‘To His Coy Mistress’

His Coy Mistress

Worksheet Questions

and critical guidance

(Analysis of Language, Structure and Form)


  1. What do you think the poet means by the word ‘coy’?
  2. The poem is written in the form of a syllogism where two reasons lead to a conclusion.  Here,. there is a thesis (an original idea), an antithesis (an opposing idea) and synthesis (a solution).  What are these in this poem?
  3.  Hyperbole is a literary term for exaggeration.  What examples of hyperbole can you find in the `first stanza?  What is their purpose?
  4.  From the first two lines of the second stanza, find two literary features that have been used and comment on how they help the poet to convey his meaning.
  5. Comment on the use of the word ‘deserts’
  6. An oxymoron is a contradiction in terms.  Discuss whether you you think ‘quaint honour’ is an oxymoron?
  7. Comment on the poet’s tone/attitude in the last two lines of the second stanza.
  8. Why is the simile ‘like morning dew’ so apt (appropriate)?
  9. Consider, in detail, the metaphorical language used in the first four lines of the last stanza.  What is the poet saying about his ‘mistress’?
  10. The poem is notable for its birds of prey imagery.  What is the purpose of this?
  11. Look at the metaphorical language in the last three lines.  Why might life be described as having iron gates?  What does the personification of the sun add to the poet’s meaning?
  12. Zeus ordered the sun to stand still to prolong his night with his mortal lover, Alcamena.  What is the poet’s tone when he refers to this?
  13. Carpe diem means seize the day.  Why do you think ‘To His Coy Mistress’ is referred to as a carpe diem poem?

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