Andrew Marvell poems


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Andrew Marvell poems


Marvell, Andrew.The Poems of Andrew Marvell. G. A. Aitken, Ed. London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1892. 96-97; except “The Garden”: Elizabethan and Seventeenth-Century Lyrics. Matthew W. Black, Ed. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Company, 1938. 373-375.


COURAGE, my soul! now learn to wield

The weight of thine immortal shield;
Close on thy head thy helmet bright;
Balance thy sword against the fight;
See where an army, strong as fair,
With silken banners spreads the air!
Now, if thou be'st that thing divine,
In this day's combat let it shine,
And show that Nature wants an art
To conquer one resolvèd heart. 10

Welcome the creation's guest,

Lord of earth, and Heaven's heir!
Lay aside that warlike crest,
And of Nature's banquet share;
Where the souls of fruits and flowers
Stand prepared to heighten yours.

I sup above, and cannot stay,

To bait so long upon the way.

On these downy pillows lie,

Whose soft plumes will thither fly: 20
On these roses, strowed so plain
Lest one leaf thy side should strain.

My gentler rest is on a thought,

Conscious of doing what I ought.

If thou be'st with perfumes pleased,

Such as oft the gods appeased,
Thou in fragrant clouds shalt show,
Like another god below.

A soul that knows not to presume,

Is Heaven's, and its own, perfume. 30

Everything does seem to vie

Which should first attract thine eye:
But since none deserves that grace,

In this crystal view thy face.


When the Creator's skill is prized,

The rest is all but earth disguised.

Hark how music then prepares

For thy stay these charming airs,
Which the posting winds recall,
And suspend the river's fall. 40

Had I but any time to lose,

On this I would it all dispose.
Cease, tempter! None can chain a mind,
Whom this sweet cordage cannot bind.

Earth cannot show so brave a sight,

 As when a single soul does fence
 The batteries of alluring sense,
And Heaven views it with delight.
 Then persevere; for still new charges sound,
 And if thou overcom'st thou shalt be crowned. 50

All that's costly, fair, and sweet,

 Which scatteringly doth shine,
Shall within one beauty meet,
 And she be only thine.

If things of sight such heavens be,

What heavens are those we cannot see?

Wheresoe'er thy foot shall go

 The minted gold shall lie,
Till thou purchase all below,
 And want new worlds to buy. 60

We'rt not for price who'd value gold?

And that's worth naught that can be sold.

Wilt thou all the glory have

 That war or peace commend?
Half the world shall be thy slave,
 The other half thy friend.

What friend, if to my self untrue?

What slaves, unless I captive you?

Thou shalt know each hidden cause,

 And see the future time; 70
Try what depth the centre draws,
 And then to Heaven climb.

None thither mounts by the degree

Of knowledge, but humility.


Triumph, triumph, victorious soul!

 The world has not one pleasure more:
The rest does lie beyond the pole,
 And is thine everlasting store.


SEE, how the orient dew,

Shed from the bosom of the morn
Into the blowing roses,
Yet careless of its mansion new,
For the clear region where 'twas born,
Round in itself incloses;
And, in its little globe's extent,
Frames, as it can, its native element.
How it the purple flower does slight,
Scarce touching where it lies; 10
But gazing back upon the skies,
Shines with a mournful light,
Like its own tear,
Because so long divided from the sphere.
Restless it rolls, and unsecure,
Trembling, lest it grow impure;
Till the warm sun pity its pain,
And to the skies exhale it back again.
So the soul, that drop, that ray
Of the clear fountain of eternal day, 20
Could it within the human flower be seen,
Remembering still its former height,
Shuns the sweet leaves, and blossoms green,
And, recollecting its own light,
Does, in its pure and circling thoughts, express
The greater heaven in an heaven less.
In how coy a figure wound,
Every way it turns away;
So the world-excluding round,
Yet receiving in the day; 30
Dark beneath, but bright above,
Here disdaining, there in love.
How loose and easy hence to go;
How girt and ready to ascend;
Moving but on a point below,
It all about does upwards bend.
Such did the manna's sacred dew distil;
White and entire, though congealed and chill;
Congealed on earth; but does, dissolving, run
Into the glories of the almighty sun. 40


WHEN for the thorns with which I long, too long,
With many a piercing wound,
My Saviour's head have crowned,
I seek with garlands to redress that wrong,—
Through every garden, every mead,
I gather flowers (my fruits are only flowers),
Dismantling all the fragrant towers
That once adorned my shepherdess's head:
And now, when I have summed up all my store,
Thinking (so I my self deceive) 10
So rich a chaplet thence to weave
As never yet the King of Glory wore,
Alas! I find the Serpent old,
That, twining in his speckled breast,
About the flowers disguised, does fold
With wreaths of fame and interest.
Ah, foolish man, that wouldst debase with them,
And mortal glory, Heaven's diadem!
But thou who only couldst the Serpent tame,
Either his slippery knots at once untie, 20
And disentangle all his winding snare,
Or shatter too with him my curious frame,
And let these wither—so that he may die—
Though set with skill, and chosen out with care;
That they, while thou on both their spoils dost tread,
May crown Thy feet, that could not crown Thy head.


HOW wisely Nature did decree,

With the same eyes to weep and see;
That, having viewed the object vain,
They might be ready to complain!
And, since the self-deluding sight
In a false angle takes each height,
These tears, which better measure all,
Like watery lines and plummets fall.
Two tears, which sorrow long did weigh
Within the scales of either eye, 10
And then paid out in equal poise,
Are the true price of all my joys.

What in the world most fair appears,

Yea, even laughter, turns to tears;
And all the jewels which we prize
Melt in these pendants of the eyes.
I have through every garden been,
Amongst the red, the white, the green,
And yet from all the flowers I saw,
No honey, but these tears could draw. 20
So the all-seeing sun each day
Distils the world with chymic ray;
But finds the essence only showers,
Which straight in pity back he pours.
Yet happy they whom grief doth bless,
That weep the more, and see the less;
And, to preserve their sight more true,
Bathe still their eyes in their own dew.
So Magdalen in tears more wise
Dissolved those captivating eyes, 30
Whose liquid chains could flowing meet
To fetter her Redeemer's feet.
Not full sails hasting loaden home,
Nor the chaste lady's pregnant womb,
Nor Cynthia teeming shows so fair
As two eyes swollen with weeping are.
The sparkling glance that shoots desire,
Drenched in these waves, does lose its fire;
Yea oft the Thunderer pity takes,
And here the hissing lightning slakes. 40
The incense was to Heaven dear,
Not as a perfume, but a tear;
And stars shew lovely in the night,
But as they seem the tears of light.
Ope then, mine eyes, your double sluice,
And practise so your noblest use;
For others too can see, or sleep,
But only human eyes can weep.
Now, like two clouds dissolving, drop,
And at each tear in distance stop; 50
Now, like two fountains, trickle down;
Now, like two floods, o'erturn and drown:
Thus let your streams o'erflow your springs,
Till eyes and tears be the same things;

And each the other's difference bears,

These weeping eyes, those seeing tears.


O, WHO shall from this dungeon raise

A soul enslaved so many ways?
With bolts of bones, that fettered stands
In feet, and manacled in hands;
Here blinded with an eye, and there
Deaf with the drumming of an ear;
A soul hung up, as 'twere, in chains
Of nerves, and arteries, and veins;
Tortured, besides each other part,
In a vain head, and double heart?  10

O, who shall me deliver whole,

From bonds of this tyrannic soul?
Which, stretched upright, impales me so
That mine own precipice I go;
And warms and moves this needless frame,
(A fever could but do the same),
And, wanting where its spite to try,
Has made me live to let me die
A body that could never rest,
Since this ill spirit it possessed. 20

What magic could me thus confine

Within another's grief to pine?
Where, whatsoever it complain,
I feel, that cannot feel, the pain;
And all my care itself employs,
That to preserve which me destroys;
Constrained not only to endure
Diseases, but, what's worse, the cure;
And, ready oft the port to gain,
Am shipwrecked into health again. 30

But Physic yet could never reach

The maladies thou me dost teach;
Whom first the cramp of hope does tear,
And then the palsy shakes of fear;
The pestilence of love does heat,
Or hatred's hidden ulcer eat;
Joy's cheerful madness does perplex,
Or sorrow's other madness vex;
Which knowledge forces me to know,

And memory will not forego; 40

What but a soul could have the wit
To build me up for sin so fit?
So architects do square and hew
Green trees that in the forest grew.


HAD we but world enough, and time,

This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day;
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood;
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews. 10
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate. 20

But at my back I always hear

Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserv'd virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust. 30
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.

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;
And now, like am'rous birds of prey,

Rather at once our time devour,

Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power. 40
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.


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.
He first inclosed within the gardens square
A dead and standing pool of air,
And a more luscious earth for them did knead,
Which stupefied them while it fed.
The pink grew then as double as his mind;
The nutriment did change the kind. 10
With strange perfumes he did the roses taint;
And flowers themselves were taught to paint.
The tulip white did for complexion seek,
And learned to interline its cheek;
Its onion root they then so high did hold,
That one was for a meadow sold:
Another world was searched through oceans new,
To find the marvel of Peru;
And yet these rarities might be allowed
To man, that sovereign thing and proud, 20
Had he not dealt between the bark and tree,
Forbidden mixtures there to see.
No plant now knew the stock from which it came;
He grafts upon the wild the tame,
That the uncertain and adulterate fruit
Might put the palate in dispute.
His green seraglio has its eunuchs too,
Lest any tyrant him outdo;
And in the cherry he does Nature vex,
To procreate without a sex. 30
'Tis all enforced, the fountain and the grot,

While the sweet fields do lie forgot,

Where willing Nature does to all dispense
A wild and fragrant innocence;
And fauns and fairies do the meadows till
More by their presence than their skill.
Their statues polished by some ancient hand,
May to adorn the gardens stand;
But, howsoe'er the figures do excel,
The Gods themselves with us do dwell. 40


HOW vainly men themselves amaze

To win the palm, the oak, or bays;
And their uncessant labors see
Crowned from some single herb or tree,
Whose short and narrow-vergèd shade
Does prudently their toils upbraid;
While all the flowers and trees do close
To weave the garlands of repose.

Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,

And Innocence, thy sister dear! 10
Mistaken long, I sought you then
In busy companies of men:
Your sacred plants, if here below,
Only among the plants will grow;
Society is all but rude,
To this delicious solitude.

No white nor red was ever seen

So amorous as this lovely green;
Fond lovers, cruel as their flame,
Cut in these trees their mistress' name. 20
Little, alas, they know or heed,
How far these beauties hers exceed!
Fair trees! wheresoe'er your barks I wound
No name shall but your own be found.

When we have run our passion's heat,

Love hither makes his best retreat:
The gods who mortal beauty chase,
Still in a tree did end their race.
Apollo hunted Daphne so,
Only that she might laurel grow, 30
And Pan did after Syrinx speed,
Not as a nymph, but for a reed.

What wondrous life is this I lead!

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;
Stumbling on melons as I pass,
Insnared with flowers, I fall on grass. 40

Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,

Withdraws into its happiness:
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight 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.

Here at the fountain's sliding foot,

Or at some fruit-tree's mossy root, 50
Casting the body's vest aside,
My soul into the boughs does glide:
There like a bird it sits and sings,
Then whets and combs its silver wings;
And, till prepared for longer flight,
Waves in its plumes the various light.

Such was that happy garden-state,

While man there walked without a mate:
After a place so pure and sweet,
What other help could yet be meet! 60
But 'twas beyond a mortal's share
To wander solitary there:
Two paradises 'twere in one
To live in Paradise alone.

How well the skillful gard'ner drew

Of flowers and herbs this dial new;
Where from above the milder sun
Does through a fragrant zodiac run;
And, as it works, th' industrious bee
Computes its time as well as we. 70
How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers!

An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return From Ireland

The forward youth that would appear

Must now forsake his muses dear,

Nor in the shadows sing

His numbers languishing.

'Tis time to leave the books in dust,

And oil the unused armour's rust:

Removing from the wall

The corslet of the hall.

So restless Cromwell could not cease

In the inglorious arts of peace, 10

But through adventurous war

Urged his active star.

And, like the three-forked lightning, first

Breaking the clouds where it was nursed,

Did thorough his own side

His fiery way divide.

(For 'tis all one to courage high

The emulous or enemy:

And with such to enclose

Is more than to oppose.) 20

Then burning through the air he went,

And palaces and temples rent:

And Caesar's head at last

Did through his laurels blast.

'Tis madness to resist or blame

The force of angry heaven's flame:

And, if we would speak true,

Much to the man is due,

Who, from his private gardens, where

He lived reserved and austere, 30

As if his highest plot

To plant the bergamot,

Could by industrious valour climb

To ruin the great work of time,

And cast the kingdom old

Into another mould.

Though justice against fate complain,

And plead the ancient rights in vain:

But those do hold or break

As men are strong or weak. 40

Nature, that hateth emptiness,

Allows of penetration less:

And therefore must make room

Where greater spirits come.

What field of all the Civil Wars,

Where his were not the deepest scars?

And Hampton shows what part

He had of wiser art,

Where, twining subtile fears with hope,

He wove a net of such a scope, 50

That Charles himself might chase

To Carisbrooke's narrow case:

That thence the royal actor borne

The tragic scaffold might adorn:

While round the armed bands

Did clap their bloody hands,

He nothing common did or mean

Upon that memorable scene:

But with his keener eye

The axe's edge did try: 60

Nor called the gods with vulgar spite

To vindicate his helpless right,

But bowed his comely head

Down as upon a bed.

This was that memorable hour

Which first assured the forced power.

So when they did design

The Capitol's first line,

A bleeding head where they begun,

Did fright the architects to run; 70

And yet in that the State

Foresaw its happy fate.

And now the Irish are ashamed

To see themselves in one year tamed

So much one man can do,

That does both act and know.

They can affirm his praises best,

And have, though overcome, confess

How good he is, how just,

And fit for highest trust: 80

Nor yet grown stiffer with command,

But still in the Republic's hand:

How fit he is to sway

That can so well obey.

He to the Commons' feet presents

A kingdom, for his first year's rents:

And, what he may, forbears

His fame, to make it theirs:

And has his sword and spoils ungirt,

To lay them at the public's skirt. 90

So when the falcon high

Falls heavy from the sky,

She, having killed, no more does search

But on the next green bough to perch,

Where, when he first does lure,

The falconer has her sure.

What may not then our isle presume

While Victory his crest does plume?

What may not others fear

If thus he crown each year? 100

A Caesar, he, ere long to Gaul,

To Italy a Hannibal,

And to all states not free

Shall climacteric be.

The Pict no shelter now shall find

Within his parti-coloured mind,

But from this valour sad

Shrink underneath the plaid:

Happy, if in the tufted brake

The English hunter him mistake, 110

Nor lay his hounds in near

The Caledonian deer.

But thou, the Wars' and Fortune's son,

March indefatigably on,

And for the last effect

Still keep thy sword erect:

Besides the force it has to fright

The spirits of the shady night,

The same arts that did gain

A power, must it maintain. 120

Notes for “An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland.”
This poem was cancelled from all extant copies of 1681 except for two, one in the British Library and one in the Huntington Library, California. Cromwell returned from his ferocious reconquest of Ireland in May 1650, and in the following month undertook the preventive campaign against Scotland, Fairfax having resigned as commander-in-chief because he thought the Scots should not be compelled to war. Cromwell entered Scotland on 22 July 1650; the poem, presumably, was written between his return from Ireland and that date. Though the tone and some of the details derive from Horace, as the title suggests, Marvell also remembered and imitated what Lucan had written, in his epic Pharsalia, about Julius Caesar and Pompey. On the Horatian antecedents see John Coolidge, 'Marvell and Horace', Modem Philology, 43 (1965), 111-20. Annabel Patterson takes the mode of the poem to be that of'conditional praise' (61). A strong and direct indebtedness to II Principe is demonstrated by Brian Vickers, 'Machiavelli and Marvell's "Horatian Ode"', Notes and Queries (March 1989), 32-8. The historical circumstances of the moment are fully described by Blair Worden, The Historical Journal, 27 (1984), 525-47; and see also Michael Wilding, Drains Teeth, ch. 5. 1. 2. now: 'in times like these'. The opening lines (1-8) are adapted from Lucan, Pharsalia, i. 239-43.

l. 9. restless: a trait of Lucan's Caesar. The passage 11. 9-24 imitates

Pharsalia, i. 143-55. cease: rest.

80 1. 15. thorough: (Bodleian MS); through (1681 has 'through').

side: (i) party; (2) the lightning is conceived as tearing through the side of its own body the cloud.

ll. 19-20. And with ... oppose: to pen him in will produce an even more violent reaction than to fight against him.

1. 20. more: worse; a Latinism; cf. Pharsalia. 1. i: 'Bella ... plus quam crvilia' (Craze).

1. 23. Caesar: Charles I, beheaded in 1649.

1. 24. laurels: thought to be proof against lightning and worn by Roman emperors.

1. 32. bergamot: a variety of pear.

1. 35. kingdom: 1681; 'kingdoms' Bodleian MS, Thompson.

1. 38. ancient rights: see 'Tom May's Death', 1. 69.

1. 42. penetration: see note on 'Flecknoe', 1. 99.

l. 46. Where Aw ... scars: i.e. the scars he gave.

ll. 47-52. And... case: In 1648 the king, noting the increased hostility of the Army Council, took flight from his palace at Hampton Court to Carisbrooke on the Isle of Wight. He did not receive the expected welcome; the governor treated him as a prisoner. Thus his flight was in part responsible for what happened later, but the contemporary rumour that Cromwell engineered it—which is what Marvell here has in mind—appears to be without foundation.

1. 49. subtile: finely woven.

81 1. 52. case: cage.

1. 53. actor: this theatrical figure is sustained in 1. 54 ('tragic scaffold'— stages for the acting of tragedies), 1. 56 (clapping), and 1. 58 (scene). John Carswell (TLS, i Aug. 1952, 501) suggests that 11. 57-64 constitute a faintly ironic criticism of an actor's performance. One contemporary account of the king's trial was called Tragicum Theatrunt Actorum. The fact that the execution took place on a scaffold outside the Banqueting House (in which Charles had formerly acted in masques) gives additional force to the figure.

1. 56. dap: some said that the soldiers around the scaffold were ordered to clap, with the object of rendering the king's words inaudible.

1. 59. keener: keener than the axe's edge. The Latin acies means both 'eyesight' and 'blade'. 'It is recorded by one [eye-witness] that he had never seen the king's eyes brighter than in his last moment, and by another he more than once inquired about the sharpness of the axe' (C. V. Wedgwood, Poetry and Politics under the Stuarts (1961), 101-2).

l. 60. try: test.

ll. 63-4. But homed .. . bed: 'The Venetian ambassador reported that the executioners had prepared for resistance on the part of the king by arranging to drag his head down by force; but he told them this was unnecessary, and voluntarily placed his head on the block' (Christopher Hill, Puritanism and Revolution (1958), 360 n.).

l. 66. forced: two syllables; gained by force.

ll. 67-72. So ... fate: the story is told by Pliny, Natural History, xxviii. 4. The excavator of the foundations of the temple of Jupiter Capitolium found 'a man's head, face and all, whole and sound: which sight.. . plainly foretold that [Rome] should be chief castle of the empire and the capital place of the whole world' (Livy, Annals, i. 55.6, tr. Philemon Holland) (Donno). Hodge remarks that in Livy's version of the story the head is discovered by Tarquin, later banished as a tyrant ("6).

1. 74. in one year: Cromwell's Irish campaign lasted from August 1649 to May 1650.

l. 76. act and know: this commends Cromwell for contemplative and active virtue, resuming the theme of 11. 29-37.

ll. 77-90. They ... skirts: reminiscent of Lucan, ix. 192-200 (mag­nanimity of Pompey).

1. 77. They: the Irish. Irish testimony would be hard to find at the time (or, one might add, later).

1. 81. yet: either 'nevertheless' or 'up to now'.

1. 82. still: either 'always' or 'up to now'.

l. 85. Commons': Bodleian MS, Thompson; 'Common' 1681.

1. 87. what he may: so far as he can.

82 1. 95. lure: a lure was made of feathers. During training the hawk could expect to find food in it, and on active service return to it when the falconer calls.

1. 100. crown: 1681; 'crowns' Bodleian MS, Thompson.

1. 104. climacteric: Critical, marking an epoch (stressed on the first and third syllables).

1. 105. Pict: the name of a Celtic tribe inhabiting Scotland; chosen rather than 'Scot' for the sake of the pun in the next line.

1. 106. pant-coloured: variously coloured (Latin pingere, pictum, to paint). The Scots were generally regarded as fickle and treacherous. (There is also a pun on 'party'.)

1. 107. sad: severe, or steadfast.

1. no. mistake: because of his coloured camouflage.

l. n6. thy: 1681; 'the' Thompson.

ll. 117-18. Besides ... night: usually interpreted as referring to the cross-hilt of the sword, but this would imply that the sword is held hilt upmost, and this sword is 'erect'. Its power against the forces of darkness may then derive, as John M. Wallace suggests, from 'a sun-like glitter on the blade' (PMLA 77, 1961, 44). Elsie Duncan-Jones explains the lines as alluding to the pagan belief (Odyssey, ix. 48, Aeneid, vi. 260) that spirits of the underworld fear cold iron.

ll. 119-20. The same arts . .. maintain: a commonplace of political theory; for references see John M. Wallace, 43 and notes, 48-54.


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