Is it better to have loved and lost, than never loved at all? When considering the abstractness and relativity of love, poetry is an art form unrivaled. T.S. Eliot and Andrew Marvell, each poets of incredible vision, analyzed love in two entirely different lights while concurrently capturing identical aspects. One of Eliot's earliest poems, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," stars a lonely, brooding speaker incapable of mustering up the courage to pursue love. In Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress," the poem features one sly speaker attempting to woo a young woman into bed. Both poems analyze the topic of love, and more importantly, its elusiveness. T.S. Eliot was a young man when he wrote his poem in the early twentieth century. Andrew Marvell, generally recognized as a pious Anglican Christian poet, published his surprisingly out of character poem posthumously. Why is it that these two poems, entirely different in everything from construct to tone to time period, are capable of capturing the demons and trials man must overcome when pursuing love? They are each writers with command over a variety of poetic tools. Each alludes to Classical and Biblical references, and each is unique in its perspective. The speakers in both poems have the same goal, but only Marvell is directed towards an actual person. On the other hand, the fictitious Prufrock of Eliot's design is introverted.
[...] Despite "To His Coy Mistress," most of Andrew Marvell's work had religious themes and great respect for Christian doctrine. As Bruce King writes, "It is not necessary to resort to a theory of artistic impersonality, or to assume that Marvell was enjoying a pagan holiday, to find a place for To his Coy Mistress within the allegorical imagination" (Marvell's Allegorical Poetry, 66). The design of this poem was to employ Christian elements in such a way that it would ironically promote wholly non-Christian themes such as impatience, carnal sin, and a biblically Satanic approach to corruption. [...]
[...] This introverted image of a lonely shell in a massive empty sea further conveys his submissiveness to an intimidating society, and lack of courage to pursue the love he admires so dearly throughout his monologue. He compares himself to Lazarus, a man returned from the dead (l. 94). This allusion, as one of Derek Stoles' students puts it, "is hardly going to impress any woman he might want to date" (The Prufrock Makeover, 60). To contrast, Marvell writes in a positive tone. [...]
[...] It is a dramatic monologue with himself, and so his insecurities rise with the continuation of the poem. He even laments, at the end of the poem, have heard the mermaids singing, each to each/ I do not think that they will sing to me" (124-125). His lack of confidence, as he thinks more and more about how he feels causes him to become less courageous. Ultimately he rejects any opportunity to be considerate and open with any other woman that may be available, and assumes defeat. [...]
[...] Strangely, after he misses his opportunities to be daring, he then moves on to the next topic to doubt, instead of brooding longingly over the question, "What The characters in each of these poems, the diction, tone and symbolism, all seem to be correlated in some literal references. Despite both poems being written hundreds of years apart, the theme of Love is prevalent and strikingly similar despite centuries of social change. For T.S. Eliot's mournful love song, and for Andrew Marvell's bard-like wooing, Love is an elusive concept consistently challenged by the forces of nature, time, and a universal human disposition to fear earnest connections with other people. Works Cited DiYanni, Robert. Literature: Approaches to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill King, Bruce. Marvell's [...]
[...] Alfred Prufrock" also talks to a mysterious counterpart only referred to in the beginning of the poem, "Let us go then, you and I/When the evening is spread out against the sky" ("The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," lines 1-2.) While Marvell's poem is obviously directed from a man to a woman, the possibility that Prufrock is having an internal conversation is likely. Thus, both poems are monologues. The tone of each poem is decisively different. Eliot's poem delves into psychological images designed to portray the forlorn nature of the insecure Prufrock. [...]
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