Marvell's love-poems constitute an important division of lyric poetry, the other two important divisions being poems dealing with the theme of religion and those dealing with the theme nature. His love-poems include The Fair Singer, The Definition of e, To His Coy Mistress, Young Love, The Unfortunate Lover, The Picture of Little T.C., The Mower to the Glo-worms, and Damon the Mower. Then there are poems in which the theme of love occurs a subsidiary subject, poems like Upon Appleton House and The oh Complaining. Marvell’s treatment of love in his poems attracts the readers. Now let us discuss how Marvell treats love in his poems.
"To His Coy Mistress", a Masterpiece
At first in certain respects, Marvell is Petrarchan in his love-poems . The Petrarchan mode gave glowing and eloquent praises on beloved’s beauty. The Petrarchan lover often sighed for the indifference of his beloved. Now, this Petrarchan mode is found in at least three of the love-poems, namely The Fair Singer, To His Coy Mistress ,Unfortunate Lover. In the first of these poems, the lover praises the beauty of his mistress's eyes and voice in an extravagant way like a typical Petrarchan lover. In To His Coy Mistress the lover speaks of the mistress's limbs in hyperbolic terms, asserting that hundreds and thousands of years to be able to adequately. In The Unfortunate Lover, the lover has let winds and the waves sigh and shed tears.
It has been said that Marvell’s love poems lack passions. But the charge of a want of passion is not applicable for the above three poems. In these three poems the passion of the lover is as in any Elizabethan love-poem. The statement that Marvell ‘s verse is cold is certainly not true of these three poems. In the Fair Singer, the lover says that both beauties of his mistress of her eyes and the, beauty other voice have joined the fatal harmony to bring about his death, and that with her voice she captivates his mind. He then goes on to speak of the "curled trammels of her hair" in which his I heart got entangled, and the subtle art with which she can-weave fetters him of the very air he breathes. If a lover can thus speak about his feelings, we cannot say that he is a cold kind of lover. In poem To His Coy Mistress, the passion is equally ardent. While lover adopts a witty and somewhat sarcastic manner of speaking first two stanzas, he becomes truly ardent and, fervid in his passion in last stanza. In this final stanza he reaches the zenith of his passion when he suggests that he and she should roll their strength and all their sweetness up into one ball and should their pleasures with rough strife through the iron gates of life. In The Unfortunate Lover also the passion is intense, almost red-hot. Inver is here hit by "all the winged artillery of Cupid" and, like Idi finds himself between the "flames and the waves".
The Argumentative Quality of love poems
Another feature of Marvell’s love poems is that they are often based on arguments. Marvell’s most famous argumentative love poem is To His Coy Mistress. There is another poem namely "Young Love" in which the argumentative quality paramount and the passion of love is therefore superseded by the logic which dominates the poem. This poem has an absolutely unconventional theme. Its title is Young Love, and here a grown up man has conceived a passion for a little girl (of about thirteen fourteen). The lover proceeds to persuade the young, immature to love him in return, and he gives all kinds of argument convince her. He would like her to make up her mind quickly not to wait till she attains the age of fifteen. There is a possibility that fate might afterwards thwart them in their desire to love each other; now is therefore the time and the opportunity for them crown each other with their loves. The whole poem is one extended argument, and the originality of the poem lies in the manner the argument is developed. The response of the girl is not a part of the poem, but we can imagine that she could not have resisted such a persuasive and importunate lover.
Love, a Subsidiary Theme in Two of the Poems
Disappointment in love is briefly introduced in the poem Nymph Complaining, the main subject of which is the death of pet fawn. However, the theme of love there cannot be ignored. The wrong which the Nymph suffered at the hands of her false lover Sylvio was as grave as the one she has now suffered at the hands of the wanton troopers who have killed her pet fawn. The Nymph is certainly not a cold-hearted girl. She loved Sylvio intensely, and her suffering when he deserted her was intense also. Equally strong must have been the love of the first Fairfax for Miss Thwait whom he was able ultimately to win as his bride in spite of the opposition of the nuns and her own excessive modesty, as related in the poem, on Appleton House. In these two poems, however, the passion of love is not much dwelt upon; it is merely indicated, and we have ourselves to imagine its love in the Pastoral Poems
Thus, we see that as a love poet Marvell is sometimes Petrarchan, sometimes passionate and sometimes he is very argumentative. But the role of intellectual arguments of his poems also cannot be ignored. The intellectual arguments often become dominant and love is pushed into background.