Compare and contrast ‘To His Coy Mistress’ and ‘The Passionate Shepherd to His Love’

Last Updated: 19 Apr 2023
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Both of these poems explore the theme of love between a man and a woman. The desired outcome is the same, but the poets attempt to seduce their lovers in different ways. Andrew Marvell wrote 'To his coy mistress' a cleverly written poem based on the phrase 'carpe diem' or 'seize the day'. It was an attempt to make a woman sleep with him. Christopher Marlowe wrote the poem 'The passionate Shepherd to His Love'. This is a romantic poem about a man never wanting to be apart from him love and always wanting her to have the best.

He pleads for the woman's love by offering his eternal commitment and a beautiful life. He repeats "live with me and be my love" throughout the poem to show he wants to be with her forever, he also says "and I will make the beds of roses" which exaggerates the natural beauty he is telling her she will have in the countryside, when she lives with him. The two poems use very different arguments to persuade the women to do similar things. The two arguments are close to being completely the opposite even though they are trying to achieve similar things.

The period in which each poem was written has a very definite influence on the style, the persuasive language, imagery and vocabulary. The period in which the poem was written also affects the style of it. 'The Passionate Shepherd to His Love' has a theme of love which includes the beauty of nature and presents this through idyllic imagery and offerings. In 'His Coy Mistress' there are loving gestures and romantic thoughts but Marvell rights in such a way that the reader must be suspicious of his sincerity, he makes us think this by putting across a strong sense or urgency.

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But at my back I always hear times winged chariot hurrying near" this quote is saying that no matter what he does, in the back of his mind there I always a countdown until its to late for them to be together. He also paints a rather disturbing picture of the worms taking the woman's virginity that she is preserving "then worms shall try that long preserv'd virginity". I would relate this to irony and bitter humour. Furthermore, Marlowe sets his theme in a picturesque, 'fairytale' setting, by making lots of romantic suggestions and showing the woman how much he loves her using exotic language.

On the other hand Marvell's poem does make wild and slightly romantic suggestions but, I would say that it is quite easy to think that he just wants to sleep with her, I get this thought from him repeating 'come live with me.. ' it seams to be more like a bribe than expressing how much he loves her. At the begging of the poem he is more romantic "My vegetable love should grow Vaster than empires, and more slow" but as the poem goes on he turns more to the theme of her losing her virginity and time running out for this to happen.

At this point I thought the poem was less of a romantic poem and more of a convincing one. From about half way into the poem he starts to talk as if they were one and almost like he had made the decision for her. "Let us roll all out strength, and all our sweetness, up into one ball" and "though we cannot make out sun stand still, yet we will make him run". I think that this is a very powerful tone, and the mood The thesis in Marvell's' poem is that time will run out and it will be too late for her to lose her virginity.

He suggests resolving this, they should sleep together as soon as possible. "And yonder all before us lie deserts of vast eternity, thy beauty shall no more be found" this quote is saying that she will not be beautiful forever and he wants to sleep with her before she is unattractive. In Marlowe's poem there isn't a thesis because even though he is urging her in the same way as in the other poem. He isn't expressing any problems to spoil the perfect life he is portraying.

I think the viewpoint from both of the poems is as if the poet is speaking the poem as appose to righting is as someone else looking in on what the men are saying to the women. The men generally use different techniques to persuade the women to sleep with them. However there are some similarities, like the fact that they both paint a very pretty picture in your mind. In Marlowe's poem "And we will sit upon the rocks, Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks, by shallow rivers to whose falls Melodious birds sing madrigals". And in Marvell's "Thou by the Indian Ganges' side Shouldst rubies find".

Obviously aside from the fact that he is stuck by the river humber. Flattery is a very persuasive form of language but it isn't used in 'The Passionate Shepherd to His Love'. However flattery is used in 'To His Coy Mistress', 'thou by the Indian Ganges side should'st rubies find; I by the tide of Humber would complain' the speaker said that he would be by the river Ganges in India with rubies and he would be by the side of the river Humber in Hull. This quote shows the he puts her above himself or so it was meant to seem to the woman.

He uses exaggeration to persuade the woman to sleep with him. 'Like am'rous birds of prey' 'let us roll all our strength, and all our sweetness, up into one ball' 'marble vault, shall sound my echoing song' - theses quotes are examples of his use of over exaggerating things. Marvel's poem has a hyperbole near to the beginning of the text. 'My vegetable love should grow vaster than empires and more slow' this is saying that if human life was infinite, it would not matter how long it took to seduce her. It exaggerates and is there to convince the woman he loves her.

Furthermore the speaker suggests as a synthesis that she should sleep with him before it's too late "time's winged chariot hurrying near" and 'then worms shall try that long preserv'd virginity'. He produces a very strong and convincing argument. In comparison Marlowe's poem is a plea to his love for her to move to the countryside with him 'come live with me and be my love' and 'the shepherds' swains shall dance and sing'. He idealises life in the country and makes it sound romantic and perfect 'I will make thee beds of roses and a thousand fragrant posies, a cap of flowers, and a kirtle embroidered all with leaves of myrtle'.

He ignores all the bad points and really exaggerates the good and what he is going to do for her when she arrives, which is a perfect home with amazing views, 'a gown made of the finest wool' made from the prettiest lambs and 'fair lined slippers for the cold, with buckles of th purest gold, 'a belt of straw and ivy buds, with coral clasps and amber studs'. 'To His Coy Mistress' uses much more figurative language in comparison to 'The Passionate Shepherd to His Love' which doesn't any similes or metaphors. To His Coy Mistress' similes; 'sits on skin like morning dew' - paints a very pretty picture in ones mind. 'Like am'rous birds of prey' - this creates the effect that the man is very desperate in persuading her and it is also a very strong thing to say, much like his movites. 'We cannot make out sun stand still, yet we will make him run' here the speaker is saying that he can't stop time from passing, but life is short, pleasure should be enjoyed while there is still time. he also implies a warning to prepare for death.

In conclusion I think that the most persuasive poem is 'The Passionate Shepherd to his Love' because he makes the woman feel special and he doesn't mention her losing her virginity or the idea that time is running out. Instead he implies that time is no object when you are in love with someone as beautiful as her. These poems have had a very defiant effect on me, this being that I started to look into the attitudes to love now and I thought about how and why they have changed over time. Also it immediately made me put myself in the receiving end of the poem and thought about how I would react to them individually.

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Compare and contrast ‘To His Coy Mistress’ and ‘The Passionate Shepherd to His Love’. (2017, Sep 26). Retrieved from

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