Learning check

1. Vocabulary

No study aids


Student A has a list containing certain words and student B has a list of others.

Take turns explaining the words by referring to the text, so that you end up having 2 complete lists.


Student A
  1. carpe diem
  3. birds of prey
  5. vegetable love
  7. memento mori
  9. coy
  11. proposal 
  12. hyperbole 
  13. persuasive 


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Student B
  2. chariot
  4. rhyming couplet
  6. deserts of vast eternity
  8. the iron gates of life
  10. seduce
  12. metaphor 
  14. syllogism
  16. brevity


Learning check

2. Text revision: Say it!

In groups of three: The first student names a square – for example B2 – and the second student in the group has to perform the task contained in the square. After that, the second student names another square and the third student has to perform the task. Continue until all the tasks have been performed. When you are given a task, talk for at least one minute. If the student who has to perform the task needs help, he or she can ask the other students for help.






You are the coy mistress. What is your response?

You are the coy mistress.

Which part of the poem did you like best? Why?

You are the coy mistress.

Which part of the poem did you like least? Why?


You are the speaker. Characterize yourself and mention your best quality.

You are the speaker.

Describe your feelings for the coy mistress.

You are Marvell.

Why did you entitle the poem “To His Coy Mistress” and not “To My Coy Mistress”?


Quote two lines from the poem. (You are not allowed to look at the text!)

You are the structure of the poem. Talk about yourself.

You are an iamb. What do you sound like and how many of you are there in each line?



Wider contexts

1. Literary context: other work by a different author: Christopher Marlowe, “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love” p. 74

You may choose to do the following task as a written assignment.


Compare Marvell’s  “To His Coy Mistress” and Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love”, p. 74.

Focus on their differences and similarities (setting, tone, speaker, imagery and structure).


Wider contexts

2. Literary Context: other work by a different author: Robert Herrick, “To the Virgins to Make Much of Time” (text, glossary and questions)

Robert Herrick (1591-1674) Studied at Cambridge University and spent some years in London. He was ordained as a priest in 1623 and in 1629 he became the rector of Dean Prior in Devonshire. Because of the Civil War (1642-52) he was ejected from his position as rector and did not return to his position until after the Restoration in 1660. “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” was first published in 1648.


You may choose to do the following task as a written assignment.



a) Compare Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” and Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”.

You may want to focus on tone, imagery and message.



To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Gather ye Rose-buds while ye may,                                                  

Old Time is still a-flying;                                                                 

And this same flower that smiles today

Tomorrow will be dying.



The glorious Lamp of Heaven, the Sun,

The higher he’s a-getting,

The sooner will his Race be run,

And nearer he’s to setting.



That Age is best which is the first,

When Youth and Blood are warmer;

But being spent, the worse, and worst

Times, still succeed the former.                                                        



Then be not coy, but use your time;                                              

And while ye may, go marry:                                                          

For having lost but once your prime,                                           

You may for ever tarry.                



ye your

bud knop

succeed følge efter

coy modvillig, bly, koket

marry get married

prime ungdom

tarry vente



Comprehension, analysis and interpretation

  1. Stanza 1: What are the virgins told to do and why?

  2. Stanza 1: What is gathering rosebuds a metaphor for?

  3. Stanza 1: What is the effect of the personification of the flower?

  4. Stanza 1: What is the analogy between the virgins and the flowers?

  5. Stanza 1. “Old Time”: Does the writer want to terrify the virgins? Think of Marvell’s “Time’s wingèd 
      chariot hurrying near”.

  6. Stanza 2: What is the sun a symbol of?

  7. Stanza 2: What is the effect of the word “race” ? The writer could have used the word “course”.

  8. What does the course of the day symbolize?

  9. Stanza 3: What are the “worse and worst” times? Why?

10. Find the three imperatives in the poem. What are the virgins told to do?

11. Stanza 4: Does the writer encourage the virgins to seek immediate gratification of their desires?

12. Stanza 4: Do the virgins get the advice you expected?

13. Who is the speaker?

14. What is the tone of the poem?

15. Which lines of the poem do you think best summarize the carpe diem theme?

16. In what way is the message of the poem different from a traditional carpe diem poem?

17. Why do you think this poem has become very popular?

18. How may a present-day feminist react to the poem?


Wider contexts

3. Literary Context: other work by a different author: Roger McGough, “At Lunchtime” p. 81

You may choose to compare “To His Coy Mistress” with a modern poem, McGough’s “At Lunchtime”, p. 81.


What are the similarities and what are the differences?


Wider contexts

4. Other works of art: media: the film "Dead Poets Society"

In what sense is the "carpe diem" theme relevant in the film Dead Poets Society?