The poems I have chosen to write about are ‘They flee from me’ by Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542), ‘The unequal fetters’ by Anne finch (1661-1720) and ‘To his coy mistress’ by Andrew Marvell (1621-1678). I chose these poems because I found them attention-grabbing and remarkable as they all are based around the same topic of love and pretence. Also I liked these poems because of the fact that they have a message that is still true even in today’s world.
Wyatt wrote this poem as an epigram of what court life would be like and what would come along with it. They flee from me’ is a poem of love and what Thomas Wyatt’s attitudes are of love and hat it can do to you. The main theme of this poem is that women did just about anything to be with Thomas but eventually in hardly a long time they fled from him as the title suggests ‘They flee from me’. However an important theme is the uncertainty of life in the court of a cruel, fickle tyrant like Henry VIII. This suggests that although the life in the court of Henry VIII may be appealing and attractive it also comes with great dangers.
The poem is set in the 16th century. And is basically about Thomas Wyatt’s life and mainly in relation to women and what he thought of them. Coming from the title ‘They flee from me’ something is running away from Wyatt. And this something is women. The poem was written from a male point of view so this could mean that the whole poem was to one side i. e. biased in the favour of men. The type of language used is 16th century and uses words that we do not usually use now. Some of these words are ‘guise’, ‘forsaking’ and ‘newfangleness’.
Although there are these words, the poem is still understandable and they all blend in with the poem. Similes are used such as ‘gentle’, ‘tame’ and ‘meek’ and they are In the poem Wyatt mentions ‘They flee from me that sometime did me seek’ which implied that women would ‘seek’ for him wanting to be with him and now ‘They flee from me’ as if they have found someone else to love and desire. Wyatt’s use of this language is significant for the reason that all the words a written as if they have their own special meaning and have a relation to the poem which helps explain the message within the poem.
In the first verse women are considered to be ‘gentle’, ‘tame’ and ‘meek’. This is all of what Wyatt’s first impressions of women were when he would encounter them at the beginning. However, Wyatt’s first impressions on women would change not long after due to them moving on to the next man that caught their eye, as if they were ‘wild’ and ‘do not remember’ Wyatt and the times they had. He also says that the women were able ‘To take bread at my hand’ but ‘now they range’. This is the part when women were referred to being animal-like.
At the beginning of the poem, ‘I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek’, ‘To take bread at my hand; and now they range’. This is all to do with animals being ‘tame’ and ‘gentle’ to start off with, but eventually they ‘range’ and move on as if moving to the next prolific land to graze. In verse two Wyatt talks of a woman in particular he met before. He talks of a memory of a pleasant time he had with a special woman. He says ‘Twenty times better, but one in special’. He talks of the woman as a ‘pleasant guise’ with ‘her loose gown from her shoulders did fall’.
She was dressed in an attractive fashion meaning she was dressy well for the occasion, implicating she wore sexy clothes. This woman, so to speak, caught his love and held on to it. ‘She me caught in her arms long and small’. Wyatt describes the woman throughout the second verse, ‘in special’. In this verse he is being nostalgic, he looks back on the past about the relationships he once had as a young man. As she kissed him he fell in love with her immediately, ‘Therewithal sweetly did me kiss’. In verse three, Wyatt is writing a complaint about ‘newfangleness’ of infidelity.
This was because he was so nice and cared for this woman, and in return she goes away and moves on to the next man that she finds attractive. In this last verse, Thomas says that he hopes the woman gets what she receives. The structure of this poem is it has three stanzas which all represent the three tenses; past, present and future. There are seven lines in each verse which all link the message onto the next poem’s message. He talks equally of each tense in verse. In the whole poem there are twenty one lines in total and there are many significant rhymes.
The rhymes begin with every other line rhyming then it changes to every two lines rhyming. For example, ‘seek’, ‘chamber’, ‘meek’, ‘remember’ and, ‘fall’, ‘small’, ‘kiss’ and ‘this’. This poem can relate to modern day life because this till happens but only with men and with women. When a man gets old the woman simply finds a ‘boy toy’ and courts him instead. This is also the same with men. When the woman becomes too old the man finds a woman on side, a mistress perhaps, that can fulfil the needs his wife can’t. I feel that this poem speaks very much of the truth because it explains one fact about love.
That love does not always give you what you want it to even though you put your into it. The next poem I have chosen ‘The Unequal Fetters’ by Anne Finch. This poem sums up how some women may feel when their married. Although Anne Finch was an independent woman that never married, she somehow really understands the restrains that men put on women through marriage. The main theme of the poem is that after marriage women are restricted to do as they wish, where as men can do as they please. The poem is a sarcastic response to Herrick. Anne writes a female response to marrying young.
Verse one talks of how time flies ‘stop the time that’s flying’, and she also combines love with cost ‘make youth for ever last, to love would then be worth our cost’. She says love costs her freedom. If youth and beauty were to last for ever then it would be all worth while in the end. The cost of love is everything. Verse two is about aging and the loss of youth and beauty, ‘But since we must lose those graces’. ‘Graces’ are qualities and attractions that overtime are lost due to aging. ‘You seek for in new faces’. This means that when the woman is old the old, the husband will look for someone new and younger.
When our spring life is undone’, when she’s out of her prime, he’ll look for a younger, prettier woman. Anne compares seasons to life. ‘Spring’ is referred as a new beginning, a newborn, youth. ‘It would but urge our ruin on’ this is agreeing to be rejected. She is restricted to find someone else because she is again restricted through marriage. Verse three says nature made us to be free to do what we want when we want. Anne says she won’t be held down due to ‘subtle man’s invention’. ‘Man’s invention’ is marriage to refrain women from doing what they want.
She says that the reason why women are restricted and persuaded to marry young is that their virginity shows loyalty to men and that they only have their first sexual intercourse once married. Men considered virgins to be special as she hadn’t had any offspring with other men. So, women were considered as property. Men wanted to make sure the woman was theirs only and only produced that man’s offspring. It was all about men, women and breeding rights. Verse four explains that men are also tied down slightly because the woman knows once she’s married that’s it no more messing around.
But for men, they ‘still are begging love again’. Men become begging slaves, ‘larger slaves of Hymen’. As if they’re like dogs on a chain; like dogs of desire, ‘At the full length of their chain’. Men continue to be ‘begging for love again’ with other women. In the whole poem there are four different separate stanzas. Each stanza talks of the difference between men and women when it comes to love. There are five lines in each stanza and four lines in each verse rhyme with each other. My final poem I have chosen is ‘To His Coy Mistress’ by Andrew Marvell.
The poet emphasizes time and that we should make the most of it whilst we are still young and have our beauty. This is the main theme of the poem. Verse one is about how there is not enough time in the world. Andrew says that her coyness is wrong and she should be alive and make the most of her time. The whole message of the first verse is that his girlfriend deserves o be treated well and rightly and that she should also decide on how she treats herself. He uses geographical words like ‘Indian Ganges’ and ‘Humber’. The poet deliberately uses hyperbole and over exaggerates to get his point across to his girlfriend.
Marvell uses humour, flattery and biblical and geographical references as a way to show off his intelligence. In the middle of the first verse, he says that she can refuse him for ever until the conversion of Jews to becoming Christians. ‘Two hundred to adore each breast’, he admits that she deserves him to admire the different parts of her body. Throughout the poem, Andrew uses metaphors to describe the way he feels about his mistress. In the second verse, he has a change of thought about her. He begins to scare her into being with him, as if he is threatening her with the fact that time is running out.
That long-preserved virginity’, he says that she should give up her virginity. ‘And your quaint honour turn to dust’, if she still won’t give up her virginity; her honour, it will not be useful and will go unused and cherished. In the final verse he tells her to use up the time we have now otherwise we won’t know what could have been. He constantly uses the word ‘now’ as a way to make her do what he wants and he makes sure she listens because he tells her that everything should be done ‘now’.
He also says that life is very tough ‘pleasures with rough strife….. ron gates of life’ and that they have defeated time ‘we cannot make our sun stand still…… we will make him run’ The structure of the poem is very simple. It has rhyming couplets. This can allow the poem to make a number of cleverly phrased and memorable comments. The first stanza is a thesis that explains and concludes one side of the argument he is making. The second stanza is an anti-thesis that explains and concludes the other side of the argument. And the last stanza is a synthesis that is the conclusion of the whole argument he has made.