Meter in "To His Coy Mistress"
The meter is strikingly even throughout:
eight syllables per line consisting of four iambs, or
feet (that is, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed
syllable). It is textbook iambic tetrameter. Yet somehow
the tempo of the poem picks up notably even though the
meter remains the same. Playing as he does with the listeners
sense of time, the speaker is able to maintain a regulated
meter while intensifying the poems pace to support
- lines 1-2 - "Had we but world enough, and time,
/ This coyness, lady, were no crime."
In the first section of the poem, the speaker does not
seem as conscious of Times wingèd chariot
(22), and he spends time fancifully describing how they
would behave if there were world enough and time, as if
that were the case. Despite the even meter of these first
two lines (which is maintained throughout the poem), he
does pause in these first two lines when he
inserts commas, interrupting himself to demonstrate how
comfortable he is with the slow passage of time.
- line 41 - "Let us roll all our strength and
Although the meter of this line is the same as every other
line in the poem, it mirrors the speakers breathlessness.
It is possible for the pace of the poem to quicken even
though the meter stays the same through the absence of
punctuation and the concentration of one-syllable words.
This line also comes right after a sentence that runs
for eight straight lines without much of a pause: It is
clear that the speaker is in a hurry and almost out of