“To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell (Favorite Poem Project)


My name is Kathleen Rogers. I’m 52 years old, I
live in Hull, Massachusetts, and I’m a writer. I feel like I’m living 2 lives. I have a beautiful
house that’s filled with stuff. There’s 9 or 10 rooms in the
house, and a big yard. I wanted it to be beautiful. I’m the kind of person that wants it to be perfect,
that wants it to be nice, my family makes fun of me, you know. They call me Martha
Stewart or something like that. And I love living there except that I can’t get
a god damn thing done for my own work. I have this need to be an artist, to be a writer, so this has
been a problem in my life, is how do I have both sides of it? And for me, the only solution that worked
was to divide them in half geographically. So a little while ago, I got an apartment, a loft type of apartment in in Downtown
Boston in Chinatown, and it’s completely different from where I live in Hull. And now that I have this space that’s not distracting and that
is so open and empty, I can just do what I want. The poem that I chose for my favorite poem, “To His Coy Mistress”
by Andrew Marvell, is one that I’ve always, always loved. And the older I get, I’ve shifted
the reasons why I love the poem. When I was a young girl, I went to a very, very strict convent type of school, and
when I first read this poem, I was so thrilled to actually read a poem. And it was “literature” and it was about sex, and I identified
with the mistress character in the poem. “Oh isn’t this great! If only someone would write a poem
like this to me, I would just, you know, fall over for him.” And now, I could relate to
the poet, the agent of desire. And as I get older, I relate more and more to being the agent of desire
than to being the object of desire, although that’s still there. I identify with the poet and with the message that time is fleeting and I feel
that way in my life, that I have to awake and grab what it is that I want. When the poet talks about tearing things through the iron gates of life, it’s like, you
know, eating it, biting it, biting into life and doing what it is you want to do no matter whether it conforms to your family’s idea of what it is you’re supposed
to do, or society’s idea of what a 52 year old woman is supposed to do, or a magazine’s idea of what your perfect house is supposed
to look like, or any of those things that I walk around with. Messages about how
I’m supposed to be. And that’s what
the poem is for me. “To His Coy Mistress”
by Andrew Marvell 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 / Until 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 wingèd 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 thought on ““To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell (Favorite Poem Project)

  1. This is a good MGTOW poem since sex is a young person's game, and once you reach a certain age you can use literature to look back on the things that might have been and bid them farewell.

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