The theme of persuasion in love poetry

For many years poets have used poetry as a way to declare their love to their women. The poets in the poems we are studying use persuasive methods, they may even try to shock the women or pamper them into their way of thinking.

In class we have studied four poems, John Donne “The Flea” Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd To His Love” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road”.

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In the first stanza of “To His Coy Mistress Marvell is praising his lady, raising her up on high and adoring her beauty.

“Had we but world enough, and time,

This coyness, Lady, were no crime.”

Here he makes clear that he would wait forever and if there was enough time, he would sit down and talk and discuss her shyness. That makes the lady think he would be all loving and care for her if there was time. He just wants her to come round to his way of thinking, Marvell reassures his lady by saying that he would,

“Walk and pass our long love’s day.”

Although Marvell is trying to rush his lady into making a decision, here he is explaining that he is a gentleman and would be patient in his praise and indulgent of her whims. He also gives her a sense of loving by using alliteration, “long love’s”. He goes on to explain that he will love her,

“Till the conversion of the Jews”

As the Jews will never convert he is saying that he will love her forever. He also says that he will learn to love slowly and his love will grow bigger than empires but more slow and he will take his time as he says,

“My vegetable love should grow

Vaster that empires, and more slow”

He uses rhythm and rhyme to enhance the relaxed air of indulgence he wants to create and lull her into a ……. Mood. Becoming more con

“An hundred years should go to praise

Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;”

He then goes on to say he will spend many years adoring each body part and he says that all this attention she deserves as she is a lady and that he would not love her any less than this,

“For, Lady, you deserve this state,

Nor would I love at a lower rate”

In this stanza he becomes more quaint with the lady and explains what will happen if she does not make a decision. He tries to shock her to his thinking by telling her beauty is running out and so is time.

“But at my back I always hear

Time’s winged chariot hurrying near;

And yonder all before us lie”

He is saying that he is constantly being reminded that time is not on their side and that time has a “winged chariot” waiting for them. He looks at all that lies before them and is exaggerating the facts. In this poem he is more brutal about the truth than in others such as The Passionate Shepherd to his Love. He even goes as far to say that

“Then worms shall try

That long preserved virginity”

Then he goes on to say that when she dies the graveyard is a fine place to lie, but she will not have him still chasing after her then, this still an emphasis on the fact that time is still running out.

“The grave’s a fine and private place.

But none, I think, do there embrace”

Now he is harassing her for her virginity and is becoming rude and impatient and now he is not praising her but trying to force her to make up her mind.

In the third stanza he is summing up his argument using more toned down ways of persuasion but still telling her what he wants by saying,

“Now let us sport us while we may,

And now, like amorous birds of prey,”

Here he uses imagery to visualise their coming together, this is also a simile and with this he concludes his argument by saying now let us have sex while we can, and have loving sex like birds of prey.

In John Dunne’s “The Flea” he challenges himself to write the poem using a metaphor, which is the most unromantic thing possible, a flea. He uses straight away uses the flea size to its advantage and says,

“How little that which thou deny’st me is;”

He uses the flea as a metaphor for her virginity, he uses this to effect by saying that you are denying me such a little thing and in this he is trying to encourage her to make a decision. He explores the different meaning of words and cleverly uses the flea to get his way.

“Mark but this flea, and mark in this,”

Here he uses to different meanings of the word mark, the first meaning is to mark notice something he then uses mark as know or learn. He then uses something that is cleverly disguised as a symbol of love when really the flea is feasting on there blood.

“Me it sucked first, and now it sucks thee,

And in this flea, our two bloods mingled be;”

He then tells the woman to admit that she has not done anything wrong by saying,

“Confess it, this cannot be said

A sin, or shame, or loss of maidenhead,”

In this he means that she should admit that they have done nothing wrong and she has not lost her virginity. He then goes and says that the flea has enjoyed it self with the sucking of there blood and it has swelled up with enjoyment. He then says that this is more than we would do by saying,

“Yet this enjoys before it woo,

And pampered swells with one blood made of two,

And this, alas, is more than we would do”

In the second stanza the he again explores word meanings and here he is begging the lady to not kill the flea (there love for each other) and he explains what the flea (her virginity) means to him,

“Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,

Where we almost, nay more than married”

Here he uses the word “stay” meaning stop. He then says that they are more than a married couple because they know each other well and that her giving her virginity to him would make then more than a married couple. In her killing the flea it would be three deaths as it has Dunne’s blood the woman blood and the murder of the flea itself with killing the flea.

“Though use make thee apt to kill me,

Let not to this, self murder added be,

And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.”

He thinks that in killing the flea his main point in this argument and he thinks that if she kills the flea he will lose her, to stop her doing this he says that if she kills the flea it would not be one sin but three as the flea contains blood from both of them he also says that this would be “self murder”

In the third stanza he is mean to her and tells her she is cruel,

“Cruel and sudden, hast thou since

Purpled thy nail, in blood of innocence?”

He says that she is cruel and she has killed the flea and “purpled her nail” meaning she has got blood on her nail. He then question’s her and says “in blood of innocence?” he does this suggesting that giving up her virginity is something so innocent and why did she kill it. He then realises that his attempt to get his lady is not over since she has killed the flea,

“Yet thou triumph’st and say’st that thou

Find’st not thyself, nor me weaker now;”

He thought that his argument or attempt to get his lady evolved around the flea he now realises that his argument is none the weaker. He says that although you have triumph I am no weaker. He then goes to some up his argument saying that she will find out that fears cannot be true and she will come to him.

“‘Tis true, then learn how false, fears be;

Just so much honour, when thou yield’st to me,

Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.

He explains that fears can be false and how much honour will be wasted when she gives into him.

In Bruce Spring teens Thunder Road he is very truthful to his lady and keeps things simple and everything is in black and white. At the start the start of the poem I set outside Mary’s house. Straight away he says exactly what he wants,

“As the radio plays

Roy Orbison singing for the lonely

Hey that’s me and I want you only”

He tells her that he only wants her and he lonely, you can tell that they have had a past and that they are not strangers to each other as,

“Don’t turn me home again

I can’t face myself alone again”

You can tell this because he says that “don’t turn me home again”. He is very honest as he tells her that he can’t face being alone again.

“Darling you know what I’m here for

So your scared and you’re thinking

That maybe we ain’t that young anymore”

They have had the this conversation before as he tells her that she knows what he is here for. He knows that they are not that young and that is why he is pressing her to make a decision, and reassures her in a strange way,

“You ain’t a beauty but hey you’re all right ”

This shows that he know what he’s getting he’s reassuring he is not going to go off with someone else with her there are no hidden secret’s.

In the second stanza he tries to convince her that there is no point crying about past lovers and waiting for a hero to come from nowhere,

“Waste your summer praying in rain.

For a saviour to rise from these streets”

He is saying that if she waits for some one new she will not no what she is getting with himt hey know each other as he says,

“Well I’m no hero

That’s understood

All the redemption I can offer girl

Is beneath this dirty hood”

Here he is also being true about himself he knows he is not an ideal man but she understands that, He is being honest that there is not something that he is not telling her about all she can see is what she gets. Ten he says that there is nothing left to ,

“Except roll down the window

And let the wind blow

Back your Hair

Well the night is busting open”

He means that all she has to do is let

In “The Passionate Shepherd to his love” by Christopher Marlowe, the whole poem is flowery sweet and he talks of an ideal world. In the first stanza he wants her to live with him and be his love; he promises her all the pleasures of life.

“Come with me and be my love,

And we will all the pleasures prove”

He then goes on to say in the second stanza that they will watch the shepherds feeding there flocks and listen to the birds. He gives the impression that life was idyllic when for most of the time then was extremely hard work.

In the third, forth and fifth stanzas he tells her that he will make her posies

“a gown made of the finest wool

Which from our pretty lambs we pull.”

He tries to tempt her with,

“buckles of the purest gold”

If she is interested in what he has to offer come and be his love. He really wooing and courting her in a truly old-fashioned way. He is not mentioning marriage he just wants her to love but disguise this with the beautiful things he describes.

He finishes in the sixth stanza telling her that shepherds will dance and sing because they will be happy for them. The whole poem conjures up in the readers mind a beautiful, old fashioned and peaceful setting.

This I feel was the most effective poem and would be the one I would use to try and win my lady over. This poem describes strenuous tasks and makes them sound effort less. He managed to fool the lady into not thinking about marriage but just on loving him this is very clever as this is not as full on as “The flea” or “Thunder Road” Although that worked in its own way being honest and truthful telling the lady what she is going to get or leave it. All four poets had there own separate way of talking their lady into their way of thinking by using wit, surprise, honesty or by raising the lady on a pedal stool. Each technique worked in its own way.

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