Young Love by Andrew Marvell

The poem, Young Love is written in very simple language, but the readers do have some difficulty in understanding the meaning in certain stanzas because of the compressed style in which the poem is written. As an example of the close compression and the concentration of meaning, let’s take stanza VI which refers to the uncertain attitude of fate towards the poet and the little girl.

So we win of doubtful fate;

And if good she to us meant,

We that good shall antedate,

Or, if ill, that ill prevent.

The same stanza also provides an example of the compact and terse style of Young Love. Apart from the use of compressed style, the poem also has a number of conceits, which can be best defined and depicted by the lamb and the kid. The same is the case with the role of fate, which is cited by the poet as a plea to support his case. But the most striking conceit can be seen in Stanza VII where the parallel cited is that of little boys being crowned in their cradles to frustrated foreign claimants to the kinship.

Young Love by Andrew Marvell


Rhyming and Repetition of Words in the Poem

The poem, Young Love, also comes with another noteworthy characteristic of subtly used internal rhyming from stanza I to IV, and the repetition of whole words in Stanzas V to VIII. For example, the word “love” is repeated in Stanza V, the words “good” and “ill” are repeated in stanza VI, the word “crown” is repeated in stanza VIII. However, this repetition does not jar upon us; on the contrary, it even has a pleasing effect. Over all, this is one of best lyrics by Andrew Marvell.


Young Love Analysis

Come, little infant, love me now,

While thine unsuspected years

Clear thine agèd father’s brow

From cold jealousy and fears.

The poem, Young Love by Andrew Marvell is about the poet’s invitation to a very young girl to love him. In the poem, the poet is a grown-up and mature man who invites a little girl of about nine or ten years or, maybe, fourteen years, to love him, and he gives reasons why she should love him while she is still so young.

Being very young, the little girl cannot be suspected by her father of having any thoughts of sexual pleasure. If therefore, she loves the poet now, her father will have no reason to feel any anxiety about her and will not feel jealous. It will never occur to her father that she loves anybody.

Pretty, surely, ’twere to see

By young love old time beguiled,

While our sportings are as free

As the nurse’s with the child.

The poet then says that it will be very pretty love affair between them because the girl will successfully be defeating old Time. Old Time thinks that the girl will fall in love in due course when she has become mature for the purpose, but she will deceive Old Time by falling in love now when she is still very young. Besides, the poet and she can make love to each other freely and without any inhibitions. Their love will be as free from any taint of stigma as the love of a nurse for a child.

Common beauties stay fifteen;

Such as yours should swifter move,

Whose fair blossoms are too green

Yet for lust, but not for love.

The poet says that it is true that girls of ordinary beauty wait till the age of fifteen to fall in love. But this particular girl is extraordinarily beautiful and she should therefore move quickly in the matter. She should fall in love with him just now when she is too young to have any sexual desire but not too young to experience the feeling of love.

Love as much the snowy lamb,

Or the wanton kid, does prize,

As the lusty bull or ram,

For his morning sacrifice.

The poet then gives another argument. Even the young ones of animals experience the feeling of love, as do grown-up animals like the bull and the male goat both of which are full of lust. That being so, there will be nothing wrong in a little girl’s falling in love at this age.

Now then love me: time may take

Thee before thy time away:

Of this need we’ll virtue make,

And learn love before we may.

The poet, in the following stanza, goes on to give yet another argument. There is a possibility of the girl’s dying prematurely. It is therefore necessary that he and she should make use of the present time and should learn to love each other before she quits this world.

So we win of doubtful fate;

And if good she to us meant,

We that good shall antedate,

Or, if ill, that ill prevent.

The poet says that the intentions of fate towards them are unknown. If fate intends to favour them with success in their love, it would be better for them to love each other now in order that they may enjoy the pleasure of loving earlier than the date which fate has in mind. If fate is hostile to them, they should love each other now so that they can enjoy the pleasure now when it is possible to do so, and not wait for fate to frustrate their love.

Thus as kingdoms, frustrating

Other titles to their crown,

In the cradle crown their king,

So all foreign claims to drown,


So, to make all rivals vain,

Now I crown thee with my love:

Crown me with thy love again,

And we both shall monarchs prove.

Then comes the poet’s argument in the final stanzas. Sometimes little boys are crowned in their cradles to frustrate foreign claimants to the throne and in order to prevent a war. In the same way, the poet would like to crown the little girl with flowers to frustrate other candidates for her love. Accordingly, the poet proceeds to put a crown of flowers on the little girl’s head and asks her to crown him with her love in return. Thus crowned, both can become monarchs—a king and a queen—in the realm of love.


Critical Analysis of Young Love

The poem, Young Love by Andrew Marvell has a very unusual theme. The poet is here addressing a little girl and asking her to love him now when she is still very young. He gives various arguments to induce the little girl to respond to his love for her. The girl is much below the age of fifteen, but the poet is very eager that she should love him now and not wait till she attains the age of fifteen. The situation as depicted in the poem is not very much to our liking. We can hardly approve of an elderly man’s falling in love with a little girl and urging her to love him in return. This love-poem is certainly unwholesome and indicates some kind of perversions on the part of the poet or the speaker in the poem even though his love may not be sensual.

The poem is written in the form of a dramatic monologue with the poet speaking and expressing his love for the little girl who remains silent (if at all she is present when the lover is speaking). The lover offers several arguments to support his plea that the girl should love him in return. We have here an example of a lyric that is full of passion but which is characterized by close and sustained reasoning. In other words, this poem provides an example of what has been called “passionate thinking” which was an important characteristic of metaphysical poetry.

This is an argumentative kind of poem. Once we accept the situations of and keep our moral objections in abeyance, we would find the arguments of the lover to be quite convincing.

In the first place, the girl’s father cannot suspect her because she is so young that she is not expected to love anybody at this age.

Secondly, the girl’s love will have nothing of lust in it.

Thirdly, even the young ones of animals are aware of love and prize love.

Fourthly, there is a possibility that the girl may die prematurely and it is, therefore, desirable that she should make the best use of the present time by responding to the poet’s love.

Fifthly, the lover and the girl should cooperate in order to have the better of fate. If fate has good intentions towards them, they should enjoy the pleasures of love-making earlier than the date which fate has in mind. If fate is to prove hostile to them ultimately, they should make use of the present and make love now, thus preventing fate from frustrating their love afterward.

Finally, this is the time for the lover to win the girl’s love so that other possible candidates for her love can be kept away from her.

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