Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"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
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 winged 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 preserv'd 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 am'rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Other good seduction poems:
(N. B.: I am not responsible for the consequences of this poetry. -- C. K.)
"To His Mistress, Going to Bed" by John Donne
"Love's Philosophy" by Percy Bysshe Shelley
"since feeling is first" by e. e. cummings
"Yes" by Catherine Doty


  1. I wrote a poem once, in college, called Answer to Andrew Marvell. Began something like this:

    Deserts of vast eternity have bloomed, O Lord/You with your living water/ have draped
    the moss/ have sweetened the fruit/ have gathered the warm desert waters to the shore/
    and await me there/ tending the embers/ and warming your hands by the fire.

  2. Hm, is that Marvin Gaye singing "Let's Get It On" in the background?

  3. "Love in the Cathedral" Miller Williams.

  4. Melinda-LOL!

    Yeah, that sounds so much better than, C'mon Baby, don't you love me? You're just SO hot, I can't take it.

    But, of course, the message is the same. Men never change. Ha.

  5. I know this poem has long come in for feminist critique/answer, and it's probably justified; but I love it because it's so clever and elegant and (yes) damn sexy, with phrases that make me smile every time I read them: "vegetable love," "a fine and private place," "all our strength / and all our sweetness," "yet we will make him run" . . . If a man has ulterior motives in wooing me, by goodness he should do it like this! :-)