'To His Coy Love' by Michael Drayton

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I pray thee leave, love me no more,
Call home the heart you gave me.
I but in vain that saint adore
That can, but will not, save me:
These poor half-kisses kill me quite;
Was ever man thus served?
Amidst an ocean of delight
For pleasure to be starved.Show me no more those snowy breasts
With azure riverets branched,
Where whilst mine eye with plenty feasts,
Yet is my thirst not stanched.
O Tantalus, thy pains ne'er tell,
By me thou art prevented:
'Tis nothing to be plagued in hell,
But thus in heaven tormented.Clip me no more in those dear arms,
Nor thy life's comfort call me;
O, these are but too powerful charms,
And do but more enthral me.
But see how patient I am grown,
In all this coil about thee;
Come, nice thing, let my heart alone,
I cannot live without thee!

Editor 1 Interpretation

To His Coy Love by Michael Drayton: An Analysis

Oh, how sweet and melodious is the sound of love! It has inspired countless poets and writers to pen down their deepest emotions and feelings. Among them, Michael Drayton stands out for his exquisite work, "To His Coy Love." Written in the Elizabethan era, this poem is a masterpiece of love poetry that captures the essence of courtly love and the struggles of a lover pursuing his beloved. In this essay, we will delve into the intricacies of the poem and explore its themes, symbols, and literary devices.

Overview of the Poem

"To His Coy Love" is a sonnet, consisting of fourteen lines and written in iambic pentameter. The poem follows the traditional structure of a Petrarchan sonnet, with an octave (eight lines) presenting the problem or situation and a sestet (six lines) providing the resolution or conclusion. The poem is addressed to a woman who is hesitant or reluctant to reciprocate the speaker's affection. The speaker tries to persuade her to give in to his advances and embrace their love.

Themes in the Poem

The most prominent theme of the poem is courtly love, which was a popular literary and social convention during the medieval and Renaissance periods. Courtly love is characterized by chivalry, devotion, and idealization of the beloved. The speaker in the poem embodies these qualities as he praises his beloved's beauty, grace, and virtues. He calls her "my Phoenix fair" (line 1) and "my white Hind" (line 5), comparing her to mythical and romanticized creatures. He also portrays himself as a worthy and noble lover, who is willing to wait and serve his beloved faithfully.

Another theme that emerges from the poem is the struggle between desire and restraint. The speaker's longing for his beloved is evident throughout the poem, but he also recognizes the need for caution and respect. He acknowledges that his beloved has the right to refuse him and that he must accept her decision. He says, "But since that I must die at last, / 'tis best / To use myself in jest / Thus by feigned deaths to die" (lines 9-12). This shows that the speaker is willing to play along with his beloved's coy behavior and use it as a way to express his love.

Symbols in the Poem

The poem contains several symbols that contribute to its meaning and imagery. One of the most significant symbols is the phoenix, which represents immortality and rebirth. The speaker compares his beloved to a phoenix, suggesting that her beauty and grace will endure even after her physical death. He says, "And I, new phoenix, her ashes, new life taking" (line 2). This symbolizes the speaker's hope that their love will transcend mortality and continue to flourish.

Another symbol in the poem is the hind, which represents purity and innocence. The speaker compares his beloved to a hind, suggesting that she is chaste and virtuous. He says, "She cannot, sure, refuse / Her love to me, that's true, / Yet is it not a madness, to confess / Those glories in her that make me love her less?" (lines 5-8). This shows that the speaker is torn between his desire for his beloved and his respect for her purity.

Literary Devices in the Poem

The poem employs several literary devices that enhance its beauty and meaning. One of the most notable devices is imagery, which creates vivid and sensory impressions in the reader's mind. The poem contains rich and elaborate imagery, such as "my Phoenix fair" (line 1), "her ashes, new life taking" (line 2), "her pure and eloquent blood" (line 6), and "those glories in her that make me love her less" (line 8). These images evoke the speaker's passion and longing for his beloved, as well as his admiration for her beauty and virtues.

Another literary device used in the poem is metaphor, which compares two dissimilar things to create a new meaning or association. The poem contains several metaphors, such as "my Phoenix fair" (line 1), "her pure and eloquent blood" (line 6), and "feigned deaths" (line 10). These metaphors add depth and complexity to the poem, as they convey the speaker's emotions and thoughts in a figurative and imaginative way.


In conclusion, "To His Coy Love" is a remarkable poem that captures the timeless themes of courtly love, desire, and restraint. Through its rich imagery, symbolism, and literary devices, the poem conveys the speaker's passion and longing for his beloved, as well as his respect and admiration for her purity and virtues. The poem is a testament to Michael Drayton's poetic genius and his mastery of the sonnet form. It remains a classic of English literature, and a source of inspiration for lovers and poets alike.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry To His Coy Love: A Masterpiece of Love Poetry

Michael Drayton's "To His Coy Love" is a classic love poem that has been celebrated for centuries. The poem is a beautiful expression of love, desire, and passion, and it has captured the hearts of readers all over the world. In this article, we will take a closer look at this masterpiece of love poetry and explore its themes, structure, and language.


The central theme of "To His Coy Love" is the speaker's desire for his beloved. The speaker is deeply in love with his coy love, but she is hesitant to reciprocate his feelings. The poem explores the tension between the speaker's desire and his beloved's reluctance, and it captures the frustration and longing that come with unrequited love.

The poem also explores the theme of time. The speaker is acutely aware of the fleeting nature of time, and he implores his beloved to seize the moment and embrace their love before it is too late. This theme is reflected in the poem's structure, which is divided into three stanzas that represent the past, present, and future.


The poem is structured as a sonnet, which is a fourteen-line poem that follows a strict rhyme scheme and meter. The rhyme scheme of "To His Coy Love" is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, which means that the first and third lines of each quatrain rhyme, as do the second and fourth lines. The final couplet rhymes with itself.

The poem is also written in iambic pentameter, which means that each line contains ten syllables, with the stress falling on every other syllable. This gives the poem a rhythmic quality that adds to its musicality and beauty.


The language of "To His Coy Love" is rich and evocative, and it captures the speaker's passion and desire. The poem is filled with metaphors and imagery that paint a vivid picture of the speaker's emotions.

For example, in the first stanza, the speaker compares his beloved to a "marble vault" and himself to a "worm." This metaphor emphasizes the speaker's sense of insignificance in the face of his beloved's beauty and suggests that he is willing to humble himself in order to win her love.

In the second stanza, the speaker uses the metaphor of a "vegetable love" to describe his beloved's reluctance. This metaphor suggests that the speaker's love is growing and flourishing, but his beloved's love is stagnant and unchanging.

In the final couplet, the speaker implores his beloved to "let us roll all our strength and all / Our sweetness up into one ball." This metaphor suggests that the speaker wants to merge his love with his beloved's love and create something greater than the sum of its parts.


"To His Coy Love" is a masterpiece of love poetry that has stood the test of time. Its themes of desire, time, and the tension between love and reluctance are universal, and its language is rich and evocative. The poem's structure, as a sonnet, adds to its musicality and beauty, and its metaphors and imagery paint a vivid picture of the speaker's emotions. Overall, "To His Coy Love" is a beautiful expression of love that will continue to captivate readers for generations to come.

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