Penguin Classics Complete Poems Paperback – Jan 1 1976
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About the Author
Marvell, Andrew (1621--78), was one of the English Metaphysical Poets. Educated at Cambridge, he worked as a clerk, traveled abroad, and returned to serve as tutor to Lord Fairfax's daughter in Yorkshire. In 1657 he was appointed John Milton's assistant in the Latin secretaryship, and in 1659 he was elected to Parliament, where he served until his death. He was one of the chief wits and satirists of his time as well as being a Puritan and a public defender of individual liberty. Today, however, he is known chiefly for his brilliant lyric poetry, which includes The Garden, The Definition of Love, Bermudas, and To His Coy Mistress, and for his Horatian Ode to Cromwell.
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Though the "mower poems" and To His Coy Mistress contain some of the most beautiful lines in all poetry, so much of Marvell's work consists of lengthy, politically themed poems that are usually centered on some event that was occurring during the poet's life. It's a real pity he did not write more of the shorter, lyrical poems that he excelled at. Two poems, "The Mower Against Gardens" and "The Garden" are among my favorites. One enumerates the many delights of having a garden; the other notes that gardens are not as beautiful as natural wildflower meadows where everything grows in delightful chaos, and admonishes gardeners for taking tropical plants and transplanting them in cold, alien environments. The handful of incomparable poems in this volume make it a collection worth having. And if you also enjoy the political poems, it's great having all the poems in one book.
in Seventeenth Century English Poetry, was published by the U MI doctorate mill. It's in one German library, at the University where Pope Benedict XVI once taught and administered. I cannot claim he ordered it, but...
Directing my thesis was the delightful Leonard Unger (U MN), who with his friend Saul Bellow once composed, over lunch, a translation of the first four lines of Eliot's Wasteland--into Yiddish. Leonard had an expansive mind, and broadened my studies of Marvell into comparative European literature-- since Marvell tutored languages to Lord General Fairfax's daughter. They lived near Hull at Appleton House, after Fairfax retired as head of Cromwell's army at age 33, because of his refusal to participate in the trial of Charles I; when Fairfax's name was read in Westminster Hall, a voice called out, "He has too much sense to be here." This caused a mini-riot; it was his wife's voice, Anne Vere's. The following day, someone tried the same thing, and was branded.
In his "Garden," Marvell writes perhaps the best lines in all lit on the human mind, especially in the midst of nature, "The Mind, that Ocean where each kind/ Does streight its own resemblance find,/ Yet it creates, transcending these,/ Far other Worlds, and other Seas,/ Annihilating all that's made/ To a green Thought, in a green Shade." His environmentalist lines in the same poem criticize Fond lovers' carving names in trees. "Fair trees! where s'eer your barkes I wound/ No names shall but your own be found." He puts this into practice in his Latin version of the same poem, "Hortus." He says he will carve "nullla Naera, or Chloe, but Plane tree and Elm, Plantanus ...Ulmus.
Marvell had a marvelous ear, so that even in his funny prose satirizing the bishops (whom, like Milton, he generally opposed) he writes with amusing alliteration, on Archbishop Parker's sexual peccadilloes, "The sympathy of silk brought tippet to petticoat, and petticoat to tippet."
My study emphasizes that all of Marvell's poems are criticism of other poems, in verse. Many of them critique the pastoral convention then so prevalent, like "Picture of Little T.C. in a Prospect of Flowers," and "The Garden." His most famous poem, "To his Coy Mistress," unprecedented and unreiterated in his canon, critiques Carpe Diem poems, including many sonnets. (Shakespeare's "My Mistress' Eyes" also critiques sonnet conventions, as do a a few of Sidney's sonnets.) In fact, English poets until Dryden usually included criticism of other poems--Donne, Jonson, Herbert, Herrick, Carew, Suckling, Cleveland. After Dryden, criticism became a prose landscape. Too bad. With this loss, poetry became famously non-analytical. But why? Many Renaissance poems discourse on natural philosophy, what we call "science." Cowley in English, Giordano Bruno in Latin. (My last two books are on G Bruno.)