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 Loves Day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges side
Should'st 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.
A 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 wingèd chariot hurrying near:
And yonder all before us lye
Desarts of vast Eternity.
Thy Beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble Vault, shall sound
My ecchoing 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 hew
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-chapt pow'r.
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.
"To His Coy Mistress" is a metaphysical poem written by the English author and politician Andrew Marvell (1621–1678) either during or just before the English Interregnum (1649–60). It was published posthumously in 1681.
This poem is considered one of Marvell's finest and is possibly the best recognised carpe diem poem in English. Although the date of its composition is not known, it may have been written in the early 1650s. At that time, Marvell was serving as a tutor to the daughter of the retired commander of the New Model Army, Sir Thomas Fairfax.
The speaker of the poem starts by addressing a woman who has been slow to respond to his romantic advances. In the first stanza he describes how he would pay court to her if he were to be unencumbered by the constraints of a normal lifespan. He could spend centuries admiring each part of her body and her resistance to his advances (i.e., coyness) would not discourage him. In the second stanza, he laments how short human life is. Once life is over, the speaker contends, the opportunity to enjoy one another is gone, as no one embraces in death. In the last stanza, the speaker urges the woman to requite his efforts, and argues that in loving one another with passion they will both make the most of the brief time they have to live.
The poem is written in iambic tetrameter and rhymes in couplets. The first verse paragraph ("Had we...") is ten couplets long, the second ("But...") six, and the third ("Now therefore...") seven. The logical form of the poem runs: if... but... therefore....
Until recently, "To His Coy Mistress" had been received by many as a poem that follows the traditional conventions of carpe diem love poetry. Some modern critics, however, argue Marvell's use of complex and ambiguous metaphors challenges the perceived notions of the poem. It as well raises suspicion of irony and deludes the reader with its inappropriate and jarring imagery.
Some critics believe the poem is an ironic statement on sexual seduction. They reject the idea that Marvell's poem carries a serious and solemn mood. Rather, the poem's opening lines—"Had we but world enough, and time/ This coyness, Lady, were no crime"—seems to suggest quite a whimsical tone of regret. In the second part of the poem, there is a sudden transition into imagery that involves graves, marble vaults and worms. The narrator's use of such metaphors to depict a realistic and harsh death that awaits the lovers seems to be a way of shocking the lady into submission. As well, critics note the sense of urgency of the narrator in the poem's third section, especially the alarming comparison of the lovers to "amorous birds of prey".
At least two poets have taken up the challenge of responding to Marvell's poem in the character of the lady so addressed. Annie Finch's "Coy Mistress"suggests that poetry is a more fitting use of their time than lovemaking, while A.D. Hope's "His Coy Mistress to Mr. Marvell" turns down the offered seduction outright.
Many authors have borrowed the phrase "World enough and time" from the poem's opening line to use in their book titles. The most famous is Robert Penn Warren's 1950 novel World Enough and Time: A Romantic Novel, about murder in early-19th-century Kentucky. With variations, it has also been used for books on the philosophy of physics (World Enough and Space-Time: Absolute versus Relational Theories of Space and Time), geopolitics (World Enough and Time: Successful Strategies for Resource Management), a science-fiction collection (Worlds Enough & Time: Five Tales of Speculative Fiction), and a biography of the poet (World Enough and Time: The Life of Andrew Marvell). The phrase is used as a title chapter in Andreas Wagner's pop science book on the origin of variation in organisms, "Arrival of the Fittest". 's Series 10 finale. It is the title of a Star Trek New Voyages fan episode where George Takei reprises his role as Sulu after being lost in a rift in time. The title of Robert A. Heinlein's 1973 novel Time Enough for Love also echoes this line.The verse serves as an epigraph to Mimesis , literary critic Erich Auerbach's most famous book. It is also the title of an episode of Big Finish Productions's The Diary of River Song series 2, and of part 1 of Doctor Who
Also in the field of science fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin wrote a Hugo-nominated short story whose title, "Vaster than Empires and More Slow", is taken from the poem. Ian Watson notes the debt of this story to Marvell, "whose complex and allusive poems are of a later form of pastoral to that which I shall refer, and, like Marvell, Le Guin's nature references are, as I want to argue, "pastoral" in a much more fundamental and interesting way than this simplistic use of the term."There are other allusions to the poem in the field of Fantasy and Science Fiction: the first book of James Kahn's "New World Series" is titled "World Enough, and Time"; the third book of Joe Haldeman's "Worlds" trilogy is titled "Worlds Enough and Time"; and Peter S. Beagle's novel A Fine and Private Place about a love affair between two ghosts in a graveyard. The latter phrase has been widely used as a euphemism for the grave, and has formed the title of several mystery novels.
Brian Aldiss's novel Hothouse , set in a distant future in which the earth is dominated by plant life, opens with "My vegetable love should grow / vaster than empires, and more slow."
Terry Pratchett opens his poem An Ode to Multiple Universes with "I do have worlds enough and time / to spare an hour to find a rhyme / to take a week to pen an article / a day to find a rhyme for ‘particle’."
The phrase "there will be time" occurs repeatedly in a section of T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (1915), and is often said to be an allusion to Marvell's poem.Prufrock says that there will be time "for the yellow smoke that slides along the street", time "to murder and create", and time "for a hundred indecisions ... Before the taking of a toast and tea". As Eliot's hero is, in fact, putting off romance and consummation, he is (falsely) answering Marvell's speaker. Eliot also alludes to the lines near the end of Marvell's poem, "Let us roll all our strength and all / Our sweetness up into one ball", with his lines, "To have squeezed the universe into a ball / To roll it toward some overwhelming question," as Prufrock questions whether or not such an act of daring would have been worth it. Eliot returns to Marvell in The Waste Land with the lines "But at my back in a cold blast I hear / The rattle of the bones" (Part III, line 185) and "But at my back from time to time I hear / The sound of horns and motors" (Part III, line 196).
The line "deserts of vast eternity" is used in the novel Orlando: A Biography , by Virginia Woolf, which was published in 1928.
Archibald MacLeish's poem "You, Andrew Marvell", alludes to the passage of time and to the growth and decline of empires. In his poem, the speaker, lying on the ground at sunset, feels "the rising of the night". He visualizes sunset, moving from east to west geographically, overtaking the great civilizations of the past, and feels "how swift how secretly / The shadow of the night comes on."
B. F. Skinner quotes "But at my back I always hear / Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near", through his character Professor Burris in Walden Two , who is in a confused mood of desperation, lack of orientation, irresolution and indecision. (Prentice Hall 1976, Chapter 31, p. 266). This line is also quoted in Ernest Hemingway's novel A Farewell to Arms , as in Arthur C. Clarke's short story, The Ultimate Melody .
The same line appears in full in the opening minutes of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death (1946), spoken by the protagonist, pilot and poet Peter Carter: 'But at my back I always hear / Time's wingéd chariot hurrying near; And yonder all before us lie / Deserts of vast eternity. Andy Marvell, What a marvel'.
Primo Levi roughly quotes Marvell in his 1983 poem "The Mouse," which describes the artistic and existential pressures of the awareness that time is finite. He expresses annoyance at the sentiment to seize the day, stating, "And at my back it seems to hear / Some winged curved chariot hurrying near. / What impudence! What conceit! / I really was fed up."
The line "A fine and private place, but none, I think, do there embrace" appears in Stephen King's novel Pet Sematary .
One of the Flavia de Luce novels by Alan Bradley is titled “the Grave’s a Fine and Private Place”.
The line "My vegetable love should grow / Vaster than empires, and more slow" is quoted by William S. Burroughs in the last entry of his diary (July 29, 1997).
The song "Am I alone and unobserved?" in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta Patience contains the line, "If he's content with a vegetable love that would certainly not suit me..." in reference to the aesthete protagonist affecting to prefer the company of flowers to that of women.
The poem, along with Marvell's 'The Definition of Love', is heavily referenced throughout the 1997 film The Daytrippers , in which the main character finds a note she believes may be from her husband's mistress. In several scenes, the two Marvell poems are alluded to, quoted, and sometimes directly discussed.
The line "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." Is used as the preamble to part three of Greg Bear's Nebula award winning novel Moving Mars .
In The Time Traveler's Wife , by Audrey Niffenegger, one of the main characters, Henry, recites the line "To world enough, and time," at several crucial points in the story.
"Le char ailé du Temps" (Time's winged chariot) is the French translation (by Bernard Sigaud, 2013) of a short story by Nina Allan (2009), whose original title is just "Time's Chariot".
Brian quotes the line "Had we but world enough, and time" in season 5 episode 5 of Queer as Folk.
World and Time Enough is a 1994 independent gay-themed romantic comedy-drama written and directed by Eric Mueller.
In Frasier (season 10, episode 9), Niles, who has recently had heart surgery, says: "Good health is not a competition. When you've heard time's winged chariot hurrying near, as I have, every day is a gift."
Dan Simmons is an American science fiction and horror writer. He is the author of the Hyperion Cantos and the Ilium/Olympos cycles, among other works which span the science fiction, horror, and fantasy genres, sometimes within a single novel. Simmons's genre-intermingling Song of Kali (1985) won the World Fantasy Award. He also writes mysteries and thrillers, some of which feature the continuing character Joe Kurtz.
Andrew Marvell was an English metaphysical poet, satirist and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1659 and 1678. During the Commonwealth period he was a colleague and friend of John Milton. His poems range from the love-song "To His Coy Mistress", to evocations of an aristocratic country house and garden in "Upon Appleton House" and "The Garden", the political address "An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland", and the later personal and political satires "Flecknoe" and "The Character of Holland".
"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", commonly known as "Prufrock", is the first professionally published poem by American-born British poet T. S. Eliot (1888–1965). The poem relates the varying thoughts its title character in a kind of stream of consciousness. Eliot began writing "Prufrock" in February 1910, and it was first published in the June 1915 issue of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse at the instigation of Ezra Pound (1885–1972). It was later printed as part of a twelve-poem pamphlet titled Prufrock and Other Observations in 1917. At the time of its publication, Prufrock was considered outlandish, but is now seen as heralding a paradigmatic cultural shift from late 19th-century Romantic verse and Georgian lyrics to Modernism.
"Gerontion" is a poem by T. S. Eliot that was first published in 1920 in Ara Vos Prec and Poems. The title is Greek for "little old man," and the poem is a dramatic monologue relating the opinions and impressions of an elderly man, which describes Europe after World War I through the eyes of a man who has lived most of his life in the 19th century. Two years after it was published, Eliot considered including the poem as a preface to The Waste Land, but was talked out of this by Ezra Pound. Along with "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and The Waste Land, and other works published by Eliot in the early part of his career, '"Gerontion" discusses themes of religion, sexuality, and other general topics of modernist poetry.
An extended metaphor, also known as a conceit or sustained metaphor, is the use of a single metaphor or analogy at length in a work of literature. It differs from a mere metaphor in its length, and in having more than one single point of contact between the object described and the comparison used to describe it. These implications are repeatedly emphasized, discovered, rediscovered, and progressed in new ways.
In English literature, The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd (1600), by Walter Raleigh, is a poem that responds to and parodies the poem “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” (1599), by Christopher Marlowe. In her reply to the shepherd’s courtship, the nymph presents a point-by-point rejection of the his offer of a transitory life of passion and pastoral idyll.
"To a Mountain Daisy", On Turning one Down, With The Plough, in April 1786 is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1786. It was included in the Kilmarnock volume of Burns's poems, published in that year.
"Locksley Hall" is a poem written by Alfred Tennyson in 1835 and published in his 1842 collection of Poems. It narrates the emotions of a rejected suitor upon coming to his childhood home, an apparently fictional Locksley Hall, though in fact Tennyson was a guest of the Arundel family in their stately home named Loxley Hall, in Staffordshire, where he spent much of his time writing whilst on his visits.
A resistant reading is a reading of a text which moves beyond the dominant cultural beliefs to challenge prevailing views. It means to read a text as it was not meant to be read; in fact reading the text against itself.
"To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time" is a 1648 poem by the English Cavalier poet Robert Herrick. The poem is in the genre of carpe diem, Latin for "seize the day".
"The Garden" is a widely anthologized poem by the seventeenth-century English poet, Andrew Marvell. The poem was first published posthumously in Miscellaneous Poems (1681). “The Garden” is one of several poems by Marvell to feature gardens, including his “Nymph Complaining for the Death her Fawn,” “The Mower Against Gardens,” and “Upon Appleton House.”
"Portrait of a Lady" is a poem by American-British poet T. S. Eliot (1888–1965), first published in September 1915 in Others: A Magazine of the New Verse. It was published again in March 1916 in Others: An Anthology of the New Verse, in February 1917 in The New Poetry: An Anthology, and finally in his 1917 collection of poems, Prufrock and Other Observations.
— First lines from Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress, first published (posthumously) this year
Ode on the Departing Year was composed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1796. The poem describes Coleridge's feelings on politics and religion, and it emphasises an idyllic lifestyle as an optimal way of living.
The Eolian Harp is a poem written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1795 and published in his 1796 poetry collection. It is one of the early conversation poems and discusses Coleridge's anticipation of a marriage with Sara Fricker along with the pleasure of conjugal love. However, The Eolian Harp is not a love poem and instead focuses on man's relationship with nature. The central images of the poem is an Aeolian harp, an item that represents both order and wildness in nature. Along with the harp is a series of oppositional ideas that are reconciled with each other. The Eolian Harp also contains a discussion on "One Life", Coleridge's idea that humanity and nature are united along with his desire to try to find the divine within nature. The poem was well received for both its discussion of nature and its aesthetic qualities.
Nicholas Murray is a British biographer, poet and journalist.
T. S. Eliot's 1915 poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is often referenced in popular culture.
"Vaster than Empires and More Slow" is a science fiction story by American author Ursula K. Le Guin, first published in the collection New Dimensions 1, edited by Robert Silverberg. It is set in the fictional Hainish universe, where Earth is a member of an interstellar "League of Worlds". The anthology was released in United States in 1971, by Doubleday Books.
World Enough and Time is a phrase from the poem "To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell, published in 1681, which has been used in the title of various other works: