Study Guide

To His Coy Mistress Stanza II (lines 21-32)

By Andrew Marvell

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Stanza II (lines 21-32)

Lines 21-22

But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near;

  • And, then, he gives her a huge gigantic "BUT." Ouch. You see, the speaker hears something behind him: "Time’s winged chariot," to be exact.
  • He’s being chased down by Time’s hybrid car!
  • He doesn’t say who’s driving, but we can assume it’s probably Time.

Lines 23-24

And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.

  • Then, he seems to have a hallucination.
  • Look, he tells the mistress, look at all this sand. The future is just endless sand.
  • We’re all going to die.

Line 25

Thy beauty shall no more be found,

  • And you won’t look so pretty there, missy.

Lines 26

Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound

  • You sure won’t be able to hear my pretty song when you are in a "grave."

Lines 27-28

My echoing song: then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity,

  • This next part is even creepier.
  • The speaker tells the mistress that, in the grave, worms will have sex with her.
  • According to the line, she’s a virgin.

Line 29

And your quaint honour turn to dust,

  • In the grave, her "quaint honor" will completely disintegrate.
  • According to The Norton Anthology of English Literature, "quaint" is a euphemism that means "vagina."
  • So, he’s telling her that she can’t take her virginity with her into the afterlife, and making icky jokes about her vagina.

Line 30

And into ashes all my lust:

  • Next, he tells her that if they die without having sex together, his "lust" or desire, will all burn up, with nothing left but the "ashes."
  • Interestingly, he seems to imply that, if he can’t have sex with her, he won’t have sex at all.

Lines 31-32

The grave 's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.

  • He rubs in the whole thing by telling her that coffins are great: they have lots of privacy, but no hugging!

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