Ben Jonson was born around June 11, 1572, the posthumous son of a clergyman. He was educated at Westminster School by the great classical scholar William Camden and worked in his stepfather’s trade, bricklaying. The trade did not please him in the least, and he joined the army, serving in Flanders. He returned to England about 1592 and married Anne Lewis on November 14, 1594.
Andrew Marvell was born in Yorkshire, on March 31st 1621. He travelled abroad writing poems until 1950 when Marvell became the tutor of twelve-year-old Mary Fairfax (later Duchess of Buckingham.) Around this time Marvell wrote ‘To His Coy Mistress’ and many other famous poems. During his last twenty years of life, Marvell was engaged in political activities, taking part in embassies to Holland and Russia. Marvell’s poems were printed in 1681. Marvell died on 16th August 1678 of tertian ague. He was buried in the church of St. Giles-in-the-Fields.
In ‘Come, My Celia’ we gain an insight into an unequal partnership where love seems unimportant where as in ‘To His Coy Mistress’ the couple are obviously in love.
‘Come My Celia’ was written to try and woo a member of the opposite sex. This is quite obvious in the first couplet. “Come, my Celia, let us prove, whilst we may, the sports of love”(Lines 1 & 2). These rhymes that are used in the opening couplet are underlying the philosophy ‘Carpe Diem’ or ‘Seize the Day’ as some of us are more aware of. The poem is in the form of couplets with each set of lines rhyming. Jonson uses a variety of persuasive techniques throughout the poem. A number of times Jonson hints that any antics in the bedroom will be strictly lust not love “Why should we defer our joys?”(Line 9). He calls fame and rumour toys, trying to persuade ‘Celia’ that they could just ignore the aftermath of any sexual encounter they had, as though making love means nothing to him. When Jonson writes, “Cannot we delude the eyes of a few household spies?” he is trying to say to ‘Celia’ that they will not get caught. They will be able to avoid the eyes of a few household spies, the neighbours. Throughout this poem you can tell from the language that it is a very persuasive poem, the poet asks a lot of questions in it. The language throughout is old fashioned and as I have mentioned persuasive techniques are obvious.
A Critical Appreciation Of The Poem To His Coy Mistress
Andrew Marvell’s ‘To His Coy Mistress’ is a passionate, loving and free poem. It is the description of a man who has constantly been working hard at seducing a woman (his mistress). The character puts over a logical argument in order to persuade her to make love to him. It is written in a sarcastic and witty way that makes the reader wonder weather he is serious in his seduction towards her, “if you please, refuse Till the converse of the Jews.”(Lines 9 ; 10). He asks her if she will stay a virgin until the Jews converse, in other words, forever. This makes his mistress realise that she will lose her virginity in the end, so why not now, as it is not as extreme as changing religion. Only from the use of the word ‘coy’ we gain a clear image to the type of woman his mistress is. From the title we know she is a shy, demure woman but with a coquettish side to her. She encourages his seduction to a certain point, but then when he gets too close, she backs off and seems apprehensive over her actions. The first stanza descriptively explains that his mistress’s coyness would not be a crime if there had “world enough, and time…”(Line 1). Marvell, or the subject whom the poem is written from, clearly thinks that it would be alright if they didn’t make love if they had all the time in the world, but they don’t!
He compares his love to a vegetable “my vegetable love should grow,”(Line 11), the only difference being that vegetables can’t have sex. It grows “vaster than empires,” (Line 12) meaning that their love is growing bigger than empires but at the same time they should make it complete by having sex. Many hyperboles are used to emphasise the mans love for his mistress, “love You ten years before the flood,” (Lines 7 ; 8) this clearly shows that he will love her forever no matter what happens in the mean time but it is exagerated. He claims he would happily spend a hundred years praising her eyes, and gazing at her forehead. As the main theme of this poem is sex, many physical references are made, such as “two hundred to adore each breast.” (Line15) The main purpose of the stanza is to compliment the mistress. He does this by using romantic exaggeration. He explains to his mistress how he truly cares for her enough to spend hundreds of years simply gazing at her. However, this leads to a problem, as there is simply not enough time available. To show how great it would be if they had enough time to waste, the quote “walk and pass our long days/ by the Indian Ganges side” (Lines 4 ; 5) exaggerates this as if they did have all the time in the world then they could waste it strolling around the countryside. In this stanza there are very few references to the personality and character of his mistress and this indicates that the poet is only interested in sex.
The second stanza is very persuasive by using death images to represent time. It implies that there isn’t enough time to do all the romantic things considered in the first stanza so they should go ahead and have sex. To illustrate the point of time running out, the lines “I always hear/ times winged chariot hurrying near,” (Line 22) this lets her know that time does have a way of marching on. Vivid imagery is used such as “then worms shall try/ that long preserved virginity.” (Lines 27 & 28) These lines seem a bit horrific but they are actually meant to further convince his mistress to have sex with him. He is telling her that if she continues to resist him, then it will be worms that remove her virginity from her, as opposed to someone who really cares about her, meaning him. He also reminds her that the honour that she is clinging so tightly to will mean nothing when the worms eat her.
Further, his feelings for her may have gone. The vulgar and insulting images he uses such as “then worms shall try/ that long preserved virginity,” (Lines 27 & 28) are to shock his mistress into wanting to have sex with him because if she doesn’t then she will have nothing to look forward too as she will no longer be desirable. The second stanza ends with the lines “the grave’s a fine and private place, / But none I think do there embrace” (Lines 31 ; 32) this ironic statement provides the final argument as it describes how the love they have is so strong that they must not let time slip through their fingers. Instead they should use the time they have left to clutch at the love in front of them and have sex. The message in this poem is that lovers, and us as the readers, should use the time we have been given to the best of our ability.
The third and final stanza is about seizing the moment and pursuing physical love. This is the most powerful stanza as the mistress is asked to bed, “while your youthful hue/ sits on thy skin like morning dew,” (Lines 33 ; 34) he is complementing her by telling her that she is young and beautiful and therefore ready for sex. A simile is used to compare the man and his mistress to “am’rous birds of prey.” This means that they are like birds, part of nature, and it is natural to have sex. Further statements are used to show the amazing imagery of their love such as, “let us roll all our strength and all/ Our sweetness up into one ball, / And tear our pleasure with rough strife/ Through the iron gates of life.” (Lines 41-44) This gives us a beautiful image of the passion between the lovers. The poem ends with “Thus though we cannot make our sun/ Stand still, yet we will make him run.” (Lines 45 ; 46) This means that they cannot make time stop ‘stand still’ so they should use it before it runs out to make children. While the poem starts out with the aim of seduction, it ends with beauty imagery of their true love for each other.
Both poems were written in an attempt to woo a member of the opposite sex. They both have the same idea but both poets use different approaches. They Both Jonson and Marvell have many similarities but there are individual characteristics that the authors display. For example, Marvell, being cynic includes much more description. Both poems it is clear that the man is the more dominant figure, this was common knowledge in both Marvell and Jonson’s time. Men ‘ruled the roost’. Both poems use stanzas, with Marvell in particular using three very different stanzas to persuade the woman in three different ways, all three are very persuasive but using different imagery. Rhyming couplets are seen at the ends of every line in Marvell’s poem, which helps the poem read smoothly. Overall I like both poems and think that the imagery used in both of them is excellent.