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Deviant Poems Essay, Research Paper

Peter De Vries s “To His Importunate Mistress,” written in 1986, is a parody of Andrew Marvell s “To His Coy Mistress,” written in 1681. De Vries s updated version uses the same structure and metaphors to mock the notions presented by Marvell s 17th century poem. “To His Importunate Mistress” reflects stereotypical characteristics that are associated with the 20th century such as egotistical behavior, over importance of money, lack of love and lack of shame. While “To His Coy Mistress” speaks of love and praise, which are known to be sentiments of the past.

The title of Marvell s poem hints to the situation the speaker is involved in. A coy mistress suggests a shy and demure female that is very retiring, or might also suggest a female pretending to be shy or modest. His speaker expresses his sincerity in order to seduce this coy mistress into sleeping with him.

Using the “carpe diem” approach, he proposes sex as the ultimate way of utilizing their time together. “Had we but world enough, and time we would sit down, and think which way/to walk, and pass our long love s day,” is a passage from the poem that refers to how he would praise her if he had an eternity to do so. His references to how he would take hundreds of years to praise each one of her features are ways of hinting to the female on how short life can be. He also says ” then worms shall try that long preserved virginity,” which essentially says she is better off losing her virginity to him, since worms will inevitably penetrate after death and will deny any female of being a virgin forever. Also illustrated time being of essence, he uses the metaphor of “times winged chariot” to represent death and how it will soon come to take both of them away. This metaphor contradicts the popular view of death being an awful occurrence. He sees death only as a chariot taking one on a ride to a specifically determined destination.

Although it is implied in the poem and by the use of the word coy that he fails to accomplish his goal, he does go about seducing the female passionately. His declaration of love and words of praise for eternity are thought to be concepts of the past, and lacking in our contemporary society. This notion also seems to be supported in De Vries s twentieth century poem “To His Importunate Mistress,” which shows no sentiment or passion of the speaker.

De Vries s speaker, a self centered loveless man, is a mockery of Marvell s speaker. Unlike Marvell s speaker, who is trying to seduce a coy mistress, De Vries s speaker is attending to an importunate mistress which implies an unreasonably demanding female, who is very persistent in request. De Vries s speaker is attempting to brush off his mistress, as opposed to Marvell s who is begging to be with his. The two speakers have dissimilar approaches to their dilemmas.

De Vries mentions “The hour is nigh when creditors will prove to be my predators,” which speaks of debts the speaker has consumed on expensive rendezvous with his demanding mistress. De Vries also says “Since mistress presupposes wife, It means a doubly costly life,” indicating the fact that the speaker has a wife, and his inability to adequately support two women at once is the only reason he decides to cease his rendezvous with his mistress. This speaker is an unfaithful man with no shame that decides to stop having an affair with his mistress for financial reasons, without out making any regards to his existing wife. He feels no remorse or guilt for committing adultery other than spending too much money.

In portraying his fear of debts, De Vries uses the metaphor of “time s winged chariot,” which was used to represent death in Marvell s poem. De Vries s speaker feels that the debts he has consumed are his enemies and shows no regard to sentiment. He mocks Marvell s use of the metaphor by exchanging the fear of death before love, with the fear of debts in his use of the metaphor.

Although Peter De Vries s substitution of values makes these two poems very dissimilar, the remedies for both speakers dilemmas are alike. “Had we but world enough, and time,” is the first passage to each poem. It gives the impression of both speakers begging for time in order to fulfill their desires. In one hand the speaker begs for time in order to pay off the debts he has consumed, and on the other the speaker is begging for time to praise the love of his life. Despite the differences in desires, each speaker realizes that time is the only remedy to their predicament.

The reciprocity of priorities, in the emotions of the two speakers, is a reflection of the three-year deviance the poems have. The authors have prioritized issues that represent the stereotypical behavior of their contemporary society. De Vries s parody of “To His Coy Mistress” seems to be much more than just a parody. Although he does mock at Marvell s passion, he also enlightens the masses of the alterations that have occurred in our way of life. These poems seem to be analogous to the times they where written in, where love was pertinent in the seventieth century and money has replaced it in the twentieth century.


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