Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Fair Singer - Andrew Marvell

To make a final conquest of all me,
Love did compose so sweet an enemy,
In whom both beauties to my death agree,
Joining themselves in fatal harmony;
That while she with her eyes my heart does bind,
She with her voice might captivate my mind.

I could have fled from one but singly fair,
My disentangled soul itself might save,
Breaking the curled trammels of her hair.
But how should I avoid to be her slave,
Whose subtle art invisibly can wreath
My fetters of the very air I breathe?

It had been easy fighting in some plain,
Where victory might hang in equal choice,
But all resistance against her is vain,
Who has th'advantage both of eyes and voice,
And all my forces needs must be undone,
She having gained both the wind and sun.

The narrator in this Andrew Marvell poem seems proud to not have succumbed to love.  He hadn't at least, until he met the woman in this poem.  He caught the narrator's eyes with her own, and her voice captivated him.  The poem is full of the most flowery language of falling in love. and outlandish comparisons.  To the narrator, even fighting in open warfare is easier, because at least there there is a chance of victory.  But with a woman who is a fair singer?  She has gained "both the wind and sun."  What an image for voice and eye!  His fetters (chains) are woven out of the very air he himself breathes when she shapes it into song.  It's a beautiful account of infatuation, and I like very much that the poem focuses on the voice rather than just physical features.

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