Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


The Definition of Love

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.

Credit


This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 31, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“The Definition of Love” appeared in Miscellaneous Poems, (Robert Boulter, 1681). 

Author


Andrew Marvell

A well-known politician, English poet and satirist Andrew Marvell held office in Oliver Cromwell's government and represented Hull to Parliament during the Restoration.

Date Published: 1681-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/definition-love