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Time and Fate are treated in Marvell's poems

Marvell's best poems were written approximately in the early 1650's. "The Definition of Love" and "To His Coy Mistress" are among the great metaphysical poems of love. Each of the poems is an argument pressing towards a conclusion by seemingly logical steps. The essence of both poems is paradox, yet every idea and word is an integral part of the pattern. Both the poems display the poet's attitude to love with reference to Time and Fate are treated in Marvell's poems.

"To His Coy Mistress" deals extensively with the poet's conception of 'Time'. Addressing his beloved who refuses to grant him sexual favours on account of her modesty and her sense of honour, the poet says that her coyness would have been justified if they had enough space and time at their disposal. Using a series of metaphysical conceits the poet-lover argues that if they had enough time at their disposal, they would be able to wander as far apart as the Indian Ganges and the English Humber, he would love his mistress from a time ten years before the Flood and would spend hundreds and thousands of years in admiring and adoring various parts of her body. But this is not possible because Time is passing very quickly and eventually both the lovers will have to face "Deserts of vast eternity." After a few years her beauty will perish and she will lie in her marble tomb and the poet also will no longer be there to sing his love song. Therefore, it would be appropriate for both of them to enjoy the pleasures of love when there is still time, when there is still youthful glamour and burning desire in them.

The poet through this poem has given us a comprehensive idea of the passing of time of the passing of our youthful gaiety and vigour , and the conception of eternity. The picture of time's winged chariot hurrying and coming closer and closer to overtake the lovers vividly brings before our minds the rapid passing of time.

Again we get a clear conception of the eternity. The word eternity means timelessness. Here eternity is shown as a world beyond this physical world, and it is a dreadful, vast and deserted place where there is no vegetation and no hope. The poet lover means that beyond this world there is nothing that can cheer up a human heart.

"The Definition of Love" gives us an impression about the nature of the poet's love for his beloved. This love being perfect and divine, is unattainable and Fate is always hostile to this kind of love. Perfect lovers are never permitted by Fate to be united. The decrees of Fate have placed the two perfect lovers as far away from each other as are the two poles. Thus throughout the whole poem, the poet by using conceit after conceit brings out the conflict between Fate and true love. The idea is that the poet's love implies a spiritual union but a physical separation. Fate makes perfect love impossible of realisation.

To sum up, "To His Coy Mistress" and "The Definition of Love" show Andrew Marvell most obviously as a poet in the metaphysical tradition. Both the poems deal with the problem of Time and Fate in relation to man's limited span of life on earth. "To His Coy Mistress" shows the fleeting nature of time and the vast eternity which lies empty and barren in ahead of man. "The Definition of Love" shows how true and perfect lovers are destined to be separated from each other. In any case man is a victim of Time and Fate.


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