The Definition of Love

Original Text: 
Andrew Marvell, Miscellaneous Poems, ed. Mary Marvell (1681). Facs. edn.: Scolar Press, 1969. PR 3546 A1 1681A ROBA.
1My love is of a birth as rare
3It was begotten by Despair
4Upon Impossibility.
5Magnanimous Despair alone
6Could show me so divine a thing
7Where feeble Hope could ne'er have flown,
8But vainly flapp'd its tinsel wing.
9And yet I quickly might arrive
10Where my extended soul is fixt,
11But Fate does iron wedges drive,
12And always crowds itself betwixt.
13For Fate with jealous eye does see
15Their union would her ruin be,
16And her tyrannic pow'r depose.
17And therefore her decrees of steel
18Us as the distant poles have plac'd,
19(Though love's whole world on us doth wheel)
20Not by themselves to be embrac'd;
21Unless the giddy heaven fall,
22And earth some new convulsion tear;
23And, us to join, the world should all
25As lines, so loves oblique may well
26Themselves in every angle greet;
27But ours so truly parallel,
28Though infinite, can never meet.
29Therefore the love which us doth bind,
30But Fate so enviously debars,
32And opposition of the stars.


2] for object: in its object. Back to Line
14] close: come together. Back to Line
24] planisphere: a map formed by the projection of a sphere, or part of one, on a plane; here an astrolabe. Back to Line
31] Conjunction and opposition represent favourable and unfavourable positions of the stars. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.358-59.