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The Definition Of Love Analysis



Author: poem of Andrew Marvell Type: poem Views: 12


My love is of a birth as rare
As 'tis for object strange and high:
It was begotten by Despair
Upon Impossibility.

Magnanimous Despair alone
Could show me so divine a thing,
Where feeble Hope could ne'er have flown
But vainly flapped its tinsel wing.

And yet I quickly might arrive
Where my extended soul is fixed
But Fate does iron wedges drive,
And always crowds itself betwixt.

For Fate with jealous eye does see
Two perfect loves, nor lets them close:
Their union would her ruin be,
And her tyrranic power depose.

And therefore her decrees of steel
Us as the distant Poles have placed
(Though Love's whole world on us doth wheel)
Not by themselves to be embraced,

Unless the giddy heaven fall,
And earth some new convulsion tear;
And, us to join, the world should all
Be cramped into a planisphere.

As lines (so loves) oblique may well
Themselves in every angle greet:
But ours so truly parallel,
Though infinite, can never meet.

Therefore the love which us doth bind,
But Fate so enviously debars,
Is the conjunction of the mind,
And opposition of the stars.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||




.: :.

I wonder if perhaps Marvell is adopting a slight tone of irony?
To refer to despair as 'Magnanimous', in 'show[ing] me so divine a thing', despite the fact that to this within range of this thing 'feeble hope could ne'er have flown' is surely disingenuous, I would suggest in an intentionally ironic way.
If we then consider Marvell's 'conclusion', that love is 'the conjunction of the mind,/ And opposition of the stars', perhaps this gathers greater weight? Clearly the intention of any Philosophical explanation is exposure, and this is borne out by the structure/lexis of the poem 'And', 'For', 'Therefore', as stanza starters. Thus, Marvell's ambiguous, and totally useless, definition seems to contradict the general structure and purpose of such a logical exposition.
Perhaps, then, we could also detect irony in Marvell's portrayal of love between those who 'can never meet' as 'infinite' in contrast to that of those who, 'in every angle greet'. To some extent it seems strange to suggest that a love which never comes to fruition in the physical sense is 'infinite'. Moreso if the suggestion is that the two would never even become aware of each other. However, I'm sceptical of the validity of this analysis, for it's true that the penultimate stanza concurs with neo-platonic Philosophy, and this could quite likely have been Marvell's aim.

| Posted on 2014-10-08 | by a guest


.: :.

The title in itself, highlighted by the apostrophes, supports the metaphysical subject of the poem. The capitalisation of \'Definition\' puts emphasis on Marvell\'s attempt to categorise love. The traditional rhyme scheme, ABAB, coupled with the continuous 8 syllable lines throughout all 8 stanza\'s creates a fixed form to the poem, which could suggest Marvell trying to put a logical concept on the subject of love. It could also represent that love is restrained, relating to his metaphysical \'Poles\' imagery; that like logic, fate is unbeatable (portrayed in his imagery used to personify the concept as being made of \'iron\' and \'steel\'.

| Posted on 2013-05-04 | by a guest


.: :.

The title \"Definition of Love\" means he is trying to apply logic to an unlogicall concept: Love. This is rather typical of a metaphysical poet.
It\'s quite significant that there is no mention of the subject of his love, but more the feeling of love itself, its limitations and the concept itelf.
Marvell personifies both Hope and Fate, Hope is portrayed as beautiful (\'tinsel wing\') yet feeble. Fate is portrated as \'jealous\' and \'tyrannic\'. However this tyranny prevails, and fate \'crowds itself betwixt\', preventing them from ever living as lovers. If they had defied fate, their love would have been so perfect they would have ruined fate.
The conceits used in this poem are also typical of a metaphysical poem. The first is of the two \'poles\', evoking images of two separate poles in the world. Here he applies a geographical distance between him and his lover to communicate the consequences of fate between them. Perhaps circumstance or differences of status.
The structure used is also very interesting, in each stanza is a contained sentence. It puts forward an argument. The idea of Marvell doing this is also reinforced by words that one may see in an argument, like \"therefore\"

| Posted on 2011-03-26 | by a guest


.: :.

I wonder whether his love was homosexual. That would explain a lot. I doubt whether the gap between Fairfax and Marvell was insuperable. After all John Donne had More (and who was higher in England than her and who lower than a curate?
Anthony Camacho

| Posted on 2009-11-12 | by a guest


.: :.

(Though Love's whole world on us doth wheel)
Just a note that Love is sometimes capitalised see above also that in other copies of this poem all the loves are capitalised i.e. at x and x while other sites do not. This may be a transcription era, though it is difficult to tell which version is correct. Also Fate is not technically an emotion, it is more an abstract concept.
Also from my reading of this poem, I felt Marvell was possibly, at least in the 11th stanza, pointing out that eternal love could only exist through seperation , i.e. that while some loves may exist together they will have a defined end (oblique loves) while his love is infinite as it never meets its partner. A somewhat ironic truth, though the previous theories seem much better suited in regards to the poem as a whole. Perhaps it however that was something he wished to make a small point about.
He also seemed to be expressing the limits of the power of fate. While initially it was the fate that controlled the situation with "iron wedges" etc, by the end of the poem, we see that love can still in some senses prevail, binding the two together. And so there is a "conjuction of the mind" despite the "oppostion of the stars" (fate) and in this love stil manages to partially prevail.

| Posted on 2009-04-24 | by a guest


.: :.

My love is of a birth as rare
As 'tis for object, strange and high;
It was begotten by Despair
Upon Impossibility
To me this reads of a discovery of love that is unique, and not equaled to anything Marvell has ever experienced, but it is for someone of upper status, that is out of his reach of regular understanding. This understanding of his love brings him deep sadness for he sees the union not occurring.
Magnanimous Despair alone
Could show me so divine a thing,
Where feeble Hope could ne'er have flown
But vainly flapped its tinsel wing
Marvell feels that this heartache is only so great for the love he feels is just as great, and that only through such pain could expose to him the true value of what he has discovered. That the possibility of their love existing is next to none, its existence nonetheless gives the spark of hope where there should be none.
And yet I quickly might arrive
Where my extended soul is fixed/
But Fates does iron wedges drive,
And always crowds itself betwixt.
Since there is hope, that the love is real, Andrew knows how quickly he could allow himself to fall for his love, Mary. However, he knows that again the circumstances of their statuses are determined to keep them apart.
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.
Andrew also seems to feel that these circumstances or Fate as he called it, had reason for being so unbendable to the potential lovers, that being that they had the possibility of being too perfect, so didn't waive so their future could be. The way things stood, if they decided to go against the grain of things, Mary would have her reputation stained by 'slumming' below her class, and that the power of her family would be lesion in the eyes of society, a situation she could not allow to occur.
And therefore her decrees of steel
Us as the distant poles have placed
(Though Love's whole world on us doeth wheel),
Not by themselves to be embraced,
A decision reached by Mary, made it clear that the two potential lovers would not ever be. That they would have to redefine their roles, and keep themselves stern in who they were, for if they forgot themselves, they would for sure become lovers, so a distance must be consciously kept.
Unless the giddy heaven fall,
And earth some new convulsion tear,
And, us to join, the world should all
Be cramped into a planisphere.
For unless a miracle occurs that would change the way the world was ran at that time, the two would never be together. For the possibility of any hope at all became less feasible of occurring than shrinking the entire world into a small hole.
As lines, so loves oblique may well
Themselves in every angle greet,
But ours, so truly parallel,
Though infinite, can never meet.
Marvell compares the love he feels with Mary more different than most loves, which have so many opportunities to exist and bloom, where theirs had little to none. Though their love still came to be, their lives could not cross into each other, but that would not lessen its potency, and it would continue to exist forever.
Therefore the love which us doth bind,
But Fate so enviously debars,
Is the conjunction of the mind,
And opposition of the stars.
Andrew concludes that their love shall always be a bond between him and Mary, and though their status and circumstances would push to keep them for ever apart, they would know they love one another. Like star cross lovers drawn to each other as Romeo was to Juliet, their hearts would sing for the other, but unlike the lovers of tragic fate, they would live another day in remembrance of what could have been, as they find out what will be - separately and alone.

| Posted on 2009-03-17 | by a guest


.: :.

To the contrary, this poem is not hard to comprehend. It strikes the essence of feeling generated in a heart, perhaps even moreso the mind, of one who feels subject to an involuntary separation from the object of his love. Lacking prior knowledge of the Mary Fairfax theory listed in the prior post, I now see the added dimension of one who is near and has access to his desire, but perhaps voluntarily foregoes the same because it serves a higher or more honorable interest to do so. Hence, analogies of opposite global poles and parallel lines.

| Posted on 2009-03-10 | by a guest


.: :.

This poem is very hard to comprehend or understand from any point of view unless knowing the context of his writing and background on Marvell. This poem is most likely directed towards Mary Fairfax, a girl he tutored for some years before going onto tutor William Dutton and eventually ending up in Parliament. She was of a much higher status than he was and it would almost be impossible for them to be together, with her family reputation. That is why he refers to his love as so great, but unable to show with hers.

| Posted on 2009-02-07 | by a guest


.: :.

Andrew Marvell was a major political figure of his time,however, the poet in him writes mostly on metaphysical themes.
The subject of this poem is (evidently) love. Over here he speaks of divine love as experienced by him. His love, though divine, remains unrequited.
It is interesting to note that he personifies all the emotions excepting love; ie Fate and Despair.
This poem echoes with the understanding of that which is larger than Life, Love and Fate.

| Posted on 2009-01-06 | by a guest




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