Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress and Robert Herrick’s Corinna’s Going A-Maying are poems which both present a familiar theme in literature which is Carpe diem which means seize the day. The poems tell about different situations wherein you have to take advantage of the moment because such instances are not permanent and wouldn’t last long.
“To His Coy Mistress” is about a young man professing his love for a young lady, but the lad responds by being playfully hesitant and demure, as though she was full of uncertainty (Marvell, 1999). But according to the female, dallying as such will not do, because youth will pass them by swiftly, so there is a need for them to take advantage of the situation. He then expounds that if they had the luxury of time, then they could their days idly, admiring each other while leisurely passing time.
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But for them the reality is that time is not on their side because it s a winged chariot ever racing along, they wouldn’t know exactly when their youth will be gone, but it is certain that if they don’t seize the moment, the only thing that would await them would be the grave.
In “Corinna’s Going A-Maying”, the narrator urges Corinna to wake up and get up early on the first of May, so that she would be able to enjoy the fun of the day, as well as the beautiful flowers of the month of May (Herrick, 2008). She is also told to hurry her morning prayers so that she can already go out into the fields to enjoy May.
The narrator also told her that while she spent her time sleeping, many couples have already been engaged, many had played the kissing game, and several other things that could encourage Corinna to go out. In the end, she is told to go while they’re still in their prime, to seize the opportunity before they grow old and die. With life being short, if Corinna would let the opportunity pass, then she couldn’t turn back the hands of time.
The title “To His Coy Mistress” would mean that the lady love of young man is not an easy catch. It is phrased in a way that the author reports the plea of a young man to his beloved. The title “Corinna’s Going A-Maying” implies that Corinna would eventually go out and enjoy the month of May, as she is being persuaded by the narrator.
Marvell’s poem is written in the first person point of view, though it is presented as a plea of some other person. It reports of what goes on inside the mind of the man, as his thoughts were manifested through the words in the poem.
It shows of an impatient young man, who desperately urges the young lady not to waste any more time temporizing and playing hard-to-get. It can be seen as more of a selfish desire for something carnal rather than true love by the man, as he is overflowing with passion, like he can’t contain it anymore. He can be characterized as more of an immature and selfish person than a loving one.
On the other hand, Herrick’s poem is also in the first persona point of view that of a narrator. He is an unnamed individual who urges Corinna to get up of from the bed, go out, and enjoy the first of May. The narrator tells more of the events that Corinna had missed while she was spending her time sleeping. It is more of an exposition of the joys that May brings, and what they could expect in the coming times. The narrator is more of a persuasive individual, telling every kind of story just to convince Corinna that she needs to go out of bed already.
The setting of “To His Coy Mistress” is not specified in the poem. There is no scene that presents such a place in which the characters would interact. The young man and the young lady are assumed to be from somewhere in England, as suggested by the River Humber which was mentioned in the poem. In “Corinna’s Going A-Maying” there is also no specified place of interaction for the people in the poem. It can be assumed that it is in the house of Corinna, wherein she is still in her bedroom, still sleeping.
It is evident that for both poems, the speaker or the narrator spoke first of beautiful things before telling about the consequences of not seizing the day or grabbing the opportunity. In the poem “To His Coy Mistress,” it was shown that if the lady and the man were to have the luxury of time, then they could afford of being idle, praising and adoring each other for hundreds of years to come.
In the poem “Corinna’s Going A-Maying”, the narrator speaks of wonderful things that can be done outside, in order to fully enjoy May. They can pick flowers, interact with other people, and explore love with the opposite sex. However, in the end, the speakers in both poems stated that if they don’t seize the opportunity, then the only thing certain for them is that they would grow old and eventually die, without the chance of enjoying the opportunity that they missed.
Andrew Marvell and Robert Herrick’s poems tell the readers about grabbing the opportunity while it is there. We cannot afford to let the opportunity pass us by because we would end up losing it forever. We don’t have the luxury of time, and we would eventually find ourselves aging, and unable to do the things when we were young. This is why we should grab every opportunity and seize the day.
Herrick, R. (2008). Corinna's Going A-Maying. Retrieved September 17, 2008, from http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/corinna-s-going-a-maying/
Marvell, A. (1999). To his Coy Mistress. Retrieved September 17, 2008, from http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/marvell/coy.htm
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