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His Coy Mistress to Mr. Marvell -- A D Hope

Guest poem sent in by William Grey
(Poem #1567) His Coy Mistress to Mr. Marvell
 Since you have world enough and time
 Sir, to admonish me in rhyme,
 Pray Mr Marvell, can it be
 You think to have persuaded me?
 Then let me say: you want the art
 To woo, much less to win my heart.
 The verse was splendid, all admit,
 And, sir, you have a pretty wit.
 All that indeed your poem lacked
 Was logic, modesty, and tact,
 Slight faults and ones to which I own,
 Your sex is generally prone;
 But though you lose your labour, I
 Shall not refuse you a reply:

 First, for the language you employ:
 A term I deprecate is "coy";
 The ill-bred miss, the bird-brained Jill,
 May simper and be coy at will;
 A lady, sir, as you will find,
 Keeps counsel, or she speaks her mind,
 Means what she says and scorns to fence
 And palter with feigned innocence.

 The ambiguous "mistress" next you set
 Beside this graceless epithet.
 "Coy mistress", sir? Who gave you leave
 To wear my heart upon your sleeve?
 Or to imply, as sure you do,
 I had no other choice than you
 And must remain upon the shelf
 Unless I should bestir myself?
 Shall I be moved to love you, pray,
 By hints that I must soon decay?
 No woman's won by being told
 How quickly she is growing old;
 Nor will such ploys, when all is said,
 Serve to stampede us into bed.

 When from pure blackmail, next you move
 To bribe or lure me into love,
 No less inept, my rhyming friend,
 Snared by the means, you miss your end.
 "Times winged chariot", and the rest
 As poetry may pass the test;
 Readers will quote those lines, I trust,
 Till you and I and they are dust;
 But I, your destined prey, must look
 Less at the bait than at the hook,
 Nor, when I do, can fail to see
 Just what it is you offer me:
 Love on the run, a rough embrace
 Snatched in the fury of the chase,
 The grave before us and the wheels
 Of Time's grim chariot at our heels,
 While we, like "am'rous birds of prey",
 Tear at each other by the way.

 To say the least, the scene you paint
 Is, what you call my honour, quaint!
 And on this point what prompted you
 So crudely, and in public too,
 To canvass and , indeed, make free
 With my entire anatomy?
 Poets have licence, I confess,
 To speak of ladies in undress;
 Thighs, hearts, brows, breasts are well enough,
 In verses this is common stuff;
 But -- well I ask: to draw attention
 To worms in -- what I blush to mention,
 And prate of dust upon it too!
 Sir, was this any way to woo?

 Now therefore, while male self-regard
 Sits on your cheek, my hopeful bard,
 May I suggest, before we part,
 The best way to a woman's heart
 Is to be modest, candid, true;
 Tell her you love and show you do;
 Neither cajole nor condescend
 And base the lover on the friend;
 Don't bustle her or fuss or snatch:
 A suitor looking at his watch
 Is not a posture that persuades
 Willing, much less reluctant maids.

 Remember that she will be stirred
 More by the spirit than the word;
 For truth and tenderness do more
 Than coruscating metaphor.
 Had you addressed me in such terms
 And prattled less of graves and worms,
 I might, who knows, have warmed to you;
 But, as things stand, must bid adieu
 (Though I am grateful for the rhyme)
 And wish you better luck next time.
-- A D Hope

An effective rejoinder to a great poem requires a poet of greatness, and one
who appreciates and respects the genius under attack. No poet was able to do
this more effectively than Australian poet A.D. Hope (1907-2000). In his
introduction to this rejoinder Hope commented:

  This most famous of all Marvell's poems is deservedly so. Yet it is a
  brilliant tour de force in which the poet's imaginative language triumphs
  over the fact that his arguments to the lady are a set of worn-out clich├ęs,
  which were never very persuasive even when they were new -- but the lady can
  best speak for herself.

Marvell's most famous poem was an early contribution to Wondering Minstrels
(Poem #158). 'His Coy Mistress to Mr Marvell' was published in Hope's Book of
Answers (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1978), which includes a number of gems --
though none more brilliant than this Marvell parody. (It includes a fine parody
of Gerard Manley "Hop-skip-jump-kins" -- which I may submit at some future
time.) The power of Hope's language, and the range of genres which he
commanded, were immense. He is a poet of considerable stature not just within
Australia, but globally.


46 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Alan Kornheiser said...

I'm sure I recall a contemporary reply to the poem, something about "if
shepherds could be trusted." Ring any bells?


Anustup Datta said...


Great poem. It is number 1568 though, not 1567 - so you may want to update
the link.


John K. Taber said...

I like Hope's sensitivity to women, to those forced to shut up and say
"yes dear", to scarcely ever be able to express one's thoughts, of all
those, men or women who "have to knuckle down."

Here is another, drawn from his classical education. A. U. C.
means ab urbe condita, "from the founding of the city" in our
terms 753 BC. Note the bitter humor of burying the convicted
alive after a "fair trial". A fair trial for liveliness?

John K. Taber

Advice to Young Ladies
Alec Derwent Hope

A.U.C. 334: about this date,
For a sexual misdemeanour which she denied,
The vestal virgin Postumia was tried;
Livy records it among affairs of state.

They let her off: it seems she was perfectly pure;
The charge arose because some thought her talk
Too witty for a young girl, her eyes, her walk
Too lively, her clothes too smart to be demure.

The Pontifex Maximus , summing up the case,
Warned her in future to abstain from jokes,
To wear less modish and more pious frocks.
She left the court reprieved, but in disgrace.

What then? With her the annalist is less
Concerned than what the men achieved that year:
Plots, quarrels, crimes, with oratory to spare-
I see Postumia with her dowdy dress,

Stiff mouth and listless step; I see her strive
To give dull answers. She had to knuckle down.
A vestal virgin who scandalized that town
Had fair trial, then they buried her alive;

Alive, bricked up in suffocating dark;
A ration of bread, a pitcher if she was dry,
Preserved the body they did not wish to die
Until her mind was quenched to the last spark.

How many the black maw has swallowed in its time!
Spirited girls who would not know their place,
Talented girls who found that the disgrace
Of being a woman made genius a crime.

How many others, who would not kiss the rod,
Domestic bullying broke or public shame?
Pagan or Christian, it was much the same:
Husbands, St. Paul declared, rank next to God.

Livy and Paul, it may be, never knew
That Rome was doomed; each spoke of her with pride.
Tacitus, writing after both had died,
Showed that whole fabric rotten, through and through.

Historians spend their lives and lavish ink
Explaining how great commonwealths collapse
From great defects of policy - perhaps
The cause is sometimes simpler than they think. 40

It may not seem so grave an act to break
Postumia's spirit as Galileo's, to gag
Hypatia as crush Socrates, or drag
Joan as Giordano Bruno to the stake.

Can we be sure? Have more states perished, then,
For having shackled the enquiring mind,
Than those who, in their folly not less blind,
Trusted the servile womb to breed free men?

JeanMcK9 said...

Very good and very correct. Certainly written from a feminist gentlewomans'
perspective. Gently chiding Marvel for his ignorance of women.

Marvels poem was published after his death. I wonder if he had any success
with women!

Cheers Gerry

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Anonymous said...

Tries too hard. Hope is no Marvell. The conceit became old very quickly.

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Hi, I'm an ex colleague of the extremely stinky criminal Daniel "Danny" Hegglin ex Morgan Stanley and today i really would like "to empty the bag". My name is Massimo, i'm from Turin ( where admirable doctor Sergio Marchionne makes business...better say, made business.. all best people out of nazimafiosa mega corrupted dictatorship of "Renzusconia": that's too good and right), I'n not english native, so, i'm not mother language as you will well see. But i'll try to write in my best possible english ( in more or less just an hour i have at disposal, to do it). I worked for many years in London, with the killing Hooligans of worldwide stock exchanges: Morgan Stanley ( Elbow to elbow with this absolute Jack the Ripper of international finance who is this really stinky shameless criminal bastard Daniel "Danny" Hegglin, now working by an immense Mafia Money Launderer Box called 4th dimension in Hong Kong ( this very lousy crook of Daniel "Danny" Hegglin changes his name on the net from Dan to Danny to Daniel, continuously: typical of those who have lot of stinky things to hide, typical move of delinquent, typical move of "dark gray"collars, i wd say, more than white ones)! I saw with my eyes, i repeat, i saw with my eyes, this bastard mega corrupted, better to say, corru-p-ig and also corru-piig, Daniel Hegglin ex Morgan Stanley, getting 100.000, 200.000, 300.000 pounds, cash, put in handbgas. Inside various pubs close to his ex offices in Canary Wharf.
" Nazifascist and pro Mafia Morgan Stanley & Co 25 Cabot Square, Canary Wharf London"
Cause of immense insider dealings and sometimes even insider tradings he passed to colossal Cosa Nostra's money launderers like Ennio Doris and Massimo Doris from Banca 'Mafiolanum, Camorranum, Ndrangolanum, Nazistanum, Mediolanum' ( not for nothing, bank, "in fact", totally owned by disgusting pedophile and nazimalavitoso dictator Silvio Berlusconi.. and so... bank controlled by Cosa Nostra; choleraic rats Silvio Berlusconi, Marina Berlusconi, Ennio Doris, Massimo Doris and Mafia are same assassin shit since the 60's; since much more than half century; since verminous criminal Berlusconi's father, Luigi Berlusconi, used to wash oceans of killing Cosa Nostra's money in Banca Rasini; 'coincidentally' closed down by American Dea, cause was the bank of the most murderous gangs of half world, and not just sicilian world

Anonymous said...

Same cash and for same reasons, he used to get from another bastard super delinquent, close to lot of Mafia and NaziRacist international organizations: Paolo Barrai. Having an extremely fascist, mafia money laundering ( via Finter Bank Lugano, via Panama, via Dubai, via Marbella, via bitcoins) and inciting murdering violence blog called Mercato 'Merdato' Libero (bastard criminal excrement Paolo Barrai having already been condemned to big fines or jail, many times; by Consob; by Court in Milan; it looks like, also by Court in Biella; and incredibly by Court in Porto Seguro, Brazil; where they want him now for many years in prison.. for this reason, Hitlerian "jailbird" Paolo Barrai sometimes write of Brazil.. but never put a feet in Brazil anymore).

Again and again and again: Same cash and for same reasons, he used to get from another well known corruptor, stinking Al Capone of Italian Bourse: Attilio Ventura, not for nothing, now in 'Mafiaset Hitlerset Mediaset' board And used to get other very criminal money from corruptor Francesco Perilli now heading Equita Sim Milan. And from 100s and 100s of other brokers all over Europe. Basically, if "Mussolinian Hooligans" from Morgan Stanley (like another bastard criminal: Michael Chinnick, now laundering lot of mafia assassin cash by Mandarin Capital Hong Kong: had to buy, for example, lot of Fiat, in Milan, "Jack the Ripper", loathsome worm Daniel Hegglin ex Morgan Stanley used to call "with his private mobile phone another private mobile phone" ( to circumvent the recording of calls, obviously). Belonging to one of noisome maggots above mentioned. And used to say

'Ehy you my big Mafia Banker Ennio Doris.... you know, when you come next week to London.. can you take me that Armani's tie i love so much with code n3124'?
Obviously, the translation of this sort of "full of swastika" secret language given in the pub was 'n' = buy, '3124' = Fiat ( "Jack the ripper', extremely rotten felon Daniel Hegglin 4th Dimension Hong Kong used to give to all his corrupting larvas s a list with all the european stocks, with close to any of them, a number: 3124, obviously was for Fiat). Cholaeric escrement Ennio Doris used to answer on the phone "yes Danny, certainly, thank you, actually, thank you". Then started to buy 1.000.000 Fiat for himself ( from his swiss bank account, in very criminal Arner Bank Lugano: pls google "vado riciclo e torno" that means "i go, i wash lot of killing mafia cash and i'll be back", bout mega mafia money launderings done by Ennio Doris and Massimo Doris from Banca Mediolanum Then, "Hooligan"of Finance ( Morgan Stanley, used to arrive via "Jack the Ripper" bastard criminal Daniel Hegglin to buy 15.000.000s of Fiat in just one day. And immense gains to be shared 50 50 were made! Is also a bastard racist, part of many worldwide Ku Kluk Klan, repellent nazist Daniel Hegglin. Is also an extremely pervert paederast. He said many times, to me and many people "there is nothing wrong on fucking a boy or a girl who is 12 years old, i do it, i do it, i do it and even often... on the other hand... in the second or third world it happens every day... young female children.. there .. get pregnant at 12.. so i fuck lot of boys and girls, while they are 12... here in London.. or in my native Switzerland.. i pay and i do it".

Anonymous said...

As mentioned, is also a repulsive nazifascist ( he organized the Edward Snowden's hideout in Hong Kong, where he now launders immensely killing Triade Cash out of a very delinquent Box called "4th dimension"; and used to organize lot and lot of international murders made via various extreme right worldwide public and private intelligence agencies.. google 'daniel hegglin wikileaks' bout it, pls: In his houses there were ( and still are, cowardly hided, but still are) hundreds of gadgets, books, videos full of love for Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Augusto Pinochet, Francisco Franco, Alfredo Stroessner. But also very full of passion and love toward many nazifascist mega killing terrorists like The Skinhead International, Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, Alan Berg, Combat 18, Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari, Order of Flemish Militants, Ordine Nuovo, White Order of Thule. This is the bastard extreme criminal Daniel "Danny Hegglin", not for nothing, fired by Morgan Stanley, fired by TT International, fired by Puricore and many other working places. And if Google will put the head down to him, will be the end of internet, will begin an era of bastard killing nazism all over the world, "ops, what a coincidence", what very fascist Vladimir Putin, Morgan Stanley, Jp Morgan ( who used to finance who killed 6 millions people: Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini... never forget, please), as well as Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, Alan Berg, Combat 18, Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari, Order of Flemish Militants, Ordine Nuovo, White Order of Thule exactly want! Massimo. For many years Morgan Stanley London. What i wrote is what i saw and with my own eyes. For many many many years! ModerNazifascist part of Cia, on order of ModerNazifascist and Pro Mafia: James Gorman and Eric Grossman from Morgan Stanley New York, will kill me now??? Better to die as a martyr, meant as a real man ( not certainly meant as other terrorists, like the islamic ones, mean). Who call things with the exact their name! So that the good may have more chances to win the evil. Better to die as a martyr, meant as a real man, than being falsely alive as a passive, amorphous, scared man made diarrea. Massimo a death man walking, now, BUT A REAL (death) MAN (walking).

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