Andrew Marvell as a Love Poet

Andrew Marvell (1621-1674), a 17th century poet, presents the idea of love in his poems very beautifully. His poems cover both the physical and the spiritual aspects of love. Now are going to discuss him as a love poet in our following discussion.

Andrew Marvell (1621-1674), a 17th century poet, presents the idea of love in his poems very beautifully. His poems cover both the physical and the spiritual aspects of love. Now are going to discuss him as a love poet in our following discussion.

          Marvell presents the physical love in his most famous poem “To His Coy Mistress” in which love has been sexualized.  In the poem the lover convinces his beloved, who is reluctant to his sexual favour on account of her coyness. So the lover, who may be the poet himself, builds up a strong argument which no sensible man can reject. The speaker uses gentle wit and thinly veiled innuendo to encourage his lover to seize the moment and act on their desires. To him human life is very much transient and within the transient moment of life the pleasure of love should be enjoyed fully. So she should grant his sexual appeal as early as possible.  As the poet says:

“Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long Love’s Day.”

Again in certain respect his love is Patrichan mode gives glowing and eloquent praises on beloved’s physical beauty. In the poem “To his coy mistress” the lover praises the beauty of his mistress eyes and limb’s in an extravagant way like a typical petrarchan lover. As poet says: 

“An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze.
Two hundred to adore each breast;
But thirty thousand to the rest.”

In the poem “The Fair Singer” the lover speaks of his beloved’s voice and eyes in hyperbolic terms. As poet says:

“That while she with her eyes my heart does bind

She with her voice might captivate my mind.”

In the poem “The Unfortunate lover” the lover, has let winds and waves sigh and shed tears.

          The poet expresses his physical love in a shocking imagery in which he making his beloved convinced that she should enjoy the present day before going to the grave. As poet says:

“… then worms shall try
That long preserv’d virginity:
And your quaint honour turn to dust;
And into ashes all my lust.”

Actually, the poet very remarkably presents the “Carpe diem” theme, “seize the opportunity” by inviting his beloved to devour the pleasure of love like amorous bird. As the poet says:

“Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am’rous birds of prey,”

Marvels love is, sometimes, passionate. In the final stanza of the poem he reaches the zenith of his passion when he suggests that he and she would roll their strength and their sweetness up into one boll and should enjoy their pleasures with youth strife though the “iron gates of life”. as the poet says:

“And tear our pleasures with rough strife,
Through the iron gates of Life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.”

Beside physical love, Andrew Marvell presents spiritual love in his poem “The Definition of Love”. In the poem the poet has spiritualized love and describes the characteristics of his love for his beloved. Here, as we see, the poets love is platonic where spiritual soul and mind dominate the theme.

          At the very beginning of this poem the poet says that his love has a rare birth and its aim is exceptionally strange and sublime. His love, as the poet says:

“My Love is of a birth as rare

    As ’tis, for object, strange and high ;

It was begotten by Despair,

    Upon Impossibility.”

          Then the poet tells the readers that, ‘Fate’ does not permit the union of two loves as it will ruin the power of Fate. Fate has placed these two lovers as far as apart from each other as the North Pole and the South Pole are from each other. As the poet remarks:

“For Fate with jealous eye does see

    Two perfect loves, nor lets them close ;

Their union would her ruin be,

    And her tyrannic power depose.”

Only oblique lines, as poet says, can meet each other in all geometrical angles. In the same way only two illicit lovers are able to meet each other. But as the poets love is like parallel lines it can never meet. As a result the poet and his beloved will never be united. As the poet says:

“As lines, so love’s oblique, may well

    Themselves in every angle greet:

But ours, so truly parallel,

    Though infinite, can never meet.”

At the end of the poem, the poet says, the love of the poet and his beloved is only a meeting of the mind but never take the form of physical union. So this love is as says the poet:

“…the conjunction of the mind,

    And opposition of the stars.”

            Last of all, we can say that the poet Andrew Marvell goes through the both aspects of love in his poems especially “To His Coy Mistress” and “The Definition of Love”. The poet, in expression of his love, is sometimes Patrician, at times Platonic sometimes passionate and occasionally very argumentative.

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