-To His Coy Mistress-

Andrew Marvell

Born on the 31st of March, 1621, in Yorkshire, Marvell was educated at Hull grammar school until he moved on to Trinity College, Cambridge. However, his father died in 1641 and this stunted his chances of attaining academic greatness. He spent many years abroad as a tutor and, upon returning to England, he worked as tutor to Mary, the daughter of Lord Fairfax, from 1651 to 1652, a time in which we see him produce some good works such as ‘Upon Appleton House’ and ‘The Garden’. 


From 1657, Marvell served as a tutor to Oliver Cromwell’s ward, William Dutton, and he also became assistant to John Milton as Latin secretary. He was then elected member of parliament for Hull, which he held until his death, and his support for Cromwell was mustering inside him. However, after the restoration of Charles II in 1660, Marvell saw to produce more satirical poetry rather than the odes he dedicated to parliament and so forth. He was not supportive of monarchical power. 


Marvell’s poems were all published posthumously, starting in 1681 after his housekeeper found a manuscript volume. His death was recorded on the 16th of August, 1678, in London. 


The poem recalls the efforts of a man who was insisting on his lover’s affection, written from his perspective. The unnamed “Coy Mistress” refuses to sleep with the speaker, and his response is to tell her that, had he enough time, he could spend entire centuries admiring her beauty and her innocence. With human life being short and not allowing centuries of consecutive life, he does not have enough time. Marvell uses a guilt tripping as his method to gain physical affection, and states that they should enjoy each other now while they still can.

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