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      Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)

               To his Coy Mistress.

    Had we but World enough, and Time,
    This coyness Lady, were no crime.
    We would sit down, and think which way
    To walk, and pass our long Loves Day.
    Thou by the Indian Ganges side
    Should'st Rubies find: I by the Tide
    Of Humber would complain. I would
    Love you ten years before the Flood:
    And you should if you please refuse
    Till the Conversion of the Jews.
    My vegetable Love should grow
    Vaster then Empires, and more slow.
    An hundred years should go to praise
    Thine Eyes, and on thy Forehead Gaze.
    Two hundred to adore each Breast:
    But thirty thousand to the rest.
    An Age at least to every part,
    And the last Age should show your Heart.
    For Lady you deserve this State;
    Nor would I love at lower rate.
        But at my back I alwaies hear
    Times winged Charriot hurrying near:
    And yonder all before us lye
    Desarts of vast Eternity.
    Thy Beauty shall no more be found;
    Nor, in thy marble Vault, shall sound
    My ecchoing Song: then Worms shall try
    That long preserv'd Virginity:
    And your quaint Honour turn to dust;
    And into ashes all my Lust.
    The Grave's a fine and private place,
    But none I think do there embrace.
        Now therefore, while the youthful glew
    Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
    And while thy willing Soul transpires
    At every pore with instant Fires,
    Now let us sport us while we may;
    And now, like am'rous birds of prey,
    Rather at once our Time devour,
    Than languish in his slow-chapt pow'r.
    Let us roll all our Strength, and all
    Our sweetness, up into one Ball:
    And tear our Pleasures with rough strife,
    Thorough the Iron gates of Life.
    Thus, though we cannot make our Sun
    Stand still, yet we will make him run.


First published in 1681, To His Coy Mistress is one of the most anthologized poems in the English language. It can be found in:
  • Bloom, Harold, ed. The Best Poems of the English Language. New York: Harper Perennial, 2004.
  • Harmon, William, ed. The Classic Hundred Poems. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.

    The above version, along with an early, alternate version, can be found in:

  • Kelliher, Hilton, compiler. Andrew Marvell, Poet & Politician, 1621-78. An exhibition to commemorate the tercentenary of his death. British Library Reference Division, 14 July 1 - October 1978. London: British Museum Publications Limited, 1978.