Andrew Marvell Poems
A Stylistic Analysis of Andrew Marvell’s Mower Against the Garden
Andrew Marvell’s Mower Against the Garden is the first in a series of four ‘Garden’ poems. The poem can be read literally, as a pastoral, ecological poem concerned with the destruction of the natural landscape as a result of human consumerism; in particular the fashion for highly ornate, architectural gardens. This is an easy assumption to make when taking Marvell’s personal background into account. Marvell grew up in rural Yorkshire, the son of a clergyman and later resided at Nun Appleton House as a tutor to Lord Fairfax’s daughter. It is therefore a fair assumption to make that he would be familiar with high lifestyle and possibly be concerned enough to have an opinion on ecological consequences. However, if we regard Marvell as a metaphysical poet, as he is credited to be, we realise there areEdenic references. Mira Sengupta’s interpretation of the poemarguesthat we have to read the poem as a metaphorical allegory for the fall of humankind, and that the assumption that the garden represents nature is “overly simplistic” and that it represents human nature before the fall .
Marvell’s structuring of the poem supports Sengupta’s argument. While the poem is seemingly non-stanzaic there is a clearly defined structure. The poem is made of three sections. The structure of the first two sections is identical, four quatrains which are each made up of a complete sentence, followed by a couplet. The third section is made of one quatrain. The quatrain structure, combined with the fact that the poem is of a series of four could support the pastoral argument, representing the four seasons however the three part structure is comparable to an academic argument – introduction, body and conclusion – which supports Sengupta’s argument. The poem is structured to argue whereas simple pastoral poems are for the most part descriptive poems.
The rhyme and rhythm of the poem strengthen the argument. The poem is constructed of rhyming couplets that follow an AA, BB, CC, DD, through to TT pattern. The first line of each couplet is written in iambic pentameter and the second in iambic tetrameter. The effect this has is that the first line of each couplet makes a statement and the second line supports it. The meter used makes speech natural and is a similar rhythm to the human heartbeat, which makes the poem flow when read aloud, and that is the point – the poem was written to be heard, not read.
The poem’s syntax is particularly interesting. Sengupta puts significance on the shift from ‘he’ to ‘them’ in the first seven lines as evidence of the Adam and Eve allegory. While she makes a strong case with which I agree, I believe she overlooks more obvious signs, which are Marvell’s use of sexual metaphors. As Sengupta rightly points out, the inclusion of the words ‘vice’ and ‘seduce’ in the first two lines sets up the narrative trajectory of the poem. The sexual and sinful connotations are obvious, however it is Marvell’s use of ambiguous sexual metaphors that reinforce the argument. It is his references to, what on the surface are, normal flowers that I find particularly interesting.
The first flower he mentions is the carnation, the “pink” which “grew as double as his mind” l9. Is he referring here to a simple double-bloomed flower or something else? My interpretation is that because he [Adam] is no longer pure in mind due to the introduction of a “nutriment” l10 [Eve] his penis [pink] grew to twice its normal size – in short he was aroused. The next incidence of innocence having sexual connotations is the tulip, a peculiar flower that seems to represent the female lower form aesthetically yet is “overtly and precisely phallic’ according to the gardener Monty Don . Next he mentions the ‘Marvel of Peru’. This exotic flower was only a recent discovery at the time the poem was written and its properties again allude to sexuality. It has uses as an aphrodisiac and has the peculiar quality of being able to produce two different coloured blooms on the same plant.
The property that all these flowers have in common is duality or doubling in some form. The double pink head of the carnation, the aesthetic peculiarity of the tulip and the double-bloom potential of the Marvel of Peru. This dualistic reoccurrence ties them together neatly with the “cherry that does Nature vex” l29 – they are all potentially hermaphrodites. The carnation visually resembles the female sex organs yet in the poem it represents the phallus. The tulip, described by Jeanette Winterson as a “queer little flower” and, more significantly, she uses to represent sexual transformation, is aesthetically both sexes . The Marvel of Peru is a confirmed hermaphrodite, just like the cherry that can “procreate without a sex” l30. The cherry itself has sexual connotations, stones being a slang term for testicles when the poem was produced.
All this is relevant to the poems subject and Sengupta’s argument in that before the introduction of sex and desire in the ‘Garden [of Eden]’ Adam was also a hermaphrodite or at least sexless. Sengupta explains it thus;
‘with the influence of the Mower [mankind after the fall] the plants vex their own nature, because they no longer procreate as they were intended to (asexually)[…] instead of having sex the natural way, the fruits and plants[…] have learned to procreate by means of grafting […] the way humans do, with a partner.”
By using seemingly natural allegories Marvell succeeds in creating a poem that conveys itself initially as a straightforward pastoral poem with ecological undertones, however the underlying sexual allusions mean that the poem succeeds in doing exactly what he accuses the ‘Mower’ of doing; the introduction of the idea of sex and lust taints what was once pure and innocent.
Don, M (2005) My Roots, Great Britain: Hodder & Stoughton. Extract available at https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=koEnG1c3pVsC&pg=PT185&lpg=PT185&dq=phallic+tulip+meaning&source=bl&ots=3FYxb0QuHX&sig=7Yiiy3boNbBsvAr0C64lTQqnHdc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=FuAyU7SwD8KRhQe_2YC4BA#v=onepage&q=phallic%20tulip%20meaning&f=false
Douglas, E (2014) ‘That was a terrible thing to do to a flower: Floral Pleasures and Changeable Bodies Virginia Woolfs Orlando and Jeanette Wintersons The Powerbook’, , (), p14. [Online]. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/4854766/That_was_a_terrible_thing_to_do_to_a_flower_Floral_Pleasures_and_Changeable_Bodies_in_Virginia_Woolfs_Orlando_and_Jeanette_Wintersons_The_PowerBook (Accessed: 26/3/14).
Greenblatt (2012) ‘Andrew Marvell’, in Greenblatt (ed.) Norton Anthology of English Literature Volume B. New York: W.W Norton & Company, pp. 1789-1790.
Sengupta, M () Grafting The Texts: An Intertextual Reading of Marvell’s Mower and Garden Poems, Available at: https://marvell.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/ (Accessed: 26/03/2014).
Artificial Nature and Natural Art: Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene” and Marvell’s “Upon Appleton House”
Many poets draw on the theme of nature to symbolize the message they are trying to convey. In many cases, nature is juxtaposed with artistic design to emphasize the conflict or the relationship between the natural and the human worlds. Millar Maclure clarifies the distinction between nature and art as follows: “nature as what is given, the universal order of creation, including human nature, and art as what is made, what man makes.” He futher explains, “it is also proper to speak of nature as the art or ‘signature’ of God, and of art as the distinguishing quality or evidence of man’s nature.” This conflict between nature and art is often designed as an allegory by authors of poetry to communicate their opinion on society. Both Edmund Spenser (1522-1599) and Andrew Marvell (1621-1678) explore the idea of nature (and art) in their poetry, in order to present a moral as well as a historical lesson.
The works compared in this essay are Book 1 and part of Book 2 (“The Bower of Bliss” episode) of Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, and Marvell’s “Upon Appleton House: To My Lord Fairfax.” The Faerie Queene, Spenser’s longest and greatest work, was published in two parts, the first in 1590 and the second in 1596. He himself describes his work as “a continued Allegory, or darke conceit,” thus alerting the reader to look beyond the literal meaning of the text. Susanne Wofford explains that Spenser uses external events and places to convey the characters’ internal consciousness; “the landscape of Spenser’s poem is a psychological one: many of its places and commonplaces represent spiritual or emotional aspects of the characters themselves. To learn how to read Spenser’s poem,” she writes, “is to learn that everything – a person in a story, a house, a tree or a giant – can represent an aspect of the hero or heroine’s own psyche.” Even though Marvell’s “Upon Appleton House” (1651) is not a “continued allegory” it is filled with allegories referring to England and with a deep relation to the scriptures. “In the poem’s rich symbolism, biblical events – Eden, the first temptation, the Fall, the wilderness experience of the Israelites – find echoes in the experience of the Fairfax family, the speaker, the history of the English Reformation, and the wanton destruction of the recent Civil Wars.” In this essay, I will primarily be examining three aspects of both poems: the relationship between nature and art, the effect of female beauty on nature, and the reference to the Garden of Eden.
In these poems, Spenser and Marvell take their reader on a journey through various landscapes and sceneries, each of which bears a different meaning and contributes to the implication of the plot. These works are not only adventurous, but are also instructional, both for the characters and for the reader. Spenser uses the imagery of gardens and buildings with the intention of reflecting “Renaissance pictorial and architectural display. His architecture and his horticulture are presented precisely and symbolically while his untamed forests, his thickets, plains, and pastures remain vague (if no less symbolic).” Both nature and art are prominent in Spenser’s work, and they both serve the same symbolical purpose. “The generall end therefore of all the booke,” writes Spenser in his letter to Sir Walter Raleigh, which accompanied the first edition of The Faerie Queene, “is to fashion a gentleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline.” Hence, it is intended to educate in a honorable and creditable fashion worthy of a good Christian. The same religious character and intention can be found in Marvell’s poetry. Joseph Summers states that in Marvell’s “poems nature apart from man is usually ‘green,’ vital, fecund, and triumphant. Since it affirms life it is, as part of the divine plan, ‘good,’ but its goodness is neither available nor quite comprehensible to man…Since his alienation with the departure from Eden, man can only live in nature either as its observer or its destroyer.” That might be one of the reasons why man starts imitating nature. In “Upon Appleton House,” however, there is one person who is not only observing nature, but is also capable of adding to its beauty. Still, Marvell, like Spenser, uses natural imagery to express his view of history and religion.
The first point of comparison in these two poems is the relationship between nature and art, and its implications for society. Nature and art are often personified to emphasize the tension that exists between them. In Book II of The Faerie Queene, the Bower of Bliss is an artful place that has imitated nature to the extent that it might seem real, but the author gives clear hints as to its artifice:
Thus being entred, they behold around
A large and spacious plaine, on every side
Strowed with pleasauns, whose faire grassy ground
Mantled with green, and goodly beautifide
With all the ornaments of Floraes pride,
Wherewith her mother Art, as halfe in scorne
Of niggard Nature, like a pompous bride
Did decke her, and too lavishly adorne,
When forth from virgin bowre she comes in th’early morne. (II, vii, 50)
This stanza starts off with a picturesque description of the plain, but as the lines progress it becomes clear that it is not the work of “Nature,” but that it is “mother Art” who has beautified it all “too lavishly.” Nature is cast off as a “niggard” by Art, and she has made the plain look like a “pompous bride,” which, eventually, is too much of a good thing. Another scene of conflict between nature and art can be found in stanza 59:
One would have thought (so cunningly, the rude,
And scornèd parts were mingled with the fine)
That nature had for wantonesse ensued
Art, and that Art at nature did repine;
So striving each th’other to undermine,
Each did the others worke more beautifie;
So diff’ring both in willes, agreed in fine:
So all agreed through sweete diversitie,
This Garden to adorne with all varietie. (II, vii)
Nature and Art seem to be competing to see who the best creator is, but as a result of this battle, no one notices the “rude and scornèd part” that are “mingled with the fine.” Although they are not of the same mind, they end up agreeing in “sweete diversitie.” In the place where, fundamentally, nature should rule, there is a mixture of nature and art, and it is not clear where one starts and the other ends. All creatures and objects in this garden “like” something from nature, “as if” they belong there and “seem” authentic, but they merely “resemble” the natural world. Words like these dominate this passage of the Bower of Bliss, and with these Spenser hints at the corruption of art, the unnatural, the ungodly.
In the opening lines of “Upon Appleton House,” Marvell contrasts the natural character of the Fairfax house with the works of “foreign Architect[s]” (l. 2). Nature rules this house which is not ostentatious, but a place where “all things are composed…Like Nature, orderly and near” (ll. 25-6). In stanza 2, Marvell compares human architecture to natural design:
Why should of all things man unruled
Such unproportioned dwellings build?
The beasts are by their dens exprest,
And birds contrive an equal nest;
The low-roofed tortoises do dwell
In cases fit of tortoise-shell:
No creature loves an empty space;
Their bodies measure out their place.
Like the builders of the Tower of Babel, man is trying to surpass the work of God, and “thinks by breadth the world t’unite” (l. 24). The first group, of course, failed miserably in their mission, and God punished them for thinking they could measure up to Him. Consequently, nature, God’s creation, is superior to human art. Marvell too, personifies nature and art in his poem:
But Nature here hath been so free
As if she said, Leave this to me.
Art would more neatly have defaced
What she had laid so sweetly waste;
In fragrant gardens, shady woods,
Deep meadows, and transparent floods. (st. 10)
If she gets the chance, Art will defile Natures work in “gardens,” “woods,” “meadows” and “floods,” but not none of this happens at the Fairfax estate. Like Spenser, Marvell depicts nature as “good” and art as generally “bad,” but whereas Marvell’s nature is able to stand against the forces of art, Spenser’s nature has to compromise with the dominating character of art.
The second point of comparison is the effect of female beauty on her natural surroundings. In the first book of The Faerie Queene, Una’s beauty is revealed every time she removes the veil from her face:
Her angels face
As the great eye of heaven shynèd bright,
And made a sunshine in the shadie place;
Did never mortall eye behold such heavenly grace. (I, iii, 4)
It seems that even the sun is affected by Una’s “angels face” as it lights up the “shadie place” where Una is resting. When a “ramping Lyon” (l. 38) rushes “out of the thickest wood” (l. 37) obviously intending to devour her, he too is amazed at her sight and instead of attacking her, the beast kisses “her wearie feet” (l. 46). The lion, the king of the animal kingdom, surrenders to Una, and decides to protect her on her journey. This wild creature from the forest rejects his innate nature when he comes face to face with this “heavenly grace.” Later, in canto 6, Una is rescued from Sans Lou by a group of “wyld woodgods” (l. 73) who “stand astonied at her beautie bright, | In their rude eyes unworthie of so wofull plight” (ll. 80-1). They too “kisse her feete” (l. 108) and “worship her, as Queene,” but when she tries to put a stop to their idolatry of her, “they her Asse would worship fayn” (l. 171). Even though these mystical creatures do not represent nature in this poem, they do show the same natural reaction as nature to her beauty and grace. In a similar way, Mary Fairfax affects her natural surroundings in Marvell’s poem. At the end of the poem, writes Andrew Sanders, “[t]here is a firm return to the idea embodied by the house and its a occupants as Fairfax’s daughter is presented as the auspicious restorer of a limited earthly paradise, much as her father may still be to the country at large”:
‘Tis she that to these gardens gave
That wondrous beauty which they have;
She straightness on the woods bestows;
To her the meadow sweetness owes;
Nothing could make the river be
So crystal-pure but only she;
She yet more pure, sweet, straight, and fair,
Than gardens, woods, meads, rivers are.
Therefore what first she on them spent,
They gratefully again present:
The meadow, carpets where to tread;
The garden, flow’rs to crown her head;
And for her glass, the limpid brook,
Where she may all her beauties look;
But, since she would not have them seen,
The wood about her draws a screen. (st. 87-88)
Nature is exalted throughout the poem, but Mary’s beauty even exceeds the natural beauty of Nunappleton. In fact, she is the cause of “that wondrous beauty,” and like the kingfisher, she “Admiring Nature does benumb” (l. 672); that is, she controls the elements around her. Both Mary and Una try to hide their appearances from the outside world, probably because they know the power that lies in it. It is not only the outward beauty of these women that the poets are concerned with; their inward beauty reveals that they are indeed moderate and excellent creatures.
Both Spenser and Marvell make use of historical and biblical allegories to put a deeper meaning in their poetry, and each of them draws on the image of Paradise, the third point of comparison, to expose the sinfulness of man. Sanders explains the role of nature (and art) in Spenser’s allegories: “Where Spenser’s landscapes tend to be generalized, his buildings are solid and spatially imagined and his formal gardens are ordered and ornamentally planted. Each is the occasion of a knightly sojourn, temptation, distraction, or recuperation, but each also helps to stabilize the foundations from which the poem’s allegory rises.” The description of the Bower of Bliss seems to recall that of the Garden of Eden before the fall of man:
The joyous birds shrouded in chearefull shade,
Their notes unto the voice attempred sweet;
Th’Angelicall soft trembling voyces made
To th’instruments divine respondence meet;
With the base murmere of the waters fall:
The waters fall with difference discreet,
Now soft, now loud, unto the wind did call:
The gentle warbling wind low answerèd to all. (II, xii, 71)
Looks, however, can be deceiving, and they certainly are in this case. The following stanza depicts Acrasia in the middle of the bower, enjoying an immoral life:
There, whence that Musick seemèd heard to bee,
Was the faire Witch here selfe now solacing,
With a New Lover, whom through sorceree
And witchcraft, she from farre did thither bring:
There she had him now layd a slombering,
In secret shade, after long wanton joyes:
Whilst round about them pleasauntly did sing
Many faire Ladies, and lascivious boyes,
That ever mixt their song with light licentious toyes. (II, xii, 72)
Paradise is corrupted by sin, but its deceiving appearances might be appealing to onlookers. However, Sir Guyon, the knight of Temperance, is able to see through this deception, and destroys the Bower of Bliss:
But all those pleasant bowres and Pallace brave,
Guyon broke downe, with rigour pittilesse;
Ne ought their goodly workmanship might save
Them from the tempest of his wrathfulnesse,
But that their blisse he turn’d to balefulnesse:
Their groves he feld, their gardins did deface,
Their arbers spoyle, their Cabinets suppresse,
Their banket houses burne, their buildings race,
And of the fairest late, now made the fowlest place. (II, xii, 83)
The artificial nature in the garden is destroyed by Guyon, and there can be no mistake about the allegory here: when practising temperance and self-control, man can overcome lust and desire. Marvell’s garden is not artificial, but it has been tainted by sin as much as Spenser’s:
O thou, that dear and happy isle
The garden of the world ere while,
Thou Paradise of four seas,
Which Heaven planted us to please,
But, to exclude the world, did guard
With wat’ry if not flaming sword;
What luckless apple did we taste,
To make us mortal, and thee waste? (st. 41)
This stanza actually contains two allegories; a biblical one referring to the lost Paradise, the Garden of Eden (which is now guarded with a “flaming sword,” as a consequence of human sin), and a historical one referring to that “dear and happy isle” of fallen England, devastated by the Civil War as a result of Thomas Fairfax’s retirement as gardener of this paradise. Like The Faerie Queene, this poem points to the devastating results of a sinful life, but where the Bower of Bliss is destroyed, Nunappleton remains “Heaven’s Center, Nature’s Lap, | And Paradise’s only Map” (ll. 767-8).
In summary, Edmund Spenser describes a competitive relationship between nature and art in The Faerie Queene in which art seems to have the upper hand, but where nature is depicted as “good.” Andrew Marvell, on the other hand, draws a picture of a very “natural” art at Nunappleton, where nature is victorious over art. Further, external and internal female beauty, embodied in Una and Mary Fairfax, affect the natural surroundings. Both women represent grace, and nature can only react in one way: with worship and submission. Finally, Spenser’s Garden of Eden is an illusion of artificial nature trying to imitate Paradise while it is in fact its antipode, while Marvell’s fallen Paradise is resurrected on that small piece of Thomas Fairfax’s land. Ultimately, these poems reveal that the line between “nature as what is given, the universal order of creation” and “art as what is made, what man makes” is a very thin one.
Marvell’s Gardens: A Reading of The Mower Against Gardens and The Garden
For both “The Mower Against Gardens” and “The Garden”, the primary terms in opposition are the same: the world of nature, the world of men. The former is a realm of leisure, the latter of ceaseless, pointless toil. And yet the status granted to the garden in one poem is directly contrary to that granted in the other: for “The Mower Against Gardens”, the garden is the locus of human labor (and perversion), it is at the heart of the world of men. The scene of “The Garden,” by contrast, is one of leisure, solitude, and nature’s fecundity. The relationship between the two poems is more complicated than the mere opposition suggested by their titles: while the terms of the argument are constant between them, the value granted them shifts; the status of labor, leisure, and nature is different in each. Also different, I will argue, is the tone of the poems: one seems earnest in its argument, while the other is self-mocking.
The argument of “The Mower Against Gardens” falls into three parts. The first (ll. 1-22) is by far the longest, and presents in its first sentence the opposed terms of its argument. In the very first word, we find the poem’s moral verdict:
Luxurious man, to bring his vice in use,
Did after him the world seduce,
And from the fields the flowers and plants allure,
Where nature was most plain and pure.
On one hand is “Luxurious man”; on the other, “world”, “Fields…flowers and plants”, and “nature.” The terms of condemnation are bald (“Luxurious,” “vice”), but the statement of the offense is more subtle: it is not the practice of man’s vice that corrupts the world, but rather his determination to “seduce” the world to follow his vice, his need to make nature into a mirror for himself. This is a familiar moralizing argument: the real danger of vice is not individual practice, but rather the transmission of that practice to others. In this passage, such transmission occurs through careful perversion of the environment (“And a more luscious earth for them did knead, / Which stupefied them”), and its effects are precisely as desired: “The pink grew then as double as his mind” – the tainted man can see his image in the world he has made around him. “Double” is a curious adjective, implying self-division, inner conflict, a straining against nature: aspects of man’s state after the Fall (the earliest Christian word for the post-lapsarian state makes clear this aspect: dipsychia, double-souledness).
The examples of perversion presented in lines 9-18 concern accidental rather than essential properties: scent, color, and value in terms of both money and labor. The examples found in lines 11-14 aim their condemnation at specifically female (and perhaps largely courtly) acts of self-adornment: “perfume”, “paint”, “interline its cheek”. (I take the last in the sense of the OED’s fifth definition, “To mark with lines, esp. of various colours”; the texts cited are comfortably 17th-century.) This is the first instance of an argumentative thread common to both poems, and which is especially strong in “The Garden”: a reviling of sexual pursuit and the (non-auto) erotic life. Lines 15-19 turn from personal vanity to economic waste: a meadow sold for a tulip, the toil and risk of exploration for “the Marvel of Peru” (the discovery of “another world” is merely a happy coincidence).
A shift occurs in line 19 (“And yet”), beginning the second section of the poem (to line 31). Lines 19-22 make a conciliatory gesture, and then dramatically intensify the poem’s condemnation:
And yet these rarities might be allowed
To man, that sovereign thing and proud,
Had he not dealt between the bark and tree,
Forbidden mixtures there to see.
If in the first movement of the poem there is a sense of perversion, a willful straying from nature, with line 22 a new sense of transgression is introduced. “Forbidden” implies not only moral laxity or lapse; it implies law, a concrete statute, the breaking of which invokes punishment from an authority higher than man, however “sovereign”. Unlike the adornments of lines 9-18, which concern only the addition or alteration of accidental properties, in lines 21-30 it is the essence of things that is altered, with ensuing chaos: “No plant now knew the stock from which it came; / He grafts upon the wild the tame.” This transgression, the result of which is a loss of origins, is made more grievous because it is frivolous, intended not even to delight “the palate”, but merely to “put [it] in dispute”. Not even pleasure governs man’s appetite; novelty is all. With the entrance of “his green seraglio” there is a suggestion not only of the exotic but of the heathen; man’s perversion has become a religious transgression.
With the new terms of the argument, however, the poem has backed itself into a corner. With the transgression of law must come punishment, and none seems forthcoming. Indeed, man seems able to fulfill his wishes (however empty) in their entirety: he’s perfectly capable of vexing nature (l.29), and the word “forbidden”, so effective at heightening the force of the poem’s invective, begins to ring hollow. The poem responds to this dilemma by shifting its strategy entirely; in its third and final section, from line 31, the poem turns from damning the world of men to praising the world of nature, and the implied terms of disparagement switch from condemnation to pity. Man needn’t work so hard for satisfaction; in “the sweet fields”, “willing Nature does to all dispense / A wild and fragrant innocence.” If he gave over his perverse love of the exotic, man would find his needs met almost entirely without toil: “And fauns and fairies do the meadows till / More by their presence than their skill.” Finally, man’s punishment is one of self-imposed deprivation; however beautiful his creations, they lack real substance: “howsoe’er the figures do excel, / The Gods themselves with us do dwell.”
The beginning of “The Garden” seems to take up this argument seamlessly: “How vainly men themselves amaze / To win the palm, the oak, or bays.” Again, the inutility of labor is denigrated in favor of the leisured enjoyment of nature: the little crowns won by man’s great effort can’t even provide adequate shade, while “all flowers and all trees do close / To weave the garlands of repose.” Like the mower poem, “The Garden” follows a three-part structure. In the first four stanzas, the virtues of the garden are proved through comparison with the trials (and supposed pleasures) of the world of men. As he compares the two worlds, the speaker seems to fully inhabit neither, and his praise of the garden is mitigated, in the second stanza, by doubt: “Fair Quiet, have I found thee here, / And Innocence, thy sister dear?” In the very stanza that should establish the garden’s virtues, the speaker can’t even be certain that those virtues exist: “Your sacred plants, if here below, / Only among the plants will grow.”
As in “The Mower Against Gardens”, the polemic has a sexual edge; in the third and fourth stanzas the pleasures of (human) erotic pursuit are found decidedly wanting when compared to the pleasures of the garden. Importantly, though, the pleasures compared are of a kind: “No white nor red was ever seen / So amorous as this lovely green.” The erotic is not rejected in “The Garden”, but merely takes a different (and decidedly odd) object: “Fair trees, wheresoe’er your barks I wound, / No name shall but your own be found.” This conceit provides the poem with its finest display of wit: far from foiled by the metamorphoses of their quarry, Apollo and Pan were after the plants all along. It also, however, leads the poem into the second section (the three stanzas from l. 33), which disrupts the speaker’s former credibility by introducing elements that make “The Garden” a poem impossible to read straight.
The three stanzas of the second section address the pleasures of the body, the mind, and the soul as they are gratified in the garden. “What wondrous life is this I lead!” the speaker exults: there’s no longer any trace of the uncertainty found in the poem’s second stanza, nor is there any presence – even rhetorically – of the world outside the garden. As with the “sweet fields” of the earlier poem, gratification requires little or no action on the part of the speaker:
Ripe apples drop about my head;
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach…
Already this seems suspect: “luscious” was a word of denigration in the mower poem, and what’s described here isn’t easeful subsistence, but rather gluttony. The final lines of the stanza clarify the detrimental effects: “Stumbling on melons, as I pass, / Insnared with flowers, I fall on grass.” The negative cast of the following stanzas becomes even starker: in stanza six, the mind “Withdraws into its happiness”, rejecting the possibility of interaction with the real world (“The mind, that ocean where each kind / Does straight its own resemblance find”) for an entirely imagined creation. Lest we think this a salutary use of the imagination, the poem underscores it as destructive: “Annihilating all that’s made / To a green thought in a green shade.” Even as the soul is transformed into a singing bird in stanza seven, the pointlessness of the speaker’s leisure is as pronounced as the inutility of labor in the mower poem: “And, till prepared for longer flight, / Waves in its plumes the various light.” One is correct, I think, in doubting the advent of this “longer flight”; the movement from body to soul has been less an ascension than a stupor.
Having arrived at the soul, the only intensification possible in the poem’s third section (from stanza 9) is a gesture to Paradise. The retreat to the garden is a rejection of the entire world and society, and what is presented as a validating gesture defeats itself – the state of satisfaction (or stupor) of the speaker is doomed to be short-lived, as it presumes a greater privilege than is granted to “a mortal’s share”. (By so entirely rejecting society, this stanza extends the poem’s striking anti-erotic posture: were man truly perfect, even in a prelapsarian state, he would be allowed full autonomy, free from the cloying necessities of sex and procreation; nor would he desire any Miltonic “apt and cheerful conversation”.) The poem’s closing stanza, with its image of the flower dial, underscores this fleetingness: “How could such sweet and wholesome hours / Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers?” Herbs and flowers are transient, quickly wilting things, unsustainable through seasons; the sojourn in the garden must be similarly transient.
It is tempting to see these two poems as an easy pair, with “The Garden” merely embodying those vices railed against by the mower. However, the relationship is not quite so neat. The poems’ speakers are not clear opposites: both feel an antipathy for the world of men, both denigrate a seemingly vain labor, and both praise the natural world (though it is important that the word “nature” does not appear in “The Garden”, while in the mower poem it is a capitalized entity). The gardens described in the poems (though both, as noted above, are “luscious”) are not precisely the same, and there’s no suggestion of innovation or labor in the fruits of “The Garden”: none is the product of grafting, none is imported from “another world”. Most importantly, “The Mower Against Gardens” seems to me a fundamentally earnest poem, lamenting a tendency to be dissatisfied with the common and known, and to prefer a profligate search for novelty. In its depiction of drunken stupor, and its acknowledgment of the unsustainability of its vision, on the other hand, “The Garden” takes on a tone of self-mockery.
The source of these differences may lie in the poems’ diverging conceptions of “labor” and “leisure”. The mower disparages needless scientific innovation, a vexing of nature with no real end; the speaker of “The Garden” dismisses poetry, sport, and civic duty (at least two of which we know to have been among Marvell’s endeavors). The leisure of the mower is not sloth: his very title indicates labor, and the ease granted by “willing nature” is not gluttony but an effort harmonious with nature, toward necessary ends. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the pitch of the poems’ rejection of the world of men is decidedly different. The mower rejects the social world not in the abstract, but in its particular incarnation; there’s nothing in “a wild and fragrant innocence” that requires solitude, and the mower seems to long for the repopulation of “the sweet fields [that] lie forgot.” The speaker in “The Garden”, by contrast, desires an utter break with society, a rejection of all labor and all duty. The tone of the poem and the ridiculousness of its drunkenly stumbling speaker, I think, deflate the desirability of so perfect a severance from the human world.
“The Picture of Little Tc in a Prospect of Flowers” in the Context of Marvell’s Methods and Motifs
The Journal of English Literary History indicates that ‘‘The picture of little T.C. in a prospect of Flowers’ is characteristic of Marvell’s poetry both in its complexity and in its subtle use of superficially ‘romantic’ or decorative detail’. The degree in which Marvell uses detail and figurative poetic symbols to portray common concerns throughout his poetry is what has elevated him to legendary status. These concerns that are discussed, and particularly highlighted within ‘The picture of little T.C. in a prospect of Flowers’ are; the loss of innocence, and the fall of man from prelapsarian world. Moreover, to portray these ideas, Marvell uses the poetic method of floral imagery in order for readers to gain a sense of natural wonder and hopelessness.
To begin ‘The Picture of Little T.C. in a Prospect of Flowers’, Marvell uses the metaphor of the a ‘nymph’ to describe a little girl, believed to be Theophilia Cornewell. This introduces the theme of innocence from the outset as within the phrase ‘This nymph begins’, the imagery of an ancient tree creature is created, and T.C. is given a certain godliness. Moreover, the use of the word ‘nymph’ implies virginity and purity as the beautiful nature that these creatures inhabit has been left untouched by the evil Gods. The use of ‘nymph’ imagery is particularly fitting in the ‘green grass she loves to lie’, as not only does Marvell create the sense of a pure being, roaming a garden with little to care about. He also uses alliteration of the euphonious ‘g’ to lull the reader into a sense of calm. This theme harks back to one of Marvell’s original beliefs, that of the Platonic view of an untouched soul. Little T.C. in stanza one represents the soul that exists in the world of the forms, in the Christian case, heaven. We will soon realise, that as Barbara Everett suggests, the length of the title is perhaps ‘grander than the little girl to whom the poem devotes itself’
We learn, the evils of the world force the soul to lose it’s purity, much like the Platonic soul that becomes deformed when entering the world of the ‘Nouminas’ (humanity). Ian Ousby suggest that we are dealing with ‘a complicated contemplation of innocence’ and this is exemplified in the line ‘green grass she loves to lie’, as the inverted syntax of the sentence places ‘green’ as the subject. This could well refer to the snake that deceived Adam in the Garden of Eden, much like sexual desires are to deceive little T.C. into a world of dominance and impurity. Moreover, the sibilance throughout the line, further suggests the imminent loss of innocence to external desires. Finally, the ambiguity of the word ‘lie’ leads the reader to believe that this early innocence that is portrayed could well be a front, exemplified by ‘Let me be laid’ in Stanza 3.
This idea, loss of innocence is seen portrayed in ‘The Nymph Complaining for the Death of her Faun’ through similar depictions. In this poem, the speaker is a nymph lamenting the death of her fawn. It begins similarly, with the nymph crying out that a band of ‘wanton troopers’ have shot her fawn ‘and it will die.’ She notes that the fawn never did these men any harm. Much like in ‘…little T.C…’ the fawn is described as a ‘pretty skipping grace’ in the garden, an image that creates the sense of a little child, galloping through a forrest clearing. Moreover, Marvell associates the nymph and her fawn with white, supposedly the colour of purity. This further depiction of innocence causes us to further regret this loss of innocence when it is harshly trampled by the intrusion of men. This overall concern of innocence that is discussed so frequently in Marvell’s poetry, and exemplified by the nymph’s description of the fawn’s calmness and innocence in her garden could well resonate with his views on Charles I as he faced his executioner, a man, facing the ultimate loss of innocence.
Marvell’s concern with innocence is heavily tied to his concern of the fall of man from prelapsarian world. Joseph H Summers indicated that ‘The picture of little T.C. in a Prospect of Flowers is not a graceful trifle which somehow got wrong. It is a fine poem and it elucidates Marvell’s central vision of man and nature’. This can be vividly seen in two distinct pieces of imagery. Firstly, the idea that ‘her golden days’ were before the outward interruptions of hedonistic pleasures such as the quest for ‘triumph over hearts’. This picture seems to allude heavily to life before the fall of man. The Garden of Eden was indeed free from desire and devilish pleasures that are consistently depicted throughout Marvell’s poetry, particularly in ‘A dialogue between the resolved soul and created pleasures’. This prelapsarian world view is further depicted through ‘gives them names’, where T.C. is going through the garden naming the ‘wilder flowers’. This is much like the taxonomy that Adam gifted through the naming of all the flowers in the Garden of Eden, a symbol of the immense knowledge that God gifted to him before the fall, as opposed to the weak epistemology that we are afforded now. The overall effect of the imagery of prelapsarian life is to suggest the immense struggles of hedonism, and lack of purpose that we must deal with today in a world where in reality, deontology, and the following of the ‘word of God’ should reign supreme.
Further references to the fall of man are found throughout Marvell’s poetry, particularly in ‘The Garden’ and ‘Bermudas’. As Frank Kermode suggests, the title of ‘The Garden’ – alludes to ‘the earthly paradise’, more commonly, the Garden of Eden. From this, Marvell continues by painting the image of abundance and opulence that can be found through the pastoral poetry in stanza 5. Namely, through descriptions of ‘Ripe apples’ that ‘drop about my head’. This not only exemplifies the beauty and perfection of ‘ripe’ apples, but the ‘drop’ that follows when we try to take advantage of the lords perfection. Moreover, in ‘Bermudas’, the small island exemplifies paradise on earth, that could only be reached during the prelapsarian era. The notion that the island ‘throws the melons at our feet’ further suggests the opulence perfection of the Garden of Eden before the apple of knowledge was stolen. The overall effect being the anguish of humans at our inability to achieve the ‘heaven on earth’ that was once felt in the time of Adam.
Finally, a common poetic theme used throughout Marvell’s work is metaphors, portrayed through various flowers. In “The Picture of Little TC in a Prospect of Flowers”, we are told that it is ‘only with the roses’ that T.C. ‘plays’. The significance of the rose is that it i symbolises love, affection and beauty. For example, in Emily Bronte’s “A Little Budding Rose,” the poet compares the rose to love. It is a common poetic technique that has the effect in this poem of suggesting that soon T.C. will be playing with the hearts of men, much like she plays with the roses. Moreover, the metaphors drawn from flowers is seen in ‘The Mower Against The Gardens’ where ‘The tulip white did for complexion seek. Here the tulip is an unnecessary accessory, this is because tulips are pretty but without a scent. Whereas Corinthians 2:15 suggests that we need a scent, ‘an aroma of life’, thus, it is an analogy for life’s needless desires. Therefore, the effect of the reference is to add significant metaphorical depth to Marvell’s poetry.
“The Picture of Little TC in a Prospect of Flowers” provides an excellent reference to many of Marvell’s key concerns throughout his poetic career. Most notably is his concern for the loss of innocence, particularly in children such as Theophilia Cornewell. Moreover, the idea of a prelapsarian world is discussed throughout Marvell’s work, and ‘… Little TC …’ is no exception as it contributes through imagery of a ‘golden age’. Finally, Marvell’s poetic method of the depiction of flowers is exemplified thought the ‘roses’ in which T.C. is personified.
Carpe Diem: Wooing Lovers During the Renaissance (a Close Reading of Poetry)
Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” and Andrew Marvell’s “To his Coy Mistress” offer powerful examples of sensual, carpe diem Renaissance poetry. In both poems, the poet-speakers attempt to spur their beloveds into action through various compliments and rhythmic patterns that create a hurried tone. However, the speakers’ tactics diverge at this point. Marlowe’s poet-speaker focuses on an abstract pastoralist hypothetical peppered with innuendo in an attempt to gain his love’s affections. In contrast, Marvell’s speaker takes a much more explicit and logical approach as he bemoans the consequences of their delayed union and urges his lover to waste no time in consummating their relationship. Ultimately, both poet-speakers focus on carpe diem as a tool to persuade their perspective lovers.
Marlowe’s poet-speaker, the shepherd, sets the poem’s sensuous and rushed tone in the first two lines, saying “Come live with me and by my love / and we will all the pleasures prove” (1-2). Within these lines, the shepherd uses the imperative tense to show the direness of his affections as well as vague innuendo in the word “pleasures” to create an element of sensuality. Likewise, by speaking in iambic tetrameter, the lines flow into a fast-paced rhyme, creating a tension in the poem, as if time is of the essence. This technique helps cement the presence of carpe diem within the poem. The poet-speaker finishes this quatrain by describingthe physical setting, speaking in pastoral terms as he introduces the “valleys, groves, hills, and fields” (3). As pastoral settings, in the Romantic tradition, are often meant toevoke the sublime (or the beautiful, which is not the same thing), the poet-speaker uses the physical features of the landscape hereto create a scene of peaceful serenity in which his love might be won over.
In conjunction with the rhythmic elements of the poem, Marlowe’s poet-speaker emphasizes the joy of living in the moment. In contrast to the first quatrain, the shepherd steps back in the second by speaking about simple pleasures. Promising his love that they “will sit upon the rocks, / Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks, / By shallow rivers to whose falls / Melodious birds sing madrigals,” the poet-speaker paints an idyllic picture for his mistress (5-8). This tactic also ties the mistress to the serene landscape that has already been described. Thepoet-speaker’s slow speaking pattern, emphasized in theenjambment oflines 7 and, elongates thephrases of this section and hides the iambic tetrameter’s underlying tension. As the poem progresses, the poet-speaker’shypotheticals become hyperbolic. The shepherd tells his mistress that “ …I will make thee beds of roses / And a thousand fragrant posies, / A cap of flowers, and a kirtle / Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle” (9-12). As the poet-speaker’s gifts become more outlandish, his speaking becomes markedly faster. The comma in line 11 quickens the poem’s pace, creating the appearance that the shepherd is quickly reciting a list of various gifts. While hyperbolic, the fast pace creates an illusion that the gifts are real. Moreover, feminine rhyme marks the quatrain, creating a lullaby effect for the reader. The speaker continues this list for two more quatrains, elongating some of the gifts, such as “A gown made of the finest wool / Which from our pretty lambs we pull” in lines 12 and 13, before returning to fast-paced recall, as seen with “A belt of straw and ivy buds” (17). The use of “we” and “our” in line 13 exemplifies the poet-speaker’s future desire that, one day, he and his love will be together.
However, in the nature of carpe diem, the shepherd hopes that he and his loverwill be united in the present. The poet-speaker’s lavish hyperbolic musingsend with a plea for a concrete idea: “come with me, and be my love” (20). It is with this line that the poet-speaker comes full circle, with the final quatrain resorting to more pastoral fantasies and finishing with a repeated “Then live with me and be my love” (24). This repetition of his desire entwined with wholesome pastoral images allows the poet-speaker to slow the pace of his speech and place extra emphasis on his desires, as he hopes his love will help him seize the day.
In stark contrast, Marvell’s poet-speaker steps away from Marlowe’s future hypotheticals and hyperbole to take a strictercarpe diem approach. Instead of offering his love multitudes of gifts in the future, the speaker gives context to the present situation, saying “Had we but world enough, and time, / This coyness, lady, were no crime” (1-2). Spokenin iambic tetrameter, the poet-speaker gets to the heart of the carpe diem mentality by bemoaning that, while he would love to give his mistress time to consider his advances, inevitable death is fast approaching. The speaker continues by creating a hypothetical grounded in the present. Marvell’s speaker talks of how they “would sit down, and think which way / to walk” (3-4), using this conditional phrase as a metaphor for his love deciding if she should reciprocate his feelings. This word choice shows a consolidation on the part of the speaker, giving an impression of hurry. The poet-speaker continues by saying he would wait “till the conversion of the Jews,” (10) a reference to the apocalypse, for her to decide, and allow his “vegetable love” (11) to grow stronger. However, his hyperbole shows that this is impossible, as time is quickly running out. This hyperbolic hypothetical gives way to the poet-speaker’s true intentions.
While Marlowe’s poet-speaker is subtle with his more erotic intentions, Marvell’s openly lusts. During the eternity his mistress ponders his advances, the poet-speaker talks of the two hundred years he would spend “to adore each breast, / But thirty thousand to the rest” (15-16). While the poet insists on loving every part of his love, the inclusion of her breasts in conjunction with “thine eyes” and “thy forehead” (14) shows his predilection forher erogenous parts. The poet digresses from his preoccupation with the physical when he personifies time, saying, “But at my back I always hear / Time’s winged chariot hurrying near,” bringing his speech back to the present (21-22). In place of the flowery fantasies with which the poet-speaker beginsthe poem, he heretells his love about the reality of death. In doing so, the speaker goes into a grotesque sexualized account of what will become of his loveafter her death. He states that “Thy beauty shall no more be found, / Nor, in thy marble vault shall sound / My echoing song; then worms shall try / That long preserved virginity, / And your quaint honor turn to dust” (25-29). The speaker puts forth a carpe diem-esqe false dichotomy: if I cannot take your virginity, it will be left for the worms. This harsh move from images of winged chariots and eternal adoration to death’s realities is the poet-speaker’s way of showing his mistress why they must always live in the present.
While Marlowe’s shepherd lobbied his love with allusions to futurerewards, Marvell’s poet-speaker speaks to her physicality in a much more erotic and immediate manner. Stepping away from any romantic appeal, the poet-speaker says,“Let us roll all our strength and all / our sweetness up into one ball, / and tear our pleasures with rough strife” (41-44). In contrast to the subjective concepts of“time” and “romance,” the poet-speaker tries to coax hismistress into physical action. While the speaker knows that he cannot defeat time, he enlists his mistress to help him experience something tangible that may distract themfrom their impending deaths. Though both Marlowe and Marvell’s poet-speakers make grand speeches to coax their respective lovers into action, they take different approaches to the notion of carpe diem. Both achieve a formal and thematic tension through the use of hyperbole and the structures of iambic tetrameter, but Marlowe’s speaker attempts to woohis lover with fantasies and gifts, while Marvell’s focuses on the immediately physical and erotic. This comparisonfacilitates a debate betweentwo separate claims on the nature oflove, on whether it is most passionate when dreamed of as a theoretical, serene union in the future or when eroticallyrealized in the physical present.
The Concept Of Carpe Diem In Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress And Herrick’s To The Virgins, To Make Much Of Time
“To His Coy Mistress” was written by Andrew Marvell, an English poet and satirist in the 1650s. The poem is a well organized poem that has 46 lines formed into a single stanza, split into three sections. “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” is written by Robert Herrick, it was published as number 208 in 1648 in a volume of verse Hesperides, it may be one of the most famous poems to praise the conception of Carpe diem. It has 16 lines and is structured into four stanzas. Both these poems represent the Carpe diem theme. Carpe diem is Latin for “seize the day”. The theme may be summarized as: “Time is fleeting, so act decisively to enjoy yourself” or “Make most of the present time, put very little trust in tomorrow”. It was popular in love poems of the 16th and 17th century where a male speaker usually tries to convince a female to grasp the opportunity for love.
The poem “To His Coy Mistress” is about the efforts of a man towards insisting on his lover’s affection; the unnamed “coy mistress” refuses to sleep with the gentleman in question, and the gentleman’s reaction is to tell her that, had he sufficient time, he may want to spend entire centuries admiring her beauty and her innocence; however, human life is short, he does not have this time, and so they should enjoy each other now while they still have the time, as no-one in loss of life can embody or sense pleasure. Through loving one another, they could make the maximum of their short time on earth, and as a consequence make something of themselves on earth. “To His Coy Mistress” celebrates beauty, youth and sexual pleasure. It uses the concept of Carpe diem because in spite or the fact that he envisions a lavishly moderate love that takes a few years to arrive at fulfillment, he realizes a wonder such as this is inconceivable: he will die before it tends to be accomplished. Death can’t be deferred or defeated; The main reaction to death, as indicated by the speaker, is to enjoy as much as one could before it comes. He encourages the lady he adores not to pause, to appreciate the joys of existence without restriction. The speaker issues the matter of the speeding of time and necessity to intensify the pleasures of mortal life.
“To The Virgins, To Make Much Of Time” starts with the speaker expressing that a lady ought to do all that she can while she is youthful to exploit the adoration others will want to give her. She will be progressively valued while she is youthful and wonderful. Consequently, she should “Gather ye rose-buds while ye may” or the things in life she needs before time dominates. Once “Time” has marked her, she will be lost to the upbeat conceivable outcomes of life. In the last segments the speaker straightforwardly tells his female audience members that they have to wed at the earliest opportunity. There is no time to squander being demure as one will wind up alone. In the poem, the speaker urges virgins to seize the day and to exploit their youth. He reveals to them that, similar to the rose, their beauty and youth is temporary, and they ought to profit by it while they can. The speaker expresses Carpe Diem when he cautions the virgins that time will walk on whether they need it to or not, so they should appreciate the finest periods of their lives. Marvell, the author of “To His Coy Mistress” approaches the Carpe diem theme with a mix of whimsical fancy and passionate urgency. Herrick “To The Virgins, To Make Much Of time” delivers a more traditional version of the theme, using familiar imagery to depict the passing seasons.
To conclude, “To His Coy Mistress” conveys the concepts of Carpe diem effectively. Using the theme, time, he persuades his mistress that she should seize the opportunity of having sensual relations with him. “Now therefore, while the youthful hue/sits on thy skin like morning dew, And while thy willing soul transpires/ At every pore with instant fires, now let us sport us while we may”. To justify his argument, he states if she doesn’t indulge in sensual enjoyment she will eventually die a virgin and worms will be the ones to take “that long- preserved” virginity”. “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” portrays the similar concept, the speaker sees time damaging to women and that women should do everything they can while their looks and beauty are still young. He expresses that it’s within the period of youth a woman is most precious. It is that amount of time she ought to profit of.
About Andrew Marvell – About Modern Childhood
Andrew Marvell’s “Ametas and Thestylis Making Hay Ropes” is an entertaining critique of the limitations in the 16th century. The oppression applied by the those who occupied power on literature had deeply influenced the characteristic of classic literature that is still being analyzed and as a result, poets needed to express their emotions on such matter by using a satiric and didactic tone. Likewise, Marvell achieved the same results in his symbolic poem addressed for a taboo within that time. Although the poem also has an entertainment purpose, Marvell combines the usage of the title, literary devices and a criticizing tone to produce an allegoric piece of poetry.
One of the ways that Marvell uses while trying to indicate his critique is at the very beginning, the title. The title of the poem seems narrowed down and basic at the first look; however, it gets more conveying as the poem itself is read. The title is “Ametas and Thestylis Making Hay Ropes” and it is based on an action that takes place with two different perspectives. Therefore, it indicates that a series of events is going to be taking place that leads to a conclusion, in other words, a message. On top of this fact, it has a historical significance implying his real aim on writing this poem. Ametas is one of the surnames that was originated in US, which means “a gift of God”. Marvell’s actual purpose of using this name is underlining the importance of sexuality in personal relationships by expressing it as a blessed gift of God, waiting to be used without any timidity. Another name symbolization that Marvell uses is Thestylis, which belongs to a Greek mythology character, a young female slave. This genuinely indicates how woman was seen in 16th century, as sexual objects. The poet criticizes this image of woman to create a condemn for the society for not raising a voice about it. Consequently, the title that Marvell uses is purposeful in terms of comprehending the actual goal of the poem.
Another way that Marvell uses is the literary devices, disguising him being spotted in terms of his criticizing manner against the power. Firstly, the poet uses allegories that helps the audience to interpret the situation that Marvell is referring to, rather than being lost within the poem. He uses the hay ropes binding, to address to connecting feature of physical love. This metaphor is conceived with the inspiration of their similarity on connections, hay ropes coiling to become a strong ropelike matter; whereas sex helping people to become one, feeling the intimacy within their relationship. Although the metaphor is palpable to see, Marvell does not directly correlate those two notions to prevent himself from getting caught. Secondly, the usage of ironies has a vital role in Marvell’s piece. Ironies create the juxtaposition with the contrasting perspectives of the poets, defending the freedom of sexuality; and the monarch, advocating the conservatism in the public, censoring sexuality. Both of the narratives constructing the dialogue possess a self-contradicting language that help to compare these aforementioned ideologies in a biased manner, exposing the reader to an idea of liberality in terms of sex. This aspect is the root of the irony that is being built in the poem. Briefly, several ironies can be seen in the poem, which try to compare two different visions.
Lastly, the most prevalent and apparent quality of the narrative that Marvell uses is the criticizing tone. This way of conveying themes and ideas had been a prevalent way in the 16th century due to the new ideologies being spread and as it is seen, Marvell secretly uses this tone to ensure that public is aware of what is going to on the deeper side, rather than only the surface. One example for the satiric tone would be the last couplet, saying “Then let’s both lay by our rope, – and go kiss within the hay”. This couplet criticizes the idea of “mandatory work” limiting the freedom of people, thus disallowing them from being fully dedicated to their work. He defends the feeling of deepness that a sexual connection provides, allowing a person to go deeper rather than staying just as a usual person; exploring the roots of humanity. Secondly, his tone also has a didactic characteristic, for this view of love in the world of conservatism. He depicts sex as a normal life habit that can be done even in the workplace, as Ametas offers to have a relationship in the hay. This way, Marvell aims to clear the wrong definition of sex from people’s minds, enabling them to express what they really feel. Shortly, the tone that the author has is mainly what makes this poem a critique.
In conclusion, numerous aspects give this poem the characteristics of a critique; such as the title, literary devices and the tone. Marvell mainly aims to inform the public about the suppression applied by the monarch even though he also has a purpose of entertaining the public with an extreme situation. The construction of this extreme situation is what creates the irony, the juxtaposition of the reality and the extreme. Without the criticizing tone, the audience could interpret the situation wrongly and the poem would be useless for the poet, Andrew Marvell. The main notion of this poem is exploring the limits set by those in power of the limitless life.
Analysis Of “The Flea” And “To His Coy Mistress”
In this essay I will discuss two poems, “The Flea” written by John Donne and “To His Coy Mistress,” written by Andrew Marvell. Both poems are written during the Renaissance Period during the early to mid-1600s by highly educated authors. Although not written to relate to or correspond with one another, the poems encompass a commonality in which the speaker in each poem is pursuing intimacy with their lover using different persuasion techniques. The authors use several hypothetical concepts within the language of their texts to provide critical arguments to the women that were denying what both speakers wanted, intimacy. In the poem “The Flea,” Donne uses humor and sort of a metaphysical love-scenario to capture the reader.
The speaker, also the man in the poem, uses the flea as a romantic tool to persuade his lover to make love to him. The flea first hops on the man, then to the woman, and since the flea contains the blood of both after being bitten, he mentions they have been made one by the flea. He proceeds with the idea that since the flea did not commit a sin by taking their blood, then why should they see making love as one?The man tries to prevent her from killing the flea because there is life of both her and him contained within it. If she were to kill the flea, then she would not only be taking a life, but also theirs. The author uses the flea, although an unsuspecting symbol, to relate romantic advances and love.
The woman, not agreeing with the man, kills the flea with her fingernail. In a counter to his loss in persuasion, the man then assures her that the death of the flea does not make them weaker, and that her honor would also not be weakened if such acts of intimacy were to occur between them. In “To His Coy Mistress,” Marvell uses seductive romanticism parallel with apparent sarcasm in the speaker’s advances. The speaker is a man who is trying to entice his virgin love to become intimate with him. He says to the woman that her ‘coyness’ or hesitance would be acceptable if they had infinite time for that. He believes they should take advantage of their sensuality while it lasts, and they are young. The man tells the woman that her virginity and beauty will only last while alive and would only be good to the worms thereafter. This persuasiveness to court her shows his self-sacrificing state when he states, “I would Love you ten years before the flood. ” He also fears the shortness of life, and that he will miss his chance with her as he reminds her that life is brief, and they must hurry before all is over. There are several metaphors that talk about death in this poem such as the worms, ashes, the grave, and the iron gates of life. The use of these metaphors appear to hold a dual meaning in this poem. Perhaps, if his words of romance and the shortness of their time do not work to persuade the woman, the vivid words may imply her fate. There is a morbidity within these metaphors creating an implication that he will not easily settle for rejection. Both speakers use effective language to in attempt to convince their lovers that they want an intimate relationship, but the women they are speaking to are refusing their requests. Donne’s character took a symbolic approach, primarily using the flea as his bargaining tool.
When he came to the realization that his seemingly clever approach was unsuccessful, he escalated his argument to emphasize on a highly valued importance among women during this time period, her honor. Marvell, on the other hand, used religion and romance to woo the woman that his speaker was pursuing. He uses romanticism when he suggests in a very direct manner that they should not waste any time, because time is limited, but to instead, “Let us roll all our strength and all Our sweetness up into one ball and tear our pleasures with rough strife. ” Additionally, religion is implied when the speaker references the flood, the conversion of the Jews, and again when referencing the iron gates of life as a method in proving his devotion to her. The authors both present their argument in a very different manner where Donne is representing his woman as having already lost blood from the flea, and Marvell is representing his woman as “coy” and essentially unfair or even cruel for denying him what he wants. The approach taken in “The Flea” does not portray a romantic value at all, instead the flea is a minuscule creature, a pest, and although the idea is a logical scenario, it doesn’t provide much of an emotional response. Marvell’s poem references his desire for her reciprocity in a communal partnership through words that describe his adoration for her. There are subsequently motives the authors use as defensive tactics in response to a knowingly potential negative outcome. For example, Donne’s character states, “mark but this flea, and mark in this, how little that which thou deniest me is. ” He is implicating that this is a minute circumstance in which it is natural, like the bite of the flea, and that yet she denies him her physical love.
Marvell speaks on the instance where if the woman keeps her virginity for an eternity, it will be enjoyed within her grave by the worms, what a waste of life it is to not enjoy what is in front of you, yet instead let nature eagerly benefit. Both authors provided valid statements in their poetry that effectively supported their arguments for the intended purpose. Both of the authors wrote on a scenario where the speaker is placing a lot of effort into achieving their goal. It is apparent that the successes may have not been as substantial as anticipated based on their individual arguments. The emotional, versus the lack of such input was a major difference between the two poems. Marvell’s character expressed his needs in order to continue his devotion to his love, and Donne’s did not provide much more than a flea as a foundation toward a partnership that may be exclusively an isolated instance.
Andrew Marvell’s to His Coy Mistress: Light-Hearted Attitude Towards Life and Love
Strong Lines in Poetry by the Metaphysical Poets
This essay focusses on two Renaissance poems: ‘The Flea’ by John Donne and ‘To His Coy Mistress’ by Andrew Marvell. These two poems are quite similar as they both are written from the point of view of a speaker, and are conversations with a mistress who is reluctant to lose her virginity. Both poems are in three clear stages, however ‘To His Coy Mistress’ is a syllogism whilst ‘The Flea’ is not.
A witty argument runs through ‘The Flea’. In the first stage of this poem, the speaker is telling his mistress to notice the flea, which has sucked the blood of them both. He uses a cunning argument, saying that although their blood is mixed together inside the flea “this is more than we would do”. In other words, he is stating that despite the fact they are physically bonded inside the flea, she will not allow them to make love, another physical bond. The tone of this stanza is jealous, as he wants what the flea has – a bond with her. With phrases such as “yet this enjoys before it woo” and “this, alas, is more than we would do”, he is effectively telling her that she can have no justification for having “pamper’d” the flea but not him.
During the second stanza of the poem, the speaker’s lover offers to kill the insect. He prevents her from doing so, claiming that because of the fact that their blood is mingled inside the flea, they “more than married are”, and the flea “their marriage bed and marriage temple is”. He explains to her that destroying the flea would be three sins – sacrilege, destroying their marriage temple (the flea), suicide, killing part of herself as the flea contained her blood, and murder, killing part of the speaker as it also contained his blood. This bold argument shows the wit of the speaker.
The last stage of ‘The Flea’ is the speaker’s reaction after his mistress has killed the flea. She “triumphs”, thinking that she has won the argument; however the speaker changes his argument and now presents the case that in the way his fears about killing the flea were proved to be “false fears” or ungrounded, so will her fears about losing her virginity. He tells her that “Just so much honour…will wast, as this flea’s death took life from thee” if she sleeps with him. He has skilfully turned her argument to his advantage. His tone at the start of this last section is critical of her actions, calling her “cruel and sodaine” and asking why she “purpled [her] nail, in blood of innocence”.
This poem is ingenious in its lines of persuasion. The cunning and dynamic personality of the speaker is displayed in its seemingly spontaneous change of argument. The change has, of course, been carefully planned by Donne, who would have spent a lot of time composing this poem and so cannot be called truly spontaneous. The images of this poem are unconventional and so it is all the more impressive that the poet has produced such a work.
Unlike ‘The Flea’, ‘To His Coy Mistress’ has the form of a syllogism – a three part logical argument. The overall theme of the poem can be summed up in the Latin phrase “carpe diem”, which means seize the day.
The first section of this poem makes a premise, explaining that if they had all the time in the world, the speaker would love his mistress “ten years before the Flood” (of Noah’s Ark) until “the conversion of the Jews” (which will be at Judgement Day, the end of the world). He imagines a world without the constraint of time, when he could adore her for over thirty thousand years. In a world such as this, he would be willing to wait for as long as necessary and so the fact that she feels she is not ready to sleep with him would be “no crime”. The speaker also praises his mistress in this section whilst mocking himself, comparing her to the exotic Ganges which contrasts with the muddy Humber he likens himself to. These praises certainly help the speaker in his argument for love.
The second section of ‘To His Coy Mistress’ is also a premise, telling her that time does exist and they are getting older all the time. This makes the tone of the poem more urgent, with phrases such as “deserts of vast eternity” to describe death and “thy beauty shall no more be found” being employed by the speaker to try and shock her. He conjures up horrific images such as that of worms trying “that long preserved virginity” and echoes of her funeral service with the words “dust” and “ashes”. In addition, another shocking tactic he uses is the witty epigram:
“The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace. ”
The final section presents the speaker’s proposal based on the two premises mentioned and uses many persuasive devices. The proposition of the speaker is essentially the “carpe diem” idea – that they use the time that they have to make love “like amorous birds of prey”. He uses sentences beginning with “now” three times to reinforce the idea that time is of the essence. Striking verbs such as “sport”, “devour”, “roll” and “tear” add to the feeling of urgency.
‘To His Coy Mistress’ seems to argue much more logically than ‘The Flea’, and it certainly contains a strong line of argument as is often suggested about the Metaphysical poets.
In conclusion, both poems use a number of persuasive devices to try and convince the mistresses to love and because of this I feel that both poems are ‘strong’ in their arguments. ‘To His Coy Mistress’ seems to have the stronger argument of the two because its argument is more logical, although ‘The Flea’ is impressive because of its unconventional and original images.
John Donne’s The Flea vs Andrew Marvell’s to His Coy Mistress: Strong Metaphysical Lines
Examine the view that Andrew Marvell presents the speaker in this poem as having a light-hearted attitude towards (life and) love?
Within the poem ‘To His Coy Mistress’ by Andrew Marvell, the speaker may be interpreted as having a light-hearted attitude towards love. On the other hand, it may emphasise the importance of ‘carpe diem’ theme, where time is important and they must seize the day, while they have the chance. Andrew Marvell was a well-known metaphysical poet, often using images and word play to express complex emotions and ideas. His work may be regarded as humorous due to the use of satire as a way of mocking other poets. The poem is spoken by an anonymous man, addressed to an anonymous woman. The poems fits into the ‘carpe diem’ theme, due to the speaker explaining how due to the lack of time they have, they should ‘seize the day’ and sleep together while they can.
The poem is split into three stanzas, which splits the poem up into three time frames. The first stanza emphasises speed and urgency and explores what would happen if they had all the time they needed in order for the speaker to ‘woo’ her: ‘Had we but world enough, and time, This coyness Lady were no crime’. The use of the noun ‘crime’ is a hyperbole which can be interpreted as being mocking of the importance of virginity within the time period. Marvell uses biblical language when referring to the ‘Flood’ (Noah and the Arc). He explains he would go back in time to ‘Ten years before the Flood’ and forward in time to the ‘Conversion of the Jews’ all while loving her. The use of the Biblical language appears to mock poems that discuss love in romantic and divine terms. Furthermore, the famous line within the poem refers to the speaker’s ‘vegetable Love’. Ostensibly, this may mean natural, organic love that cannot be changed, however it may be considered humorous and light-hearted due to connotations of the polysyllabic word ‘vegetable’, possibly referring to the male genitalia. The speaker explains how he would admire and compliment her, and focus on ‘each part’ of her body until he got to her heart. It can be argued that the use of the noun ‘heart’ could be a metaphor for love, or for sex. A vast amount of hyperboles are used within the first stanza, which can support the idea that Marvell is mocking other poets. He says he would spend ‘An hundred years’ to ‘praise Thine Eyes’, and ‘Two hundred to adore each Breast’. However, this is all undermined from the outset, where he explains that this admiration would only occur IF they had enough time.
The second stanza deals with issues of time and mortality. Marvell uses unpleasant imagery to explain that when she dies, her virginity will be lost by worms: ‘then worms shall try that long preserve’d virginity’. Furthermore, Marvell goes against the conventional Christian views of death, where the bodies are believed to go to heaven. Marvell challenges these views by saying how the bodies will turn to ‘dust’, and will simply rot away into ‘deserts of vast eternity’. This use of imagery is to persuade the lady to give up her virginity now, as there is only one outcome in life and therefore waiting is pointless. Marvell appears to be mocking conventional love poetry through the LACK of flattery within this stanza, and the use of deathly imagery. Marvell appears to use sarcasm and irony when describing how ‘the Grave’s a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace’. He mocks images of death and decay by referring to the lack of sexual contact available after death. However, the speaker hides his opinions as facts by embedding the phrase ‘I think’ into the middle of the line ‘but none I think do there embrace’.
Within the third stanza, Marvell talks about what him and this lady must do now due to their lack of time: ‘Now therefore’. There is a switch with imagery, where bright imagery is now being used: ‘instant fires’. The use of this imagery aids to emphasise the need for speed, passion and urgency. Furthermore, Marvell uses animalistic imagery. He suggests that ‘like amorous birds of prey’ they should ‘at once our time devour’. This imagery hints at the speaker’s desires which are hard to contain, where they should not be waiting for death. The use of the pronoun ‘us’, and the determiner ‘our’ used throughout this stanza suggests unity between the two.
‘To His Coy Mistress’ may however be interpreted as a serious exploration of why seizing the day is important due to the lack of time. The speaker has used the scare of time to manipulate the mistress into sleeping with him. He speaks of the ‘instant fires’, ‘willing soul’ and ‘amorous birds of prey’, to emphasise the importance of being quick in their actions due to time running out. The use of death imagery is very vivid and unattractive, with references to ‘worms’. The speaker warns his mistress that mortality is serious and they need to act quickly.
In conclusion, Marvell presents the speaker in the poem as having a mostly light-hearted view of love due to the use of humour and imagery, and by going against the conventional Christian views of death.