Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
The Definition of Love
By Andrew Marvell (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        5
  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;        10
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,        15
  And her tyrannic 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,        20
 
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 love’s oblique, may well        25
  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,        30
Is the conjunction of the mind,
  And opposition of the stars.
 
 
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