Comparing Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress and John Donne's Flea

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Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress and John Donne’s Flea

Andrew Marvell and John Donne both wrote “carpe diem” poetry full of vivid imagery and metaphysical conceits. This message can be clearly seen in the poems "To His Coy Mistress" by Marvell and Donne’s "Flea." Though both poems take a similar approach to the topic addressed, it is Marvell that writes more thoughtfully and carefully, coercing instead of Donne’s seemed demanding\begging.

The speaker in “Coy Mistress” is trying to convince his woman of choice that it is much better to have sex now than to save her virginity for the future. Why save it until they are married? The man wants to experience the pleasure now. Marvell’s message here seems to be that instead of
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But the narrator stays determined, and proceeds to show how insignificant sex is, just as it was to kill the flea.

The rhyme scheme of “Mistress” follows a standard rhyming couplet pattern, though a few of the lines are irregular. Lines 23 and 24 rhyme "lie" with "eternity," and lines 27 and 28 rhyme "try" with "virginity." It is interesting to note that lie rhymes with try, just as eternity rhymes with virginity. Marvell used this technique to change up the systemic flow of the rest of the poem. By doing this, the symbolism present have a greater impact on the reader. Images of "deserts of vast eternity" and "virginity" together instill the idea that it will be difficult to prolong virginity.

Marvell uses spondaic meter as well as iambic tetrameter. "Shall sound," the last two words of line 26, are both stressed. "Rough Strife," the last words of line 43, are also both stressed. The use of spondee helps to switch up the tempo of the poem and also fits the context of the lines. Lines 39-41 deal with time:

Rather at once our time devour,

Than languish in his slow-chapped power.

Let us roll all our strength and all

These lines actually produce the effect of slowing time down. "Languish in his slow-chapped power” when spoken out-loud, the line reads almost as if it were in slow motion. Line 41 is almost entirely composed of stressed feet, requiring the reader to speak slowly as well. All
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