Study Guide

To His Coy Mistress Tough-O-Meter

By Andrew Marvell

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(5) Tree Line

Even before we look up any unfamiliar words, this poem is pretty "easy," in the sense that we can understand that the speaker uses an argument about time to try to convince his mistress to have sex with him. Yet, because Andrew Marvell’s poem presents a complicated movement, a strange dance rich with images, word play, and plenty of room for our own imaginations to fly, and because he doesn’t give us any actual details about the speaker or the mistress, we end up with some difficulty processing all the different possibilities and meanings. But, don’t get hung up on that – just follow your imagination, and don’t be afraid to apply the poem to your own life. You can read good poetry over and over again, and always get something new out of it. If you like the way this poem sounds, and like what it’s talking about, it can stay with you for years. Pick a line you really like and ponder it, over and over. You can make it as simple or as complex as you like.

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