The two poems I am studying are ‘To His Coy Mistress’ by Andrew Marvell and ‘The Beggar Woman’ by William King. ‘To His Coy Mistress’ looks at the attitudes one man holds towards his girlfriends’ unwillingness to have sex with him. The poems main aim is to persuade. ‘The Beggar Woman’ conveys one mans ideas on prostitution and sex. He seems to think sex has no consequences. Although both poems discuss sex, both give very different views, on and surrounding the topic.
The poems are strongly influenced by religious views that were held at that time. To His Coy Mistress’ conveys the love one man has for his girlfriend and how he wants to make their love complete by having sex. Marvell uses two main tactics in his poem to convince her. At first Marvell writes using romance to try and persuade his girlfriend to have sex with him. He uses sentences like ‘I would love you ten years before the flood’ this suggests that he would love her even before the world began it also introduces religion into the poem which is probably one of the reasons his girlfriend won’t have sex with him.
By Marvell writing about religion it would make his reasoning seem more acceptable to his girlfriend. Marvell writes that she can go to the Ganges and collect rubies and he would stay by the Humber and wait for her to return. Rubies are a romantic rock that symbolise love which is probably why he decided to use them as an example. Also if one of them wanted to do something individually he thinks it would be fine because they would know that they would eventually be together and they wouldn’t be wasting their life away.
This is very convincing as Marvell is trying to understand her point but introduce her to a different way of thinking at the same time. He also writes ‘two hundred years to adore each breast’ this shows that if he had all the time in the world he would wait and spend his time adoring each part of her body. This makes the girl secure feels and loved. Marvell uses metaphors such as, ‘my vegetable love should grow vaster than empires and more slow.
I think Marvell uses this metaphor to tell her that if he had more time, he would nurture her and care for her just like you would a vegetable or plant. Up to this point Marvell writes as if life lasted for infinity, from here it changes and he puts a time limit to things as he says, ‘and at the last age should you show your heart’ which means after he had finished adoring her and they had both done what they had to do, then they could settle down and talk about how much they love each other. The next tactic Marvell uses is to scare her into doing things.
Marvell starts to talk about death using metaphors such as ‘time’s winged chariot hurrying near,’ this suggests that Marvell can feel death creeping up on him, and he feels it’s always around him. Although he is trying to scare her, he is letting his desperation show through which makes him seem quite vulnerable. He writes ‘thy beauty shall not be found’ which means she will no longer be young and beautiful but old and ugly and much less attractive, this will probably make the girlfriend worried about becoming older, and worried that when she is ready to have sex, she will be too ugly for him to want her anymore.
Marvell then starts to really try and scare her writing things like ‘nor in my marble vault shall sound my echoing song: then worms shall try that long-preserved virginity’ this means that while the girl is dead and lying in her coffin worms will take her virginity away. This would shock and disgust the girlfriend, which is the exact effect that Marvell wants to create, it would perhaps convince her to have sex before it was too late. Marvell begins to end by saying so while we’re young, we still have time and can still have sex, why don’t we?
Marvell writes ‘rather at once our time devour’ this means we should get the most out of the time we’ve got. To eventually finish Marvell says ‘thus, though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we can still make him run. This means, we can’t really stop the sun, but while it’s still moving around the world we may as well enjoy it. I think this ending is really effective because it sums up Marvell’s point really effectively, and would remain in the girlfriends mind even after reading the poem. It is important to sum up what he is trying to say at the end in case some of his points heave been forgotten.
Ending with a sentence like this introduces the aim of the poem back into the girls mind. The second poem I have been studying is called Beggar Woman. This tells the story of one supposed gentleman and his talk with a prostitute. The first sentence William king writes is ‘a gentleman in hunting rode astray. ‘ At first you are made to think that while he and some other people were out hunting he has got purposely lost, but if you analyse this sentence closer, it could also mean, that by doing what he is about to do he has morally gone astray.
The man has very stone age views about woman and talks about her as a piece of meat, this just shows his ignorance and helps build up to the ending, by making the audience want him to receive some type of punishment. The man suggests they go into the woods; as a result the readers receive the impression that he is the initiator of the whole thing and therefore the readers start to believe he should receive punishment for his behaviour. Already the audience are bias towards the prostitute. King writes ‘he ambles on before, she trots behind’ this conveys who has the power at the time and who is more desperate for them to have sex.
This is clever of the prostitute as she is portraying herself to the audience and to the man, that she is unaffected by the whole situation, but already slightly vulnerable. The words ‘amble’ and ‘trot’ are really effective, it shows who has the control, the fact that the way the woman walks is called amble, portrays the image of someone who is frail and unable to look after herself. The manner of which the man walks is named ‘trot’, this gives the idea that he knows his place in the world; he is a gentleman with a powerful walk.
After a while the man becomes cocky and overly confident that he has got the prostitute and will be able to have sex with her. We know this as it says ‘then thinks the squire, I have the matter sure. ‘ This is amusing to the reader the second time it is read as, the man is so ignorant and can’t even see what’s about to happen, the reader wants something to happen to the man just to teach him a lesson.
The woman starts to make excuses about not sitting down first she jokes saying ‘sitting ‘s not in my usual trade,’ then she says ‘I might perhaps break more backs than my own. We then realise that she has a baby attached to her back, the man notices this and says to lie it down, not caring whether it cries. He still doesn’t seem to realise the consequences of having sex, even though a consequence is staring him in the face. All this makes the audience want to know what is going to happen, and wonder why she doesn’t want to sit down. The woman says ‘Mighty well, sir. Oh lord! If tied to you,’ this sentence is really over the top and makes the reader aware that something isn’t right. This is a good effect, as it also makes the reader curious and makes them want to continue reading.
She ties the baby to the man with haste, so he doesn’t realises what is happening and says goodbye and tells him that she trusts him with her child. The reader becomes confused and then realises what has happened, the reader is satisfied with the results as it teaches the man the consequences of sex. The end contains a twist as early on we were given the idea that the man had the upper hand and was the more powerful one out of the two of them, but at the end the power has switched, the woman is in control, and for a change the man has to live with the consequences of sex. Although both poems discuss sex both are also very different.
To His Coy Mistress’ has a very rigid pattern with four feet tetrameter lines, while ‘Beggar ‘Woman’ is less rigid, and there isn’t much structure in the poem. ‘To His Coy Mistress’ is in first person narrator so we assume Marvell is writing about his own experiences, but ‘Beggar Woman’ is written in third person and it tells us a story. Also the themes in each poem are different e. g. ‘The Beggar Woman’ is about, different views on prostitution, power in society between sexes and the consequences of sex, while ‘To His Coy Mistress’ main theme is ‘carpe diem’ which means ‘seize the day.
There are three main similarities, men want sex, both men are refused sex and in both poems the women are in control and hold all the power. ‘To His Coy Mistress’ main aim is to persuade the woman. ‘The Beggar Woman’s main aim is to tell us a story, although the poems are about a similar topic the ways in which the topics are presented are very different. I prefer to his coy mistress as the structure and the rhyming couplets are a lot more effective.