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Marvell as a lyrical poet

The word lyric is derived from the Greek 'lurikos' meaning sung to or adapted to the lyre. It is usually a short poem in which a mood or an emotion is expressed. So lyricism implies strong and sincere emotion, spontaneity, simplicity, and melody. Almost all the metaphysical poets were lyrical writers, and even religious poems show this lyrical quality. Marvell as a member of the metaphysical school of poetry also possesses this quality. His poetry is marked by lyric grace which means the quality of charming the readers by a delightful tunes, a refinement of manner and expression and Marvell as a lyrical poet.

The Fair Singer is a poem containing a well-worded and glowing tribute to the poet's mistress. The poet here expresses his ardent admiration for the beautiful eyes and sweet voice of his mistress. In this poem we have the charm of word and phrase. For example, the poet says that his entangled soul cannot release itself from the curled trammels of her hair. The fair singer is an excellent lyric a short, intensely emotional, highly imaginative, and musical poem which comes directly from the writer's heart.

With the exception of one piece Marvell's love poetry has a little passion, while it is full of conceits. "The Definition of Love" has been described as merely a study in the manner of Donne's Valediction'. Marvell was a friend of Milton, and perhaps like Milton, he also may have had theories as to the true relation of the sexes which interfered with the spontaneous expression of feeling. There is however one poem in which passion is allowed to take its most natural path, although even in it one feels that the poet is expressing the passion of the human race rather than his own individual feeling. The passion being, as often in Marvell, masked and heightened by wit, the effect is singularly striking. Indeed as a love lyric "To His Coy Mistress" is unique. It could not be the most popular of Marvell's poems, but for lyrical grace and the intensity of passion, it ranks higher than the bulk of his other verse. He begins with hyperbolical protestations to his mistress of the slow and solemn state with which their wooing should be conducted, if only time and space were their servants and not their masters. Each beauty also of face and feature should have its special and age-long praise:

But at my back I always hear Time's winged chariot hurrying near, And yonder all before us lie Deserts of vast eternity, The grave's a fine and private place But none, I think, do there embrace"

Thus the lyrical grace of Marvell's poetry comes when we go through it and realise the passion with which he wrote it.


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