Andrew Marvell's Poetry
Support for studying English GCSE and A Level
Annotation prompts for Andrew Marvell’s ‘To His Coy Mistress’
‘To His Coy Mistress’ is about love and time. Marvell (31.03.1621 – 16.08.1678) was an English author / politician / one of the 17th century English ‘metaphysical poets’ – a term coined by Samuel Johnson. These poets creatively use conceits (extended metaphors), wit, and engage with topics such as love and religion. ‘Metaphysics’ = branch of philosophy. It deals with first principles, including ontology (nature of existence) / cosmology (origin and structure of universe – laws, space, time, causality, and freedom) / intimately connected with epistemology (origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge).
Date of the poem’s (‘To His Coy Mistress’) composition is unknown. 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. It is considered one of Marvell's finest and is possibly the best recognised carpe diem poem in English.
The annotation prompts are a supportive tool, intended to encourage further analysis and interpretation.