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ANDREW MARVELL

1621–1678

A DOZEN years younger than Suckling, three than Love·lace; in death preceded only four years by Herrick ; and half a century of thought and feeling between all three and Marvell. They were Elizabethans. Herrick, though he survived the Restoration by fourteen years, belonged in spirit to his birth time. Marvell was at the meeting of the waters, partaking somewhat of the one tendency, more of the other. A period had opened which was to continue without any positive break till the reign of the third George. Poets had been gay and reckless ; at once romantic and artificial. They sang of love with deliberate extravagance. In their verse it is represented as the one worthy object in life, unless they were devotees. Then Religion took its place, and its emotions. In either case they had the art of seeming to absorb their whole souls into the pursuit. They were not afraid of being considered, and knowing that they were, abnormal, eccentric, even absurd. As one of nature's poets himself, Marvell had a vein in him which now and again startles the reader with a tone, an idea, recalling the rush and sparkle of the youth of English verse. The outbursts are only occasional. They subside, leaving a thinker who had reasons for his strains ; one intellectually of the second half of the seventeenth century; morally too, though on its sober, Puritan side.

Tradition, and practice almost contemporary, perhaps also some insurgent impulses, were powerful enough with him to force him as a poet to be a lover. His amatory fancies necessarily were expressed decorously; for he was

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a member of a pious and well-conducted household. He dwelt with the great citizen-soldier, Fairfax, an earlier Washington, at Billborow amid the quiet Yorkshire pastures. There he taught the classics and holy mathematics' to the daughter, reckless Buckingham's future bride. She,

yet more pure, sweet, straight, and fair,

Than gardens, woods, meads, rivers are, was so judicious', at shy fifteen, that the flaunting sun himself,

lest she should see him go to bed,

In blushing clouds conceals his head.1 Nevertheless, even in such company he had to do his duty as a bard. Though, as I cannot but believe, against the grain, he affected raptures ; and what raptures ! Clorinda coquets solemnly with demure Damon. Love defines itself by the help of a planisphere. Thyrsis invites his Dorinda to feast her ear with astronomical melodies, till they shall find leisure from shepherding to make poppy wine, and

drink on't even till we weep,

So shall we smoothly pass away in sleep. So intoxicating are the charms of the absent Juliana that her swain mows into his own ankle. When Daphnis and Chloe are on the verge of being ever so little incorrect, after five and twenty stanzas, their minstrel knows how to check his Pegasus's wild career. One wonders if the warm panegyrist of soaring Richard Lovelace 4 were conscious of the abyss which separated their respective lyrics.

Marvell, however, is a genuine poet, when not tempted by custom to trespass on ground otherwise appropriated. He paints to the life pleasant, homelike scenes. the Billborow hill :

how courteous it ascends, And all the way it rises bends.5

We see A nymph's sorrow over her fawn, murdered by troopers, is so delicate that one could no more be offended with its excess than with the overflow of a fountain after a June shower :

With sweetest milk and sugar first
I it at my own fingers nursed;
And as it grew, so every day
It waxed more white and sweet than they.
It had so sweet a breath! And oft
I blushed to see its fout mure suft
And wbite shall I say than my hand ?
Nay, any lady's of the land.
I have a garden of my own,
But so with roses overgrown,
And lilies, that you would it guess
To be a little wilderness ;
And all the spring-time of the year
It only loved to be there.
Upon the roses it would feed,
And then to me 'twould boldly trip,
And print those roses on my lip.
Had it lived long it would have been
Lilies without, roses within.

O help! O help! I see it faint
And die as calmly as a saint !
See how it weeps! the tears do come
Sad, slowly, dropping like a gum.

I in a golden vial will
Keep these two crystal tears, and fill
It till it do o’erflow with mine,

Then place it in Diana's shrine. The epitaph upon a young girl too modest to be commemorated by name, is a model of pensive beauty.

To say, she lived a virgin chaste
In this age loose and all unlaced ;
Nor was, when vice is so allowed,
Of virtue or ashamed or proud ;
That ber soul was on Heaven so bent,
No minute but it came and went ;

That, ready her last debt to pay
She summed her life up every day ;
Modest as morn, as mid-day bright,
Gentle as evening, cool as night :
'Tis true ; but all too weakly said ;

'Twas more significant, she 's dead.? With dainty simplicity he gathers in four lines a nosegay of rustic charms :

A tender shepherdess, whose hair
Hangs loose.y playing in the air,
Transplanting flowers from the green hill

To crown her head and busom fil!.8 He can float a gossamer conceit as dexterously as any courtier-poet of his age. Listen, for instance, to him complimenting a Fair Singer,

Whose subtle art invisibly can wreathe

My fetters of the very air I breathe ; 9 or he will draw an analogy—a whole theological philosophy in miniature-between a Drop of Dew, which, Heaven-born,

Gazing back upon the skies,
Shines with a mournful light,

Like its own tear,

Because so long divided from the sphere, and

the soul, that drop, that ray

Of the clear fountain of eternal day, which,

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.10 Like all true poets he has magic at his command. Who can explain why the Bermuda boat-song goes on carolling in the belfry of every brain it has once charmed ?

Where the remote Bermudas ride,
In the ocean's bosum unespied,
From a small boat, that row'd along,
The listening winds received this song :

'What should we do but sing His praise,

That led us through the watery maze,
Unto an isle so long unknown,
And yet far kinder than our own ?
He lands us on a grassy stage,
Safe from the storms, and prelate's rage.
He gave us this eternal spring,
Which here enamels everything;
He hangs in shades the orange bright,
Like golden lamps in a green night,
And does in the pomegranates close
Jewels more rich than Ormus shows;
He makes the figs our mouths to meet,
And throws the melons at our feet;
But apples plants of such a price,
No tree could ever bear them twice ;
With cedars chosen by His hand,
From Lebanon, he stores the land,
And makes the hollow seas that roar,
Proclaim the ambergris on shore ;
He cast of which we rather boast-
The Gospel's pearl upon our coast,
And in these rocks for us did frame
A temple where to sound His name.
Oh ! let our voice His pra se exalt,
Till it arrive at Heaven's vault,
Which, thence, perhaps, rebounding, may
Echo beyond the Mexique Bay.'

Thus sung they in the English boat
An holy and a cheerful note ;
And all the way, to guide their chime,

With falling oars they kept the time.11 Cowley could not have conjured up a ' delicious solitude ', garlands of repose ', to beat Marvell's version from his

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