Metaphor in "To His Coy Mistress"
There is more than one metaphor
in To His Coy Mistress, but the poem is built
around a central metaphor, Times wingèd chariot,
which is both central to the speakers argument and
near the physical center of the poem. The encroachment
of time is vastly important to his argument, and its nuances
can only be expressed through a metaphor.
- line 11 - "My vegetable love"
The speaker compares his love to vegetative growth, which
is slow and unconscious. Of course, this metaphor is ironic
because it is in the conditional tense; the speaker knows
that he does not have world enough or time, and his impassioned
love grows quickly and consciously.
- line 22 - "Time's wingèd chariot"
A winged chariot is unrealchariots are ground transportationand
it is also a link to Roman mythology: Apollos flying
chariot drove the sun. The winged chariot is a metaphor
for the power of time, for the speed of time (a winged
chariot could presumably move quickly), and for the inevitability
of time (the sun rises and sets regularly every day).
The metaphor expands and enhances the cliché time
flies and sets the darker tone of the second section
of the speakers argument.
- lines 35-36 - "soul transpires / At every pore
with instant fires"
The lovers soul breathes through her body with instant
fires, obviously not intended as literal flames
on her skin, but rather to demonstrate how the feeling
of ardent desire is like heat. The fact that there are
many fires instead of just one, and that they are instant
rather than constant, underscores the transience of the
moment, which is the subject of the poem.