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
Shouldst 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 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;
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 always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty 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-chapped power.
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.
Andrew Marvell is the speaker in this poem. The poem itself is a self-spoken flood of emotion for a young woman.
Marvell writes this poem to a girl because he feels they should embrace an amazing love while they are young. He repeats his eternal love for her until "the conversion of the Jews" (L10), an event that is supposed to come before the end of our world. Another example in line 44 is how Marvell says "Thorough the iron gates of life", meaning he would wish to go on in life with her by his side.
Line 22 starts some vivid symbolism and imagery. Marvell's "time's winged chariot hurrying near" can symbolize the Greek god Apollo, who carried the sun across the sky. When Marvell talks both physically and literally about the chariot quickly approaching, you can feel a sort of countdown or closing. If you consider the referance to Apollo, you may get a "sunset effect." In other words, you can feel time (symbolized as the sun) running out, or counting down as in a definite demise you cannot prevent.
Marvell continues with his dramatic lines when he talks about the end of both their lives and time with "your quaint honor turned to dust... into ashes all my lust... the grave's a fine and private place" (L29-31). Death, dust and ash, and also the grave visually is a grim and somber thought. This is a very useful effect Marvell uses because it helps to stress the need of he and the maiden to unite as one while they are still youthful.