Overheard in the
'Coy Mistress'

I think I need another gin -
Your chat-up lines are wearing thin.
In fact, you seem less hot than - coy.
I start to feel you're just a boy.

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime.

Good Sir, I think you may confuse
A grim offence with simple ruse.

We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love's day.

To you it may seem long. To me
It's rather short.

At half-past three
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would -

You would, you say?

Indeed I would
Love you ten years before the Flood
And you should, if you please, refuse -

But why on earth should I refuse?

Till the conversion of the Jews.


What's wrong with Jews? Why not?

You talk about the Jews a lot.

Well Buddhists then, if you prefer.

Oh just get to the point, good Sir.

My vegetable love should grow -

Vegetable? Do you mean
That bedroom-wise you're somewhat
green -
No vast experience then?

But no!
Vaster than empires and more slow -

Aha! You'll make a woman wait;
Your vegetable may '

An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;

On about my eyes again.
What about my knees? It's plain
You really think I haven't guessed
You're just about to bring in 'breast'.

Two hundred to adore each breast -
But thirty thousand to the rest...

Men are obsessed with cars and numbers.

Who, me?

Yes, you. You mentioned Humbers.

Lady - you are indeed most sage -
The most discerning of your age -
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.

Heart? You think you're getting that?
I'd call the chance of that - well - fat.

For Lady, you deserve this state -

What - fat?

No, Madam - more like Fate.
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near -

That reminds me. I should get
A taxi ordered.

Oh, not yet!
Yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.

I'm thirsty just to think of it.
But Sir - you overstate a bit.
What about another drink?
My call.

No, no! Tis sad to think
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault -

The sound
Of marble isn't really bound
To woo. Let's go for 'alabaster'
(Which incidentally rhymes with 'faster')
Come on! What use is being profound
Unless you kiss me?

'Kiss' shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity -

Virginity? Oh please. How arid!
I only said I wasn't married.
And as for being tried by worms -
Well - nothing doing on those terms.

And your quaint -

'Quaint?' I really must
Take exception. Quaint is just -
- just too much. I sense the taint
Of Laura Ashley or a Saint
Or Maid of -

- honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust -

Ashes? Do you plan erupting?

Yes, if you keep interrupting.
The grave's a fine and private place -
But none, I think, do there embrace

My point exactly. Let us trace
Unerring logic. My informer
Says you'd like somewhere much warmer.

Now, therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew -

Like dew?

What's wrong with dew?

Well, dew
Sounds like a filthy dose of flu.
I'm not so sure I'd like the hue
Of me imbued with 'morning dew'.

And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires -

Wait, wait!

What now?

Well, dew and fire
Do not mix well.

But with desire?
Now let us sport us -

"Let us sport us"?
You have the passion of a tortoise!

Now let us sport us while we may -
And now -

You said 'now' twice. Make hay
While sun permits. But in what way?

I thought - like amorous birds of prey.

Look here - no fetishes or freaks -
Kisses, not pecks. Hugs, not beaks.
Certain things I won't allow.
And be consistent - 'you' or 'thou?

Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapt power


Yes. I thought it apt
To think of time as slow.

But 'chapt'?

Let us roll -

a joint? Agreed.
I need the solace of the weed.

No, let's roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball -

It's funny that you're drinking Becks.
It rhymes, you know, with sex.



Dear Lady, do not coolly utter
Parlance fitter for the gutter.
God wot we are the better for
A subtly-managed metaphor.
Let's tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun -

Whose son?

The sun, my love. Not son.

Does that mean that you haven't one?
Not what I heard. In fact, I thought
You'd two or three. I think I ought
To call that taxi. Talk's sublime
But still - it's nearly pumpkin time.
A good-night kiss?

Stand still.

Stand still?
You mean - well yes - of course I will.
I've fancied you for ages, pet.
I bet you noticed.

No, not yet.

I thought you had. For goodness sake
Get on.

Ahem. Right - We will make
Our conversation last and last
Until this glorious night is past
And -

No, good Sir. There's little joy
In speechifying from the coy.
Look here - I have a certain friend.
He's not that confident. Pretend
That you were me. What would you do
If all he did was talk to you
While you (that's me), were burning just
To get a spot of naked lust?
He's wilted somewhere near the stalk.
He talks the talk, won't walk the walk.
He's frankly - a pedestrian
While you -

Well can't you make him run?


Helena Nelson and Andrew Marvell

If you've any comments on this poem, Helena Nelson would be pleased to hear from you.

You can find out more about Andrew Marvell here.

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