Guest poem sent in by Vikram Doctor - Semiperiodic reminder - do keep submitting guest poems, people. And thanks to Vikram for the number of excellent pieces he has sent in.
(Poem #158) 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 love's day. Thou by the Indian Ganges' side Shoulds't rubies find: I by the tide Oh 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 than 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. No 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 always hear Time's wing'ed chariot hurrying near And yonder all before us lie Deserts of vast eternity. Thy duty shall no more be found, Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound My echoing song: then worms shall try That long preserved 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 hue 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 amorous birds of prey, Rather at once our time devour Than languish in his slow-chapt power Let us roll all our strength and all Our sweetness up into one ball, And tear our pleasures with rough strife Through the iron gates of life Thus though we cannot make our sun Stand still, yet we will make him run.
Marvell's poem is charming and funny, but the reason I'm sending this is not so much for the poem itself, as for how a friend of mine used it to get some rather unlikely people to appreciate poetry. These were a group of college jocks whom my friend was tutoring to prepare them for foreign study exams. Marvell's poem was part of the syllabus and as might be expected, my friend was not making much headway. He explained the meter, and the rhyme, and Marvell's background, but all he was getting was waves of boredom. Finally, he said, "listen guys, you know what this poem is about? Its about not getting laid. The writer is complaining that his girlfriend is not giving him enough"... After that tuition programme was over one of the jocks' mother told him, "I'm really impressed by your teaching. I don't know how you've done it, but my son is really into literature and poetry now." Vikram Doctor