Compare The Treatment Of The Themes Of Love And Time In The poems To His Coy Mistress And Sonnet 18

When reading the two poems I found that To His Coy Mistress and Sonnet 18 are both very well structured. The authors Andrew Marvell and William Shakespeare show their views very well. The points they showed were love, life and death.

The author of ‘To His Coy Mistress’ Andrew Marvell shows and uses a persuasive argument. A persuasive quote such as ‘let us sport us wile we may’ means let us do it while we have the opportunity. Shakespeare however is trying to immortalise the beauty of his love and the true amount of love he shows for him.

Shakespeare on the other hand wants to ‘suck up’ to his love.

The two poems I have studied both have reference to time and love. Shakespeare writes his poem using romantic love. However, Marvell uses a different kind of approach and uses passionate love as his base. When Shakespeare writes his he describes and praises his lover. This lover is to be found as a young man.

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Compared to Shakespeare, Marvell’s poem is based around his lover. He is creating an image of her but not describing her. Shakespeare is trying to show that his lover is out of anyone’s reach, Marvell doesn’t get this point across to the reader. In sonnet 18 one part reads, ‘thy eternal summer shall not fade’. This shows that his lover, who was a young man is not going to go and will always be there for him. To His Coy Mistress has a part which reads ‘tear our pleasures with rough strife/ Through the iron gates of life’, this highlights that they should make the most of time.

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Andrew Marvell ‘To His Coy Mistress’ argues he would accede with his loved one’s every demand, but at this stage time and death don’t allow this. At the end of his poem there is a final rhyming couplet which helps sum up the argument and this is, ‘Thus, though we cannot make our son/ Stand still, yet we will make him run’.

Sonnet 18’s final two lines is a rhyming couplet. ‘So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,/ so long lives this, and this gives life to thee’. It emphasises that Shakespeare has made up his mind about the young man. This is his conclusion to the question ‘Shall I compare thee t a summer’s day?’

In Sonnet 18 there are altogether three quartets and a final rhyming couplet. This is not what Marvell did though. He segmented his piece into a tripartite structure of three paragraphs. Both poems conclude with a rhyming couplet. In ‘To His Coy Mistress’ there are three main cornerstones. These are ‘if’, ‘but’ and ‘therefore’.

Shakespeare starts the poem with a metaphoric question in line one asking if he should compare the man to a summer’s day. This asks if he should compare the beauty of a summer’s day to the beauty of the young man about whom Shakespeare is writing. Line two of this poem states “Thou art more lovely and more temperate.” Temperate is used as a synonym for moderate by the author. In line two the speaker is describing the man as more lovely and more moderate than a summer’s day. This emphasizes the man’s beauty and how the man is viewed by the speaker. Line three, “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,” tells why the man’s beauty is greater than that of a summer’s day. Shakespeare uses “rough winds” to symbolize imperfections. The speaker is implying that there are no imperfections in the young man, but there are in the summer, so the man cannot be compared to a summer’s day. In line four the speaker adds to this thought by saying that the summer also does not last as long as the man’s beauty therefore it cannot be compared to it. Line five states another imperfection of the summer.

Shakespeare uses “the eye of heaven” as a metaphor in this line to describe the sun. In line six Shakespeare uses the phrase “gold complexion dimmed” to describe the sun again which means that sometimes the sun is not hot enough, and that, as said in line five, sometimes the sun is too hot. In lines seven and eight the speaker ends the complication by describing how nature is never perfect. Line nine starts the resolution of the poem by using the conjunction “but”. “Eternal summer” in line nine is referring back to the man’s eternal beauty, using summer to symbolize beauty, and saying that the man’s beauty will never fail like the summer’s beauty. In lines ten, eleven, and twelve the speaker says that the man, “When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st” (line 12) or when he grows old, will not lose possession of what is fair to him, and “Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade” (line 11) or he will not be poor in health and close to dying. Lines thirteen and fourteen say that as long as this poem is read, the man’s beauty will never go away, because every time someone reads the poem they will be reminded of his beauty.

In ‘To His Coy Mistress’ there are a numerous use of metaphors. In line 11 ‘My Vegetable love shall grow’ the speaker compares his love to vegetative growth, which is slow and unconscious. Of course, this metaphor is ironic because it is in the conditional tense; the speaker knows that he does not have world enough or time, and his impassioned love grows quickly and consciously. In line 22 ‘Time’s winged chariot hurrying near’. The winged chariot is a metaphor for the power of time, for the speed of time (a winged chariot could presumably move quickly), and for the inevitability of time (the sun rises and sets regularly every day). The metaphor expands and enhances “time flies” and sets the darker tone of the second section of the speaker’s argument. In line 35 ‘And while thy willing soul transpires/ At every pore with instant fires,’ explains the lover’s soul breathes through her body with “instant fires,” obviously not intended as literal flames on her skin, but rather to demonstrate how the feeling of ardent desire is like heat.

In the first and last paragraphs of Marvell’s poem, geographical and biblical references are used to create a better image. ‘I would/ Love you ten years before the flood’ is used as a biblical metaphor. This relates to Noah and the ark. ‘Times winged chariot’ explains all. It shows that time is running out, but he still has time to express his love. Shakespeare’s final two lines basically answers the question. The question is the first line of the poem. It explains that he has made his mind up. Both the poems are written to a person whom they love. Time is on not going to stop so they should make a move quick before time runs out.

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Compare The Treatment Of The Themes Of Love And Time In The poems To His Coy Mistress And Sonnet 18. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

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