Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday Poetry Slam -- "To His Coy Mistress"

Introducing a new feature, the Saturday Poetry Slam. We'll see how this goes...

As many of you know, I was an English major in college. What led me to that was a lifelong love of literature, and I figured I could get a degree for just reading stuff I was going to read anyway. I had actually kind of forgotten about how much I liked poetry until recently, when I started revisiting some the poems that had struck my fancy or my psyche or my emotions way back in the salad days of my youth.

Which led me to this classic from the mid-1600s, "To His Coy Mistress",
by Andrew Marvell. On re-reading it, I am amazed once again at how SO not-old this sounds, even though it was written over 300 years ago!

You will note some familiar phrases in this poem, I'm sure. They have served as titles of books or movies, in the last century especially.

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 love’s 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
Time’s wing├Ęd 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 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,
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.

1 Comment:


I'd like to be that lady..