To his Coy Mistress

Original Text: 
Andrew Marvell, Miscellaneous Poems, ed. Mary Marvell (1681). Facs. edn.: Scolar Press, 1969. PR 3546 A1 1681A ROBA.
1Had we but world enough, and time,
2This coyness, lady, were no crime.
3We would sit down and think which way
4To walk, and pass our long love's day;
5Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
6Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
8Love you ten years before the Flood;
9And you should, if you please, refuse
12Vaster than empires, and more slow.
13An hundred years should go to praise
14Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
15Two hundred to adore each breast,
16But thirty thousand to the rest;
17An age at least to every part,
18And the last age should show your heart.
19For, lady, you deserve this state,
20Nor would I love at lower rate.
21      But at my back I always hear
22Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
23And yonder all before us lie
24Deserts of vast eternity.
25Thy beauty shall no more be found,
26Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
27My echoing song; then worms shall try
28That long preserv'd virginity,
30And into ashes all my lust.
31The grave's a fine and private place,
32But none I think do there embrace.
33      Now therefore, while the youthful hue
35And while thy willing soul transpires
37Now let us sport us while we may;
38And now, like am'rous birds of prey,
39Rather at once our time devour,
41Let us roll all our strength, and all
42Our sweetness, up into one ball;
43And tear our pleasures with rough strife
44Thorough the iron gates of life.
45Thus, though we cannot make our sun
46Stand still, yet we will make him run.


7] Humber: Hull, where Marvell lived as a boy, and which he represented as an M.P. for nearly twenty years from 1659, is on the river Humber. Back to Line
10] The conversion of the Jews was to take place just before the end of the world. Back to Line
11] vegetable love: that of his "vegetable" soul. Back to Line
29] quaint: elegant, artificial. Back to Line
34] dew. The original reading is "glew," which has been justified as meaning "glow." Back to Line
36] instant: immediate and urgent. Back to Line
40] slow-chapp'd: i.e., with slow-devouring jaws. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.350-51.