Comparing Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress and Herrick’s To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

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Comparing Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress and Robert Herrick’s To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Ever since the beginning of time, love has played an enormous role among humans. Everyone feels a need to love and to be loved. Some attempt to fill this yearning with activities and possessions that will not satisfy – with activities in which they should not participate and possessions they should not own. In Andrew Marvell’s poem, “To His Coy Mistress,” the speaker encounters an emotion some would call love but fits better under the designation of lust for a woman. In contrast, the speaker of Robert Herrick’s poem, “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time,” urges virgins to marry, to make a lasting commitment in which love plays a
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While the lustful lover of Marvell’s poem also bases his “love” on physical beauty, the speaker in Herrick’s poem neither condones nor condemns this societal standard, but simply acknowledges its existence. Because he realizes beauty plays a huge role in society’s standards for marriage, he urges the virgins he addresses to “go marry” (14). He explains that they “may for ever tarry” if they do not marry “when youth and blood are warmer” and they are in their “prime” (16,10,15). After all, who wants to marry some gnarly old woman?

The speaker in Herrick’s poem makes a reasonable request, urging virgins to marry. On the contrary, the infatuated boyfriend in Marvell’s poem makes an unreasonable request, even for today. In essence, the speaker of Marvell’s poem asks his girlfriend to lie with him. Even if God deemed fornication an acceptable practice, the speaker shows no true love for his girlfriend. The Bible explains, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). The speaker shows absolutely no patience and looks out only for himself, clearly indicating he has no love, as 1 Corinthians describes it. Jesus
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