*And you should, if you please, refuse* 
*Till the conversion of the Jews.* 
*My vegetable love should grow* 
*Vaster than empires and more slow;* 

**The narrator goes further to tell his lover how he would lavish time praising different parts of her body if he had enough time:**

> *An hundred years should go to praise* 
*Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;*
*Two hundred to adore each breast,* 
*But thirty thousand to the rest;*
*An age at least to every part,* 
*And the last age should show your heart.* 
*For, lady, you deserve this state,*
*Nor would I love at lower rate.*

Suddenly, the narrator tells his lover that there is no time, for death is imminent:
> *But at my back I always hear*
*Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;* 
*And yonder all before us lie*
*Deserts of vast eternity.*

**Here the narrator tells his lover about the power of death; how Death is capable of rendering everything useless, including his lust and the beauty of his lover:**

> *Thy beauty shall no more be found;* 
*Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound* 
*My echoing song; then worms shall try*
*That long-preserved virginity,*
*And your quaint honour turn to dust,* 
*And into ashes all my lust;*
*The grave’s a fine and private place,*
*But none, I think, do there embrace.*

**Finally, the narrator spends the last part of his poem admonishing his lover to allow them enjoy their youthful life while it lasts. The narrator tells his lover that while they may not be able to stop time, they can enjoy every moment while it lasts:**
> *Now therefore, while the youthful hue* 
*Sits on thy skin like morning dew,* 
*And while thy willing soul transpires*
*At every pore with instant fires,*
*Now let us sport us while we may,*
*And now, like amorous birds of prey,*
*Rather at once our time devour* 
*Than languish in his slow-chapped power.*
*Let us roll all our strength and all* 
*Our sweetness up into one ball,*
*And tear our pleasures with rough strife* 
*Through the iron gates of life:*
*Thus, though we cannot make our sun*
*Stand still, yet we will make him run*

Image sourced from Google
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