“To His Coy Mistress” (a poem)

 Hans Zatzka – 1945 – In the Atelier, The Shy Model (Wikimedia Commons)

“To His Coy Mistress” was written by Andrew Marvell, who was born on this day – 31 March 1621 – and died in 1678. He was an English poet, satirist and politician.
Here are some lines:

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime. […]

But at my back I always hear
Time’s winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity. […]

The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace. […]

Following the conventions of the Horatian theme of carpe diem, the poem is an invitation to his mistress to abandon her false modesty and not to waste time because human life is short. Therefore, the pleasures of physical love are to be enjoyed on earth since no one can embrace in death.

Alla sua amante ritrosa

Se solo avessimo abbastanza Spazio e Tempo,
la vostra ritrosia, Signora, non sarebbe un delitto. […]

Ma alle mie spalle io sento incessantemente
appressarsi il carro alato del tempo:
e laggiù, davanti a noi, si stendono
deserti d’immensa eternità. […]

Certo la tomba è un luogo bello e intimo
ma penso che nessuno si abbracci là. […]

25 thoughts on ““To His Coy Mistress” (a poem)

  1. I was so pleased to see this poem here. I used it extensively when I taught poetry in university years ago. The opening line, “Had we but world enough and time, This coyness, lady, were no crime” is etched in my brain forever. Thanks for giving this geezer a nice trip down memory lane. Ti salute! 🍷

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A coy mistress? 🙂
    I hope you are holding up.
    Here they supposedly closed all non-essential business last night.
    Went for a brief walk to the centre at noon. Of course many non-essential businesses were still open…

    Liked by 1 person

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