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Andrew Marvell, Metaphysical Poetry Essay

1079 words - 5 pages


Andrew Marvell was a well renowned metaphysical poet who posed questions concerning the ideological and theological. Metaphysics is defined as a highly abstract branch of philosophy, concerned with the underlying structure of reality that exists beyond the realm of the physical world and our immediate senses. The Renaissance period was a time that openly accepted new ideas and new beliefs. Marvell, whose writing was generally of a witty nature and full of elaborate conceits, challenged universal concepts such as love, fate and time, reflecting on carpe diem in his ...view middle of the document...

After the persona falls to that belief, they slowly accept their unrequited love. The depressing tone that this poem is read in stresses the persona’s despair in his love and to keep this tone Marvell uses rhyming couplets and enjambment. This despair was brought upon by Fate, which Marvell depicted as a force acting against the persona’s love rather than supporting it.

Marvell personifies the universal concept of Fate as a woman with “her tyrannic power” intervening with the persona’s happiness in true love. The idea of Fate is explored throughout stanzas three to five, her prowess magnified in each in phrases such as; “But Fate does iron wedges drive”, “her tyrannic power depose” and “her decrees of steel”. The personification of Fate fabricates also the superiority of the abstract, when juxtaposed with the realistic. The Definition of Love itself is such a comparison as it brings together that irrational entity that is Love with Marvell’s attempt to rationalize it. Marvell is depicting the ideology that divine love can surpass death, while also presenting the idea that physical love will diminish quickly, due to the universal theme of time, which is seen through the use of theological and spiritual symbolism and imagery “ And yet I quickly might arrive/ where my extended soul is fixed”.

Thus Marvell in The 'Definition of Love' places a high emphasis on the importance of the spiritual world and its total superiority when contrasted with the physical realm. This notion is juxtaposed with the main conceptions in 'To His Coy Mistress' where he emphasizes the importance of the mortal experience and reality.

Marvell’s 'To His Coy Mistress' exploits the universal theme of time as being the underlying factor of contributing to the young man’s plea for sexual connotations with the young lady. It also explores the paradoxical nature of time itself, in particular the fact that time is the agent of both growth and decay. In the first stanza Marvell, with wit and seductive language, portrays his stron feelings with lines such as “A hundred years should go to...

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