1.Summarize the speaker's argument:
The speaker argues that because life is short, the pleasure of sex should not be procrastinated about. All the techniques and excuses his Mistress makes to remain virginal are just a waste of time and youth.
2. Is the argument valid?
3. How would you refute it?
There are many reasons why she may not want to give in to him immediately. She may not really be intending on having sex with him at all, but is trying to be polite about refusing him. Or, she may want to wait until married to have sex.
4. Many consider this poem to be a satire; what is it satirizing?
5. Marvell uses a literary technique called "hyperbole" - (a form of exaggeration); give two examples:
Marvell writes, “I would / Love you ten years before the Flood” (8-9). Neither of the lovers were even alive at the time, but he is trying to show the impossible and Biblical proportions of what he feels her waiting asks of him.
Marvell adds, “An hundred years should go to praise / Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze” (13-14). Even if they had that much time to love each other, they would probably find better things to do.
6. Why does Marvell use hyperbole?
He uses hyperbole to illustrate the true, priceless value of his Mistress is in a flattering way, while at the same time showing the impossibility of ever being able to complete this type of love in a mortal life time.
7. What conclusion does Marvell draw?
The best way to strike against the shortness of mortal life is to take action, to love each other now.
8. What support(s)/evidence does he give?
But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity. (21-24)
This is to show that he (and she) should be aware that life is short and death is always approaching. It is not the eternity of an immortal life, as he talked about earlier, but an eternity in the grave. Marvell also uses some pretty gruesome images of death to illustrate the reality of it, writing “then worms shall try/ That long preserv'd virginity” (27-28).
9. How does his commentary use the support to argue for the conclusion?
Marvell writes, “And now, like am'rous birds of prey,/ Rather at once our time devour” (38-39). This implies that it is up to the two of them to seize the moment, to take control of the time they have, and to love each other here and now. He also writes, “though we cannot make our sun/ Stand still, yet we will make him run” (45-46). Is this another way of saying time goes faster when having fun? If so, then he supports his conclusion by saying that the best way to spend the fleeting time in mortal life is in pleasurable pursuits.
10. Write a counter-point (poetry or prose) from the woman's point of view
My dear, you speak of love, our love divine,
It’s true, when I am with you my eyes shine
And deep within my soul, for you I long.
I know it puzzles you that I resist
With life so short, what danger to be kissed,
Indulging love with pleasure and with play?
Yet how can I be sure your love is true
When any man can speak these words to me?
Since life is short, perhaps your love is too,
So let time show how strong your love will be.
With more than words, in any way you can,
Show me your love’s not just of any man.