The Definition of Love

- 1621-1678
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'r have flown
But vainly flapt its Tinsel Wing.

And yet I quickly might arrive
Where my extended Soul is fixt,
But Fate does Iron wedges drive,
And alwaies crowds it self betwixt.

For Fate with jealous Eye does see
Two perfect Loves; nor lets them close:
Their union would her ruine be,
And her Tyrannick pow'er depose.

And therefore her Decrees of Steel
Us as the distant Poles have plac'd,
(Though Love's whole World on us doth wheel)
Not by themselves to be embrac'd.

Unless the giddy Heaven fall,
And Earth some new Convulsion tear;
And, us to joyn, the World should all
Be cramp'd 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 debarrs,
Is the Conjunction of the Mind,
And Opposition of the Stars.

More by Andrew Marvell

The Mower's Song

My mind was once the true survey
    Of all these meadows fresh and gay,
    And in the greenness of the grass
    Did see its hopes as in a glass;
    When Juliana came, and she
What I do to the grass, does to my thoughts and me.

    But these, while I with sorrow pine,
    Grew more luxuriant still and fine,
    That not one blade of grass you spied,
    But had a flower on either side;
    When Juliana came, and she
What I do to the grass, does to my thoughts and me.

    Unthankful meadows, could you so
    A fellowship so true forgo,
    And in your gaudy May-games meet,
    While I lay trodden under feet?
    When Juliana came, and she
What I do to the grass, does to my thoughts and me.

    But what you in compassion ought,
    Shall now by my revenge be wrought:
    And flow'rs, and grass, and I and all,
    Will in one common ruin fall.
    For Juliana comes, and she
What I do to the grass, does to my thoughts and me.

    And thus, ye meadows, which have been
    Companions of my thoughts more green,
    Shall now the heraldry become
    With which I will adorn my tomb;
    For Juliana comes, and she
What I do to the grass, does to my thoughts and me.

Bermudas

Where the remote Bermudas ride   
In the ocean's bosom unespied,   
From a small boat that row'd along   
The listening woods received this song:   
  
'What should we do but sing His praise
That led us through the watery maze   
Unto an isle so long unknown,   
And yet far kinder than our own?   
Where He the huge sea-monsters wracks,   
That lift the deep upon their backs,
He lands us on a grassy stage,   
Safe from the storms' and prelates' rage:   
He gave us this eternal Spring   
Which here enamels everything,   
And sends the fowls to us in care
On daily visits through the air:   
He hangs in shades the orange bright   
Like golden lamps in a green night,   
And does in the pomegranates close   
Jewels more rich than Ormus shows:
He makes the figs our mouths to meet   
And throws the melons at our feet;   
But apples plants of such a price,   
No tree could ever bear them twice.   
With cedars chosen by His hand 
From Lebanon He stores the land;   
And makes the hollow seas that roar   
Proclaim the ambergris on shore.   
He cast (of which we rather boast)   
The Gospel's pearl upon our coast;
And in these rocks for us did frame   
A temple where to sound His name.   
O, let our voice His praise exalt   
Till it arrive at Heaven's vault,   
Which thence (perhaps) rebounding may
Echo beyond the Mexique bay!'   
  
Thus sung they in the English boat   
A holy and a cheerful note:   
And all the way, to guide their chime,   
With falling oars they kept the time.

The Picture of Little T. C. in a Prospect of Flowers

See with what simplicity
    This nymph begins her golden days!
      In the green grass she loves to lie,
  And there with her fair aspect tames
  The wilder flowers, and gives them names;
    But only with the roses plays,
                       And them does tell
What colour best becomes them, and what smell.
  
      Who can foretell for what high cause
    This darling of the gods was born?
      Yet this is she whose chaster laws
  The wanton Love shall one day fear,
  And, under her command severe,
    See his bow broke and ensigns torn.
                      Happy who can
Appease this virtuous enemy of man!
  
      O then let me in time compound
    And parley with those conquering eyes,
      Ere they have tried their force to wound; 
  Ere with their glancing wheels they drive
  In triumph over hearts that strive,
    And them that yield but more despise:
                       Let me be laid, 
Where I may see the glories from some shade.
  
      Meantime, whilst every verdant thing
    Itself does at thy beauty charm,
      Reform the errors of the Spring; 
  Make that the tulips may have share
  Of sweetness, seeing they are fair, 
    And roses of their thorns disarm; 
                       But most procure
That violets may a longer age endure.
  
      But O, young beauty of the woods,
    Whom Nature courts with fruits and flowers,
      Gather the flowers, but spare the buds;
  Lest Flora, angry at thy crime 
  To kill her infants in their prime,
    Do quickly make th' example yours;
                      And ere we see,
Nip in the blossom all our hopes and thee.