Last updated on August 25th, 2020 at 09:35 am
“To His Coy Mistress” makes us look at love from a viewpoint which is focused upon the brevity of life. The love which the man in the poem feels for the woman is essentially overflowing passion that has been infused in him owing to his youthful vigor and the immediacy to get involved in the physical consumption of sexual desires. This love is not affected by the ravages of time and death or the traditional regulations for loving someone confirmed by the 17th century society because the maddening pleasure derived from it surpasses every scare or social norm.
The lover in Coy Mistress is a very calculative one who is well aware of the “Time’s winged chariot hurrying near”. The lover’s acknowledgement of the classical carpe diem theme makes him advocate a love that is restricted to sensual pleasures because he feels that the best way to “seize the day” is through the act of love which is also the act of life.
To drive his point home, the lover ironically creates imaginary infinite distance between himself and the beloved, dedicates the history of time to the loving integrity of his platonic love and attaches a comical time calendar to the traditional catalogue of praise to show that the meaningless elaborations of courtship sanctified by Petrarch and the wait until marriage to indulge in physical pleasures are nothing more than Utopian concepts in a world where youth and beauty is transient.
This inevitable victimization by the running sands of Time compels the lover in Coy Mistress to ignore the spiritual and sentimental aspect of love because he simply does not have enough time for them. Instead, he chooses to manifest his love through passion alone so that he can make most use of the little time left with the lovers by reveling in the feverish frenzy that human passion inspires.
The love shown in the poem is a free one as it is does not have to depend upon courtship and the certificate of wedlock for its gratification. This love only seeks material fulfillment for its success through violent and amorous love making which bears the power to translate the lovers’ passion and sensuality into a victory over Time – “Now let us sport us while we may and now, like am’rous birds of prey, rather at once our time devour than languish in its slow chapt power”.
Thus love focused upon physical pleasures has been given the status of the only defense which humans can adopt against mortality and the corroding influence of Time over human life because unlike “vegetable love”, this erotic love is fierce and has the relentless intensity that can even put Time to shame – “Thus though we cannot make our sun stand still yet we will make him run”. Such love views chastity, Puritanical abstinence and spirituality in love as a barrier against its gratification and youth, beauty and sensuality are represented as qualifying parameters for its success.
Thus we see that the success of “To His Coy Mistress” lies in the fact that it establishes love as a power that is stronger than Time and Death. This love forwarded by the poem is intrinsically carnal and it aims at magnifying the moments in which we live by squeezing maximum productivity out of the little time that is given to us through satisfying moments of sensual pleasures.