Where my extended soul is fixed

(Detail from The Venetian Lovers by Paris Bordone)

This fragment is from Andrew Marvell (1621 -1678), metaphysical poet and friend of John Milton.

The Definition of Love

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
Could show me so divine a thing,
Where feeble Hope could ne’r have flown,
But vainly flapped its Tinsel Wing.

And yet I quickly might arrive
Where my extended Soul is fixed,
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,
And her Tyrannick pow’r 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 embrac’d,

Unless the giddy Heaven fall,
And Earth some new convulsion tear;
And, us to join, the World should all
Be cramp’d into a Planisphere.

As Lines so Love’s oblique may well
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 debarrs,
Is the conjunction of the Mind,
And Opposition of the Stars.

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