Discuss the definition of Love by Andrew Marvell in his poem “The Definition of Love”


Andrew Marvell (1621-1678) is one of the famous poets who belong to the Metaphysical school of poetry. He is unique in his description of love in his famous poem “The Definition of Love”. He has defined his love unparallel in the following ways.

More Notes: Andrew Marvell

Platonic conception

Platonic love means is a kind of love where there remains the union of the true mind but there is no need for physical union. In the case of platonic love, we find clear evidence of the union of the true mind of two lovers. The poem “The Definition of Love” defines that Marvell’s love for his beloved is out and out platonic.

“Two perfect lovers; nor lets them close:

Their union would her ruine be,”

The rarity of expressing love

To express love, the poet has used various rare expressions. He has compared his love for the birth of a child by mentioning such types of metaphors he has given his love uniqueness

Begotten from despair

In the poem “Definition of Love” he defines his love as born of despair. Although he speaks of his love in a tone of despair, he believes that his love is genuine and rare because fake lovers do not hesitate to be physically united but his love is an exceptional one. The following lines convey the meaning of Marvel’s frustration.

“It was begotten by Despair,

Upon Impossibility………….”

Using geometrical arguments

To define love, Marvell uses some geometric reasoning based on virtual images. They are standing at the end of a straight line. Their union is impossible because they are not like illegitimate lovers. Their love is divine. The combination of the mind is just like the disposition of the stars. Their love is not only divine but also true where we find the union of two pure souls


In termination, we can say that Marvell has defined his love as the union of love which is separated from physical attraction and also bears a message to the illicit lover to remain away from the illicit love affairs. Otherwise, they will be ruined very soon.

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

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