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To His Coy Mistress


Had we but world enough and time,

This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long loves 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;
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.
But at my back I always hear
Times wingd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
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 graves a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
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.
Critical Approaches to Literature

Biographical Criticism: This approach begins with the simple but central
insight that literature is written by actual people and that understanding an
authors life can help readers more thoroughly comprehend the work. Hence,
it often affords a practical method by which readers can better understand a
text. However, a biographical critic must be careful not to take the biographical
facts of a writers life too far in criticizing the works of that writer: the
biographical critic focuses on explicating the literary work by using the insight
provided by knowledge of the authors life.... [B]iographical data should
amplify the meaning of the text, not drown it out with irrelevant material.
Historical Criticism: This approach seeks to understand a literary work by
investigating the social, cultural, and intellectual context that produced ita
context that necessarily includes the artists biography and milieu. A key goal
for historical critics is to understand the effect of a literary work upon its
original readers.
"To His Coy Mistress" is a metaphysical poem written by the English author and politician Andrew
Marvell (16211678) either during or just before the Interregnum.
This poem is considered one of Marvell's finest and is possibly the best recognized carpe
diem poem in English. Although the date of its composition is not known, it may have been written in

the early 1650s. At that time, Marvell was serving as a tutor to the daughter of the retired
commander of the New Model Army, Sir Thomas Fairfax.[1]

1 Synopsis

2 Structure

3 Critical reception and themes

4 Allusions in other works

5 References

6 External links

The speaker of the poem addresses a woman who has been slow to respond to his sexual
advances. In the first stanza he describes how he would love her if he were to be unencumbered by
the constraints of a normal lifespan. He could spend centuries admiring each part of her body and
her resistance to his advances (i.e., coyness) would not discourage him. In the second stanza, he
laments how short human life is. Once life is over, the speaker contends, the opportunity to enjoy
one another is gone, as no one embraces in death. In the last stanza, the speaker urges the woman
to requite his efforts, and argues that in loving one another with passion they will both make the most
of the brief time they have to live.

The poem is written in iambic tetrameter and rhymes in couplets. The first verse stanza ("Had we...")
is ten couplets long, the second ("But...") six, and the third ("Now therefore...") seven. The logical
form of the poem runs: if... but... therefore....

Critical reception and themes[edit]

Until recently, To His Coy Mistress had been received by many as a poem that follows the
traditional conventions of carpe diem love poetry. However, some modern critics consider Marvells
use of complex and ambiguous metaphors challenges the perceived notions of the poem. It as well
raises suspicion of irony and deludes the reader with its inappropriate and jarringimagery.[2]

Some critics believe the poem is an ironic statement on sexual seduction. They reject the idea that
Marvells poem carries a serious and solemn mood. Rather, the poems opening linesHad we but
world enough, and time/ This coyness, Lady, were no crimeseems to suggest quite a whimsical
tone of regret. In the second part of the poem, there is a sudden transition into imagery that involves
graves, marble vaults and worms. The narrators use of such metaphors to depict a realistic and
harsh death that awaits the lovers seems to be a way of shocking the lady into submission. As well,
critics note the sense of urgency of the narrator in the poems third section, especially the alarming
comparison of the lovers to amorous birds of prey.


Allusions in other works[edit]

At least two poets have taken up the challenge of responding to Marvell's poem in the character of
the lady so addressed. Annie Finch's "Coy Mistress"[3] suggests that poetry is a more fitting use of
their time than lovemaking, while A.D. Hope's "His Coy Mistress to Mr. Marvell" turns down the
offered seduction outright.
Many authors have borrowed the phrase "World enough and time" from the poem's opening line to
use in their book titles. The most famous is Robert Penn Warren's 1950 novel World Enough and
Time: A Romantic Novel, about murder in early-19th century Kentucky. With variations, it has also
been used for books on the philosophy of physics (World Enough and Space-Time: Absolute versus
Relational Theories of Space and Time), geopolitics (World Enough and Time: Successful Strategies
for Resource Management), a science-fiction collection (Worlds Enough & Time: Five Tales of
Speculative Fiction - Dan Simmons), a short story by Terry Pratchett (#ifdefDEBUG +
"world/enough" + "time"), and, of course, a biography (World Enough and Time: The Life of Andrew
Marvell). The verse serves as an epigraph to Mimesis, literary critic Erich Auerbach's most famous
Also in the field of science fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin wrote a Hugo-nominated short story whose title,
"Vaster than Empires and More Slow", derives from the poem. Ian Watsonnotes the debt of this story
to Marvell, "whose complex and allusive poems are of a later form of pastoral to that which I shall
refer, and, like Marvell, Le Guin's nature references are, as I want to argue, "pastoral" in a much
more fundamental and interesting way than this simplistic use of the term."


There are other

allusions to the poem in the field of Fantasy and Science Fiction: the first book of James Kahn's
"New World Series" is titled "World Enough, and Time;" and Peter S. Beagle's novel A Fine and
Private Place about a love affair between two ghosts in a graveyard. The latter phrase has been
widely used as a euphemism for the grave, and has formed the title of several mystery novels.
The phrase "there will be time" occurs repeatedly in a section of T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J.
Alfred Prufrock" (1915), and is often said to be an allusion to Marvell's poem.[citation needed] Prufrock says

that there will be time "for the yellow smoke that slides along the street", time "to murder and create",
and time "for a hundred indecisions ... Before the taking of a toast and tea". As Eliot's hero is, in fact,
putting off romance and consummation, he is (falsely) answering Marvell's speaker. Eliot also
alludes to the lines near the end of Marvell's poem, "Let us roll all our strength and all / Our
sweetness up into one ball," with his lines, "To have squeezed the universe into a ball / To roll it
toward some overwhelming question," as Prufrock questions whether or not such an act of daring
would have been worth it. Eliot returns to Marvell in The Waste Land with the lines "But at my back
in a cold blast I hear / The rattle of the bones" (Part III, line 185) and "But at my back from time to
time I hear / The sound of horns and motors" (Part III, line 196).
The line "deserts of vast eternity" is used in the novel Orlando: A Biography, by Virginia Woolf, which
was published in 1928.
Archibald MacLeish's poem "You, Andrew Marvell",[5][6] alludes to the passage of time and to the
growth and decline of empires. In his poem, the speaker, lying on the ground at sunset, feels "the
rising of the night". He visualizes sunset, moving from east to west geographically, overtaking the
great civilizations of the past, and feels "how swift how secretly / The shadow of the night comes on."
B. F. Skinner quotes "But at my back I always hear / Time's wingd chariot hurrying near", through
his character Professor Burris in Walden Two, who is in a confused mood of desperation, lack of
orientation, irresolution and indecision. (Prentice Hall 1976, Chapter 31, p.266). This line is also
quoted in Ernest Hemingway's novel A Farewell to Arms.
The same line appears in full in the opening minutes of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's A
Matter of Life and Death (1946), spoken by the protagonist, pilot and poet Peter Carter: 'But at my
back I always hear / Time's wingd chariot hurrying near; And yonder all before us lie / Deserts of
vast eternity. Andy Marvell, What a Marvel'.

ype of Work
......."To His Coy Mistress," acclaimed long after Marvell's death a masterly work, is a lyrical poem that
scholars also classify as a metaphysical poem. Metaphysical poetry, pioneered by John Donne, tends to
focus on the following:

Startling comparisons or contrasts of a metaphysical (spiritual, transcendent, abstract) quality to a

concrete (physical, tangible, sensible) object. In "To His Coy Mistress," for example, Marvell
compares love to a vegetable (line 11) in a waggish metaphor.

Mockery of idealized romantic poetry through crude or shocking imagery, as in lines 27 and 28
("then worms shall try / That long preserved virginity').

Gross exaggeration (hyperbole), as in line 15 ("two hundred [years] to adore each breast].

Expression of personal, private feelings, such as those the young man expresses in "To His Coy

Presentation of a logical argument, or syllogism. In "To His Coy Mistress," this argument may be
outlined as follows: (1)We could spend decades or even centuries in courtship if time stood still
and we remained young. (2) But time passes swiftly and relentlessly. (3) Therefore, we must
enjoy the pleasure of each other now, without further ado.The conclusion of the argument begins
at Line 33 with "Now therefore."

The Title
.......The title suggests (1) that the author looked over the shoulder of a young man as he wrote a plea to a
young lady and (2) that the author then reported the plea exactly as the young man expressed it.
However, the author added the title, using the third-person possessive pronoun "his" to refer to the young
man. The word "coy" tells the reader that the lady is no easy catch; the word "mistress" can mean lady,
manager, caretaker, courtesan, sweetheart, and lover. It can also serve as the female equivalent
of master. In "To His Coy Mistress," the word appears to be a synonym for lady or sweetheart. In reality,
of course, Marvell wrote the entire poem.

The Persona (The Young Man)

.......Although Andrew Marvell writes "To His Coy Mistress" in first-person point of view, he presents the
poem as the plea of another man (fictional, of course). The poet enters the mind of the man and reports
his thoughts as they manifest themselves. The young man is impatient, desperately so, unwilling to
tolerate temporizing on the part of the young lady. His motivation appears to be carnal desire rather than
true love; passion rules him. Consequently, one may describe him as immature and selfish.

Theme and Summary

.......To His Coy Mistress presents a familiar theme in literaturecarpe diem (meaning seize the day), a
term coined by the ancient Roman poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known as Horace (65-8 B.C.). Here is
the gist of Andrew Marvell's poem: Inresponse to a young mans declarations of love for a young lady, the
lady is playfully hesitant, artfully demure. But dallying will not do, he says, for youth passes swiftly. He and
the lady must take advantage of the moment, he says, and sport us while we may. Oh, yes, if they had
world enough, and time they would spend their days in idle pursuits, leisurely passing time while the
young man heaps praises on the young lady. But they do not have the luxury of time, he says, for time's
wingd chariot is ever racing along. Before they know it, their youth will be gone; there will be only the
grave. And so, the poet pleads his case: Seize the day.

Meter and Rhyme

The poem is in iambic tetrameter, with eight syllables (four feet) per line. Each foot
consists of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. The last syllable of
Line 1 rhymes with the last syllable of line 2, the last syllable of line 3 rhymes with the last syllable of line
4, the last syllable of line 5 rhymes with the last syllable of line 6, and so on. Such pairs of rhyming lines
are called couplets. The following two lines, which open the poem, exhibit the meter and rhyme prevailing
in most of the other couplets in the poem:

Had WE..|..but WORLD..|..e NOUGH..|..and TIME
.......1.......... ..2........... ....3...............4
This COY..|..ness LA..|..dy WERE..|..no CRIME

The poem does not present a scene in a specific place in which people interact. However, the young man
and the young lady presumably live somewhere in England (the native land of the author), perhaps in
northeastern England near the River Humber. The poet mentions the Humber in line 7.

Young Man: He pleads with a young lady to stop playing hard to get and accept his love.
Young Lady: A coquettish woman.

To His Coy Mistress

By Andrew Marvell
Written in 1651-1652 and Published in 1681

Had we but world enough, and time,

This coyness,1 Lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk2 and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges'3 side.......................5
Shouldst rubies4 find: I by the tide
Of Humber5 would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.6........................10
My vegetable love7 should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,.....................15
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,8
Nor would I love at lower rate..............................20

But at my back I always hear

Time's wingd chariot9 hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,.....................25
Nor, in thy marble vault,10 shall sound
My echoing song: then worms11 shall try
That long preserved virginity,
And your quaint12 honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:.................................30
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,13
And while thy willing soul transpires14..................35
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-chapt15 power................40
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough16 the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun...................45
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

1.....coyness: Evasiveness, hesitancy, modesty, coquetry, reluctance; playing hard to get.
2.....which . . . walk: Example of enjambment (carrying the sense of one line of verse over to the next line without a pause)
3.....Ganges: River in Asia originating in the Himalayas and flowing southeast, through India, to the Bay of Bengal. The you
suggests that the young lady could postpone her commitment to him if her youth lasted a long, long time. She could take re
journeys abroad, even to India. She could also refuse to commit herself to him until all the Jews convert to Christianity. But
fleeting (as the poem later points out), there is no time for such journeys. She must submit herself to him now.
4.....rubies: Gems that may be rose red or purplish red. In folklore, it is said that rubies protect and maintain virginity. Ruby
various parts of the world, but the most precious ones are found in Asia, including Myanmar (Burma), India, Thailand, Sri, L
and Russia.
5.....Humber: River in northeastern England. It flows through Hull, Andrew Marvell's hometown.
6.....Flood. . . Jews: Resorting to hyperbole, the young man says that his love for the young lady is unbounded by time. He
years before great flood that Noah outlasted in his ark (Gen. 5:28-10:32) and would still love her until all Jews became Chri

the world.
vegetable love: love cultivated and nurtured like a vegetable so that it flourishes prolifically
8.....this state: This lofty position; this dignity.
9.....Time's wingd chariot: In Greek mythology, the sun was personified as the god Apollo, who rode his golden chariot from
day. Thus, Marvell here associates the sun god with the passage of time.
10...marble vault: The young lady's tomb.
11...worms: a morbid phallic reference.
12...quaint: Preserved carefully or skillfully.
13...dew: The 1681 manuscript of the poem uses glew (not dew), apparently as a coined past tense for glow.
14...transpires: Erupts, breaks out, emits, gives off.
15...slow-chapt: Chewing or eating slowly.
16...Thorough: Through.

Lines 5 and 6, Lines 23 and 24, Lines 27 and 28: The final stressed vowel sounds of these pairs of lines do not rhyme, as d
vowel sounds of all the other pairs of lines.
Three Sections of the Poem: Lines 1-20 discuss what would happen if the young man and young woman had unlimited tim
out that they do not have unlimited time. Lines 33-46 urge the young woman to seize the day and submit.

Andrew Marvell
.......Andrew Marvell was born in Winestead, South Yorkshire, England, on March 31, 1621. His father was
a minister. The family moved to Hull, in the county of Humberside, when Andrew was three. There, he
grew up and attended school. In 1639, a year after his mother died, Marvell received a bachelor's degree
from Cambridge University's Trinity College. His father died in 1640. Between 1642 and 1646, Marvell
traveled in continental Europe, visiting France, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and Italy. In 1651, he
accepted a position at Nun Appleton, Yorkshire, as tutor to 12-year-old Mary Fairfax, the daughter Sir
Thomas Fairfax, commander of the Parliamentary army in the 1640's during the English Civil Wars.
Marvell remained in that position until 1652.
.......While at Nun Appleton, he wrote several of his most acclaimed poems, including "To His Coy
Mistress" and "The Garden." Between 1653 and 1657, he served as a tutor to a ward of Oliver Cromwell,
the lord protector of England, Ireland, and Scotland during the Commonwealth period (1653-1658).
Marvell had praised Cromwell in a 1650 poem, "An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland."
In 1657, Marvell served under the great scholar and poet John Milton in the foreign office and in 1659 was
elected to Parliament to represent Hull. Marvell was best known during his lifetime for his political
achievements and his political satires in prose and verse. His best poetry was published in Miscellaneous
Poems 1681 from a manuscript his housekeeper found while going through his belongings shortly after
his death in 1678. In the 20th Century, critics began to acknowledge him as an outstanding poet of his
time and to acclaim "To His Coy Mistress" as a truly great poem. T.S. Eliot presents several allusions to
the poem in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."

Andrew Marvell: Poems Summary and Analysis of "To

His Coy Mistress"

The poem is spoken by a male lover to his female beloved as an attempt to
convince her to sleep with him. The speaker argues that the Ladys shyness
and hesitancy would be acceptable if the two had world enough, and time.
But because they are finite human beings, he thinks they should take
advantage of their sensual embodiment while it lasts.
He tells the lady that her beauty, as well as her long-preserved virginity,
will only become food for worms unless she gives herself to him while she
lives. Rather than preserve any lofty ideals of chastity and virtue, the
speaker affirms, the lovers ought to roll all our strength, and all / Our
sweetness, up into one ball. He is alluding to their physical bodies coming
together in the act of lovemaking.

Marvell wrote this poem in the classical tradition of a Latin love elegy, in
which the speaker praises his mistress or lover through the motif of carpe
diem, or seize the day. The poem also reflects the tradition of the erotic
blazon, in which a poet constructs elaborate images of his lovers beauty by
carving her body into parts. Its verse form consists of rhymed couplets in
iambic tetrameter, proceeding as AA, BB, CC, and so forth.
The speaker begins by constructing a thorough and elaborate conceit of the
many things he would do to honor the lady properly, if the two lovers
indeed had enough time. He posits impossible stretches of time during which
the two might play games of courtship. He claims he could love her from ten
years before the Biblical flood narrated in the Book of Genesis, while the
Lady could refuse his advances up until the conversion of the Jews, which
refers to the day of Christian judgment prophesied for the end of times in the
New Testaments Book of Revelations.
The speaker then uses the metaphor of a vegetable love to suggest a slow
and steady growth that might increase to vast proportions, perhaps encoding
a phallic suggestion. This would allow him to praise his ladys features
eyes, forehead, breasts, and heart in increments of hundreds and even
thousands of years, which he says that the lady clearly deserves due to her
superior stature. He assures the Lady that he would never value her at a
lower rate than she deserves, at least in an ideal world where time is

Marvell praises the ladys beauty by complimenting her individual features

using a device called an erotic blazon, which also evokes the influential
techniques of 15th and 16th century Petrarchan love poetry. Petrarchan
poetry is based upon rarifying and distancing the female beloved, making
her into an unattainable object. In this poem, though, the speaker only uses
these devices to suggest that distancing himself from his lover is mindless,
because they do not have the limitless time necessary for the speaker to
praise the Lady sufficiently. He therefore constructs an erotic blazon only to
assert its futility.
The poems mood shifts in line 21, when the speaker asserts that Time's
winged chariot is always near. The speakers rhetoric changes from an
acknowledgement of the Ladys limitless virtue to insisting on the radical
limitations of their time as embodied beings. Once dead, he assures the
Lady, her virtues and her beauty will lie in the grave along with her body as it
turns to dust. Likewise, the speaker imagines his lust being reduced to ashes,
while the chance for the two lovers to join sexually will be lost forever.
The third and final section of the poem shifts into an all-out plea and display
of poetic prowess in which the speaker attempts to win over the Lady. He
compares the Ladys skin to a vibrant layer of morning dew that is animated
by the fires of her soul and encourages her to sport with him while we
may. Time devours all things, the speaker acknowledges, but he
nonetheless asserts that the two of them can, in fact, turn the tables on
time. They can become amorous birds of prey that actively consume the
time they have through passionate lovemaking.

Early life[edit]
Marvell was born in Winestead-in-Holderness, East Riding of Yorkshire, near the city of Kingston
upon Hull, the son of a Church of England clergyman also named Andrew Marvell. The family moved
to Hull when his father was appointed Lecturer at Holy Trinity Church there, and Marvell was
educated at Hull Grammar School. A secondary school in the city, the Andrew Marvell Business and
Enterprise College, is now named after him.[1]
At the age of 13, Marvell attended Trinity College, Cambridge and eventually received a BA degree.

A portrait of Marvell attributed to Godfrey Kneller hangs in Trinity College's collection.[3]

Afterwards, from the middle of 1642 onwards, Marvell probably travelled in continental Europe. He
may well have served as a tutor for an aristocrat on the Grand Tour, but the facts are not clear on
this point. While England was embroiled in the civil war, Marvell seems to have remained on the
continent until 1647. It is not known exactly where his travels took him, except that he was

in Rome in 1645 and Milton later reported that Marvell had mastered four languages,
including French, Italian and Spanish.[4]

Andrew Marvell (16211678)

First poems and Marvell's time at Nun Appleton [edit]

Marvell's first poems, which were written in Latin and Greek and published when he was still at
Cambridge, lamented a visitation of theplague and celebrated the birth of a child to King Charles
I and Queen Henrietta Maria. He only belatedly became sympathetic to the successive regimes
during the Interregnum after Charles I's execution, which took place 30 January 1649. His "Horatian
Ode", a political poem dated to early 1650, responds with lament to the regicide even as it
praises Oliver Cromwell's return from Ireland.[5][6][7]
Circa 165052, Marvell served as tutor to the daughter of the Lord General Thomas Fairfax, who
had recently relinquished command of the Parliamentary army to Cromwell. He lived during that time
at Nun Appleton Hall, near York, where he continued to write poetry. One poem, "Upon Appleton
House, To My Lord Fairfax", uses a description of the estate as a way of exploring Fairfax's and
Marvell's own situation in a time of war and political change. Probably the best-known poem he
wrote at this time is "To His Coy Mistress".

Anglo-Dutch War and employment as Latin secretary[edit]

During the period of increasing tensions leading up to the First Anglo-Dutch War of 1653, Marvell
wrote the satirical "Character of Holland". repeating the then current stereotypeof the Dutch as
"drunken and profane": "This indigested vomit of the Sea,/ Fell to the Dutch by Just Propriety".
He became a tutor to Cromwells ward, William Dutton, in 1653, and moved to live with his pupil at
the house of John Oxenbridge in Eton. Oxenbridge had made two trips toBermuda, and it is thought

that this inspired Marvell to write his poem Bermudas. He also wrote several poems in praise of
Cromwell, who was by this time Lord Protector of England. In 1656 Marvell and Dutton travelled to
France, to visit the Protestant Academy of Saumur.[8][9]
In 1657, Marvell joined Milton, who by that time had lost his sight, in service as Latin secretary to
Cromwell's Council of State at a salary of 200 a year, which represented financial security at that
time. Oliver Cromwell died in 1658. He was succeeded as Lord Protector by his son Richard. In
1659 Marvell was elected Member of Parliament forKingston-upon-Hull in the Third Protectorate
Parliament.[10] He was paid a rate of 6 shillings, 8 pence per day during sittings of parliament, a
financial support derived from the contributions of his constituency.[11] He was re-elected MP for Hull
in 1660 for the Convention Parliament.

After the Restoration[edit]

A statue of Andrew Marvell, located in the Marketplace, Kingston upon Hull, UK

The monarchy was restored to Charles II in 1660. Marvell avoided punishment for his own cooperation with republicanism, and he helped convince the government of Charles II not to execute
John Milton for his antimonarchical writings and revolutionary activities. [citation needed] The closeness of the
relationship between the two former colleagues is indicated by the fact that Marvell contributed an
eloquent prefatory poem, entitled "On Mr. Milton's Paradise Lost", to the second edition of

Milton's epic Paradise Lost. According to a biographer: "Skilled in the arts of self-preservation, he
was not a toady."[12]
In 1661 Marvell was re-elected MP for Hull in the Cavalier Parliament.[10] He eventually came to write
several long and bitterly satirical verses against the corruption of the court. Although circulated in
manuscript form, some finding anonymous publication in print, they were too politically sensitive and
thus dangerous to be published under his name until well after his death. Marvell took up opposition
to the 'court party', and satirised them anonymously. In his longest verse satire, Last Instructions to a
Painter, written in 1667, Marvell responded to the political corruption that had contributed to English
failures during the Second Anglo-Dutch War. The poem did not find print publication until after the
Revolution of 16889. The poem instructs an imaginary painter how to picture the state without a
proper navy to defend them, led by men without intelligence or courage, a corrupt and dissolute
court, and dishonest officials. Of another such satire, Samuel Pepys, himself a government official,
commented in his diary, "Here I met with a fourth Advice to a Painter upon the coming in of the
Dutch and the End of the War, that made my heart ake to read, it being too sharp and so true." [citation

From 1659 until his death in 1678, Marvell was serving as London agent for the Hull Trinity House, a
shipmasters' guild.[citation needed] He went on two missions to the continent, one to the Dutch Republic and
the other encompassing Russia, Sweden, and Denmark.[citation needed] He spent some time living in a
cottage on Highgate Hill in north London, where his time in the area is recorded by a bronze plaque
that bears the following inscription:
Four feet below this spot is the stone step, formerly the entrance to the cottage in which lived
Andrew Marvell, poet, wit, and satirist; colleague with John Milton in the foreign or Latin
secretaryship during the Commonwealth; and for about twenty years M.P. for Hull. Born at
Winestead, Yorkshire, 31st March, 1621, died in London, 18th August, 1678, and buried in the
church of St. Giles-in-the-Fields. This memorial is placed here by the London County Council,
December, 1898.[13]
A floral sundial [14] in the nearby Lauderdale House bears an inscription quoting lines from of his
poem "The Garden". He died suddenly in 1678, while in attendance at a popular meeting of his old
constituents at Hull. His health had previously been remarkably good; and it was supposed by many
that he was poisoned by some of his political or clerical enemies. Marvell was buried in the church
of St Giles in the Fields in central London. His monument, erected by his grateful constituency, bears
the following inscription:
Near this place lyeth the body of Andrew Marvell, Esq., a man so endowed by Nature, so improved
by Education, Study, and Travel, so consummated by Experience, that, joining the peculiar graces of

Wit and Learning, with a singular penetration and strength of judgment; and exercising all these in
the whole course of his life, with an unutterable steadiness in the ways of Virtue, he became the
ornament and example of his age, beloved by good men, feared by bad, admired by all, though
imitated by few; and scarce paralleled by any. But a Tombstone can neither contain his character,
nor is Marble necessary to transmit it to posterity; it is engraved in the minds of this generation, and
will be always legible in his inimitable writings, nevertheless. He having served twenty years
successfully in Parliament, and that with such Wisdom, Dexterity, and Courage, as becomes a true
Patriot, the town of Kingston-upon-Hull, from whence he was deputed to that Assembly, lamenting in
his death the public loss, have erected this Monument of their Grief and their Gratitude, 1688.
It may be noted that his epitaph pays more tribute to his political career than his poetry.

Prose works[edit]
Marvell also wrote anonymous prose satires criticizing the monarchy and Catholicism,
defending Puritan dissenters, and denouncing censorship.
The Rehearsal Transpros'd, an attack on Samuel Parker, was published in two parts in 1672 and
In 1676, Mr. Smirke; or The Divine in Mode, a work critical of intolerance within the Church of
England, was published together with a "Short Historical Essay, concerning General Councils,
Creeds, and Impositions, in matters of Religion."
Marvell's pamphlet An Account of the Growth of Popery and Arbitrary Government in England,
published in late 1677, alleged that: "There has now for diverse Years, a design been carried on, to
change the Lawfull Government of England into an Absolute Tyranny, and to convert the established
Protestant Religion into down-right Popery".[15] John Kenyon described it as "one of the most
influential pamphlets of the decade"[16] and G. M. Trevelyan called it: "A fine pamphlet, which throws
light on causes provocative of the formation of the Whig party".[17]
A 1678 work published anonymously ("by a Protestant") in defense of John Howe against the attack
of his fellow-dissenter, the severe Calvinist Thomas Danson, is also probably by Marvell. Its full title
is Remarks upon a late disingenuous discourse, writ by one T.D. under the pretence de causa Dei,
and of answering Mr. John Howe's letter and postscript of God's prescience, &c., affirming, as the
Protestant docrine, that GOd doth by efficacious influence universally move and determine men to
all their actions, even to those that are most wicked.

Although Marvell became a Parliamentarian, he was not a Puritan. He had flirted briefly with
Catholicism as a youth,[18] and was described in his thirties (on the Saumur visit) as "a notable
English Italo-Machiavellian".[19][20] During his lifetime, his prose satires were much better known than
his verse.[21]

Andrew Marvell

Vincent Palmieri noted that Marvell is sometimes known as the "British Aristides" for his incorruptible
integrity in life and poverty at death. Many of his poems were not published until 1681, three years
after his death, from a collection owned by Mary Palmer, his housekeeper. After Marvell's death she
laid dubious claim to having been his wife, from the time of a secret marriage in 1667. [22]

Marvell's poetic style[edit]

T. S. Eliot wrote of Marvell's style that 'It is more than a technical accomplishment, or the vocabulary
and syntax of an epoch; it is, what we have designated tentatively as wit, a tough reasonableness
beneath the slight lyric grace'. He also identified Marvell and the metaphysical school with the
'dissociation of sensibility' that occurred in 17th-century English literature; Eliot described this trend
as 'something which... happened to the mind of England... it is the difference between the intellectual
poet and the reflective poet'.[23] Poets increasingly developed a self-conscious relationship to
tradition, which took the form of a new emphasis on craftsmanship of expression and an
idiosyncratic freedom in allusions to Classical and Biblical sources.

Marvell's most celebrated lyric, "To His Coy Mistress", combines an old poetic conceit (the
persuasion of the speaker's lover by means of a carpe diem philosophy) with Marvell's typically
vibrant imagery and easy command of rhyming couplets. Other works incorporate topical satire and
religious themes.

Formalist Criticism: This approach regards literature as a unique form of human

knowledge that needs to be examined on its own terms. All the elements necessary
for understanding the work are contained within the work itself. Of particular interest
to the formalist critic are the elements of formstyle, structure, tone, imagery, etc.
that are found within the text. A primary goal for formalist critics is to determine how
such elements work together with the texts content to shape its effects upon readers.

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain (280)

Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 1886

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,

And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading treading till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through

And when they all were seated,

A Service, like a Drum
Kept beating beating till I thought
My Mind was going numb

And then I heard them lift a Box

And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,

And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,

And I dropped down, and down
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing then

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain: The Balance

Between Figurative & Literal Language
Emily Dickinsons I felt a Funeral, in my Brain was published for
the first time in 1896. While the poems publication date can be
considered accurate, the same cannot be said about its composition

date. The poem is tentatively considered by most scholars to have

been written by Dickinson in 1861. The mystery that surrounds
many of Dickinsons poems is a reflection of her extremely secluded
lifestlyle and the fact that she only published a small fraction of the
poems she wrote over her lifetime. Although Dickinsons overall
disposition was quite demure, she was known to be great
fun around her closest friends. Around strangers however,
Dickinson was notorious for being extremely shy, awkard, silent,
and even belittling. Death had a huge presence in Dickinsons
poems because death directly struck the closest people around her.
Several deaths occured over a short time in Dickinsons later years
including her father in 1874, Samuel Bowles in 1878, J.G. Holland in
1881, her newphew Gilbert in 1883, and both Charles Wadsworth
and Dickinsons mother in 1882. This poem, like many other
Dickinson poems, explores the human mind in depth, specifically
the breakdown of the mind. Dickinson cleverly weaves an extended
metaphor of a funeral to describe the deterioration of her mind.
This balance between a literal funeral and an abstract mental
breakdown gives this poem fascinating insight into how it feels to
lose your grip in terms of mental stability.
The poem begins with the first literal aspects of an actual
funeral. Lines 2-3 read Mourners to and fro that Kept treading
treading. This creates a gloomy atmosphere that a funeral
obviously brings, and sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The last
line of of the first stanza: That Sense was breaking through
brings up the first element associated with the mind. Sense was
breaking through her mind as the people in her metaphorical
funeral were treading because she realized the death of a great mind
was in procession. The second stanza brings sound into the
equation with a drum that Kept beatingbeating untill she
thought her Mind was going numb. Pretty much all of the
readers senses are stimulated throughout the poem especially with
vivid visual and auditory imagery. In addition to the drums,

Dickinson uses words such as creak, bell, and silence.

Visually, the reader can especially visualize the narrators casket
being dropped as well as the narrators mind plunging and hitting a
World, at every plunge. The dashes sprinkled around the entire
poem serve as a systematic pause to better illustrate how a funeral
proceeds and also how sense slowly breaks away from the mind.
The gradual process of a mental breakdown is emphasized with her
mind first going numb and slowly failing her as the drums beat
continously. The complete burial of rational thought is achieved in
line 17: And then a Plank in Reason, broke. Each of the five
stanzas blend aspects of the literal funeral with aspects of her
minds spiraling destruction seamlessly, with the last line in the
stanza usually referring back to her mind. The last line finally
brings about her minds inevitable demise, definitvely stating:
And [I] Finished knowingthen.
The major themes in the poem include a mind having to face its own
collapse and turning such an abstract issue, such as the mind, into a
concrete, explorable issue. As Marie Rose Napierkowski states
on enotes.com, the poem reflects [Dickinsons] ability to replicate
human consciousness in a controlled poetic form. Dickinson
allows the mind to be throughly accessible as a living and breathing
entity through such concrete and literal language. The reader is able
to associate the strong feelings that funerals evoke with the feelings
of mental instability and clinical insanity. In other words, death of
not only the body, but especially the mind. This poem illuminates
how Dickinson places the mind in an exalted position among lifes
pecking order. In Dickinsons eyes, the death of a rational,
functional mind is the real tragedy. Napierkowski also states in her
full summary and study guide that the merging of physical
sensation and mental perception is sustained throughout the poem.

Overall, Dickinsons I felt a Funeral, in my Brain is a very

compelling dive into the subconscious of a mind in peril. Using
physical, sensory imagery of a funeral, Dickinson is more effectively
able to convey her struggle to readers. This poems arsenal
of ambiguities allow for multiple readings and interpretations of
Dickinsons particular word choice, but it all leads back to the
death of a great mind.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening


Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.