The Theme of Romantic Love in To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell and Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy

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The Theme of Romantic Love in To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell and Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy

For this assignment, I have chosen to analyse two contrasting poems. The first poem is "To His Coy Mistress" which was written in1650 by the English poet Andrew Marvell, and it is surprising how modern the subject matter is. This poem uses language to persuade the poet's mistress into shedding her coyness. The second poem, "Valentine" by the contemporary poet Carol Ann Duffy sets out to show how the poet casts aside the traditional artificial values of love, to place instead her own truthful picture of love.

"To His Coy Mistress" is a classic seductive poem, a carpe diem poem, in which the
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Thou by the Indian Ganges' side

Should'st rubies find: I by the tide

Of Humber would complain."

India was thought to be very exotic, and the people of Marvell's time were fascinated by the idea of the precious stones and metals brought to England from the East. However, there is a more cynical overtone to this. It was imagined in the seventeenth century that rubies could assist in preserving virginity. Here Marvell is suggesting that if the pair did have all the time in the world, she could afford to keep her virginity as long as she chose. If she did choose to remain a virgin, the speaker would have time to sit by the River Humber and sing songs about unrequited love. The river Humber runs through Hull, the city of Marvell's birth, so he gives himself a fairly unromantic setting and allows the lady an exotic, beautiful one, which is meant to be a persuasive compliment.

This theme is continued in Marvell's words,

"I would

Love you ten years before the flood:

And you should, if you please, refuse,

Till the conversion of the Jews."

Effectively, what Marvell is saying here, is that his love is so strong, that even if she refused him for all of time, from the beginning until the end of the world as it is now, his love for her could not be damaged.

Marvell also uses hyperbole in order to persuade his

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