Books Poetry

Andrew Marvell and His Coy Mistress

Andrew Marvell
Andrew Marvell

Today is the birthday of Andrew Marvell (March 31,1621 – August 16,1678), the author of one of the most anthologized love poems, To His Coy Mistress. I love the poem. I saw it described somewhere as a lover asking a virgin to sleep with him. But that is overlooking its wit, its playfulness, its ardour. It’s importunate, urgent, passionate, the way you are when you fall in love, when you constantly think, want to be with and hold your lover and say how much you adore her.

Unabashed, uninhibited, the poem is an unrestrained call for lovemaking, frankly dwelling with feverish anticipation on the eyes and breasts, virginity and dewy skin of the beauty the lover wants to embrace in sheer ecstasy.

Sensual, hedonistic, carnal — the poem is all that, but driving this sexual longing is a sobering thought, mortality. Let’s make the most of the time we have before we die, the poet says, because
“The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.”

Books Poetry

On Julia’s Clothes and 99 other most popular poems

This must be one of the shortest, heavily anthologized poems in the English language. On Julia’s Clothes, by Robert Herrick, runs to only six lines. But, witty and playful, this 17th century poem is one of the 100 most anthologized poems in the English language, according to the Columbia Granger’s World of Poetry. Here are links to the top 100. But first…

On Julia’s Clothes
By Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free,
O how that glittering taketh me!

Roguish but charming, isn’t it?