lunes, 7 de octubre de 2013

Andrew Marvell



From The Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble:


MARVELL, Andrew (1621-1678), son of the Revd Andrew Marvell, born at Winstead in Holderness, Yorkshire. in 1624 the family moved to Hull on his father's appointment as lecturer at Holy Trinity Church. Marvell attended Hull Grammar School. He matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge, as a sizar in De. 1633, and graduated in 1639. In 1637 he had contributed Greek and Latin verses to a Cambridge volume congratulating Charles I on the birth of a daughter. His mother died in Apr. 1638, his father remarrying in November. Around 1639 Marvell may have come under the influence of Roman Catholic proselytizers: according to one story he went to London with them and was fetched back by his father. In January 1641 his father was drowned while crossing the Humber, and soon after Marvell left Cambridge for London. Between 1643 and 1647 he travelled for four years in Holland, France, Italy, and Spain, learning languages and fencing, and perhaps deliberately avoiding the Civil War (he said later that 'the Cause was too good to have been fought for'). On his return from the Continent he apparently moved in London literary circles and had friends among Royalists. His poems to Lovelace ('his Noble Friend') and on the death of Lord Hastings were published in 1649. In the early summer of 1650 he wrote 'An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland', perhaps the greatest political poem in English.

From 1650 to 1652 Marvell tutored young Mary Fairfax, daughter of the Parliamentarian general, at Nun Appleton in Yorkshire. In this period, it is usually assumed, he wrote 'Upon Appleton House' and lyrics such as 'The Garden' and the Mower Poems. In 1653 he was appointed tutor to Cromwell's ward William Dutton, and moved to John Oxenbridge's house at Eton, where he probably wrote 'Bermudas'. In 1654 with 'The First Anniversary' (published 1655) he began his career as unofficial laureate to Cromwell, and was appointed in 1657 Latin secretary to the council of state (a post previouly occupied by his friend and sponsor John Milton, now blind). For eight months during 1656 Marvell was in Saumur with Dutton, where he was described as 'a notable English Italo-Machiavellian'. He mourned Cromwell in 'Upon the Death of His Late Highness the Lord Protector' (1658) and took part in the funeral procession. The following year (January) he was elected MP for Hull, and remained one of the Hull members until his death. At the Restoration his influence secured Milton's release from prison.

From June 1662 to April 1663 Marvell was in Holland on unknown political business, and in July 1663 he travelled with the earl of Carlisle as private secretary on his embassy to Russia, Sweden, and Denmark, returning in January 1665. His satires against Clarendon were written and published in 1667. Later that year he composed his finest satire 'Last Instructions to a Painter', attacking financial and sexual corruption at court and in Parliament, and took part in the impeachment of Clarendon. The Rehearsal Transpros'd, a controversial mock-biblical prose work advocating toleration for Dissenters, which set new standards of irony and urbanity, appeared in 1672 (Pt II, 1673). Gilbert Burnet called these 'the wittiest books that have appeared in this age', and Charles II apparently read them 'over and over again'. According to the report of government spies, Marvell (under the codename 'Mr Thomas')  was during 1674 a member of a fifth column promoting Dutch interests in England, and in touch with Dutch secret agents. The second edition of Paradise Lost contained a commendatory poem by Marvell, and in his prose works he continued to wage war against arbitrary royal power. Mr Smirk, or The Divine in Mode and A Short Historical Essay Concerning General Councils (1676), and An Account of the Growth of Popery and Arbitrary Government in England (1677), were all Marvell's though prudently published anonymously. The London Gazette offered a reward, in Mar. 1678, for information about the author or printer of An Account. That August, however, Marvell died in his house in Great Russell Street from medical treatment prescribed for a tertian ague. His Miscellaneous Poems appeared in 1681. His Miscellaneous Poems appeared in 1681, printed from papers found in his rooms by his housekeeper Mary Palmer, who gave herself out to be his widow and signed the preface 'Mary Marvell' in order to get her hands on £500 which Marvell had been keeping for two bankrupt friends. This volume did not contain the satires (the authorship of some of which is still disputed): these appeared in Poems on Affairs of State (1689-97).

Famed in his day as patriot, satirist, and foe to tyranny, Marvell was virtually unknown as a lyric poet. C. Lamb started a gradual revival, but Marvell's poems were more appreciated in 19th-cent. America than in England. It was not until after the First World War, with Grierson's Metaphysical Lyrics and T. S. Eliot's 'Andrew Marvell', that the modern high estimation of his poetry began to prevail. In the second half of the 20th century his small body of lyrics was subjected to more exegetical effort than the work of any other metaphysical poet. His oblique and finally enigmatic way of treating what are often quite conventional materials (as in 'The Nymph Complaining for the Death of Her Faun' or 'To His Coy Mistress') has especially intrigued the modern mind.

Poems and Letters, ed. H. M. Margoliouth, 3rd edn rev. P. Legouis and E. E. Duncan-Jones (2 vols, 1971); Latin Poems, ed. and trans. W. A. McQueen and K. A. Rockwell (1964), The Rehearsal Transpros'd, ed. D. E. B. Smith (1971); P. Legouis, Andrew Marvell: Poet, Puritan, Patriot (2nd edn, 1968); H. Kelliher, Andrew Marvell: Poet and Politician (1978); J. B. Leishman, The Art of Marvell's Poetry (1966).



—oOo—





From A History of English Literature, by Émile Legouis and Louis Cazamian (1926-1937)

The End of the Renascence, 1625-1660 — 6. Puritan poetry. Marvell.


The Puritans also had their songsters, who, while they were less numerous than those of the other party, included one of the most endearing and another, much the greatest of the poets of the century—Marvell and Milton.

It is impossible not to place among the Puritans Andrew Marvell (1621-78) (1), who, under the Commonwealth was tutor to the daughter of Lord Fairfax, the great Parliamentary general, and who subsequently was Milton's friend and with him secretary to the Privy Council. He was the most inspired and affectionate of Cromwell's panegyrists, and after the Restoration he carried on in verse and prose the struggle for religious and political liberty. Yet it must be recognized that no one could be less like than Marvell to the conventional harsh and gloomy Puritan, the enemy of all worldly and artistic amusement, for ever mouthing verses of the Old Testament in order to denounce the sins of the world.

This figure is dispelled as we look at Hanneman's portrait of Marvell, a man thirty-seven years old, with brilliant, living eyes, a laughing, mocking mouth and a calm brow, or as we read the verses which the poet wrote in his thirtieth year, alight, as they are, with human love and feeling for nature. Even in the poems of his maturity and in his pamphleteer's prose the gaiety is apparent of a jovial and mirth-loving  spirit. On the whole, religion has far less place in Marvell's verses than in those of the Anglicans we have just considered. While he wrote many verses which witness to the sincerity of his faith, he made both more numerous and finer poems filled with the joyous humanism and the cordial, vital quality which prove him a son of the Renascence. Undoubtedly he revered the Bible; but he also loved wine, women, and song.

He wrote his essentially poetic works at Nunappleton, Lord Fairfax's country-seat, where he lived from 1650 to 1652. He is inspired by the country, but not, like earlier poets, by the country seen in accordance with the pastoral convention. The desire for a more precise, for a local poetry, was already making itself felt, and one of the first poems which fulfilled it was John Denham's Cooper's Hill. But while a landscape was to Denham no more than the starting-point for historical and moral reflections, Marvell indulged far more fully in the happy contemplation of natural scenery. Before him only Wither had expressed, amid much rubbish, the intimate enjoyment he drew from fields and woods. Marvell spontaneously returned to this theme which was to be so dear to the Lake poets. He is very Wordsworthian in Upon the Hill and Grove at Billborough, in which he describes a sort of natural terrace whither Fairfax, after his retirement, was wont to resort in search o quiet and of a meditative mood.

Marvell relates his own feelings in the longest of his poems, Upon Appleton House, in which he shows that he is familiar with the aspects of the country and its trees and birds, and that he had studied and compared the songs of birds. He anticipates Wordsworth in preferring the song of the dove to that of the nightingale. As he walks, he can


... through the hazels thick espy
The hatching throstle's shining eye,

and watch the woodpecker at work. He almost identifies himself with the birds and growing things:


Thus I, easy philosopher,
Among the birds and trees confer;
And little now to make me wants
Or of the fowls, or of the plants.

He has dialogues with the singing birds. The leaves trembling in the wind are to him Sibyl's leaves:


What Rome, Greece, Palestine, ere said,
I in this light mosaic read.
Thrice happy he who, not mistook,
Hath read in Nature's mystic book.

To be covered with leaves is a delight to him:


Under this antic cope I move,
Like some great prelate of the grove.

He calls upon the leafy shoots to cling to him:


Bind me, ye woodbines, in your twines,
Curl me about, ye gadding vines.

This is the exalted love for nature of a romantic, but a hint of strangeness and of Elizabethan pedantry are mingled with it.

Marvell's feeling for animals, his suffering when they suffer, is voiced with infinite gracefulness in his semi-mythological poem, The Nymph complaining for the Death of her Fawn.

He was the first to sing the beauty and glory of gardens and orchards. In them he tastes his dearest delights: it seems to him that all creation is


Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green shade.

Marvell's Garden foreshadows Keats by its sensuousness, and Wordsworth by its optimistic and serenely meditative mood.

Yet he preferred wild to cultivated nature. It is in the spirit of charming Perdita in The Winter's Tale that, in The Mower against Gardens, he protests against artificial gardening processes—grafting, budding, and selection.

The feeling for nature which, in the poems we have mentioned, is expressed in its pure state, is readily introduced into poems which are otherwise inspired, by Christianity or by love, nowhere better than in the famous song of the emigrants in Bermuda. Here Marvell imagines that he hears a Puritan refugee from the Stuart tyranny singing praises to God as he rows along the coast of an island in the Bermudas, 'safe from the storms' and prelates' rage':


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.

Sometimes Marvell returns to the pastoral, but he gives it a new emphasis of truth, even of realism. The short idyll Ametas and Thestylis making Hay-ropes is very original and gracerul, and there is also the touching complaint of Damon the Mower, who, working beneath a burning sun, laments his Juliana's hardness of heart.

Luces en hojasLove poems are not numerous in Marvell's work, but among several which are graceful (The Gallery) or slightly ironical—denouncing women's tricks, artifices, and coquetry (Mourning, Daphnis and Chloe)—a few hold us by their passion. His lines To his Coy Mistress have Donne's strength and passion without his obscurity or bad taste, and run easily and harmoniously. They are the masterpiece of metaphysical poetry in this genre, and they also show a return to the anacreontic theme, 'Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.' But it is repeated with a new intensity. It issues from a heart truly deep and passionate, and the love which is demanded is silent and forceful:


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-chapt pow'r.
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.

These lines are the very essence of the poetry of Marvell, that strange, sensuous, passionate Puritan. He had, however, another vein. He was an ardent patriot and patriotism rather than piety may be said to have dictated his verses on Cromwell's protectorate and death. It is the dominant note of his Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland [1650], First Anniversary of the Government under His Highness the Lord Protector (1655), and Poem upon the Death of His late Highness the Lord Protector. A sort of competition of poets, in which such as Waller and Dryden took part, was provoked by the great man's death, and Marvell carried off its prize because in his verses the man speaks through the poet. They are penetrated with emotion. Better than the others, Marvell gives the impression of the greatness of him he sang and the immensity of the loss his death occasioned.

After the Restoration Marvell pursued only the art of satire, in prose and verse, and this phrase of his accomplishment is better studied elsewhere. We have said enough to show how far he was original as a pure poet. Nature endowed him richly: his sincerity and straightness of vision sufficed to raise the metaphysical school, to which he belonged, from its state of decline, and to bring it back from extravagance to reason without alienating fancy. In the history of the feeling for nature his place is considerable. He expressed himself with liveliness and happy audacity. But he paid too little regard to versification. His lyrical work is written almost entirely in rhymed eight-syllabled couplets, a pleasant metre, but one so easy that it tempts to carelessness. In the formation of his stanzas, Marvell shows himself one of the least varied and inventive poets of his time. To rank among the greatest, he should have had a more exacting standard of art, and perhaps a more whole-hearted devotion to poetry, as well as those supreme qualities of mastery of the word and the line which are the glory of the other Puritan poet, John Milton.



 


Satire and the Satiric Spirit — 3. Political Satire: Marvell, Oldham.

Under the Restoration the domain of political satire is vast and crowded, and only the scholar can explore all its corners. Great names, brilliant or powerful works stand out above a multitude of pamphlets and invectives, which in the most varied forms express one and the same fund of virulent enmity; where intense words fail to give any artistic relief to the monotony of these outporings of hatred.

It is the art of the satirist which alone counts here. The contemporaries, struck by the wealth of this production, have gathered from it the collections entitled Poems on Affairs of State, in which satires are intermixed with pieces of different characters, and of unequal interest. Among their very diverse themes, there are heard the outburst of a vigorous impassioned inspiration, that of a seething anger against the absolutist and Catholic tendencies of the Stuarts. All the genius of a Dryden, thrown on the side of the monarchy, cannot prevent the confused instinct of an irritated people from voicing itself in even louder tones; and another writer—Andrew Marvell—from lending a poetical expression to this instinct.

Marvell belongs to the preceding age of English literature. (1 bis [see above]). A belated survivor like Milton, he preserves in the midst of the children of Belial the forceful energy of a character that has been tempered by Puritanism. His satires, by virtue of the definite occasion which called them into existence, are part and parcel of the Restoration and must be connected with it.

This occasion brings together three poets of the transition in which the new literature develops from the old. Waller (2), a courtier poet at heart, had celebrated an English naval victory, and attributed its triumph to the reigning dynasty
(Instructions to a Painter, 1665); Sir John Denham (3) had inveighed against this adulation in lines of greater manliness (Directions to a Painter, 1667, 1671, 1674). Sparing at first the king's person—for he knows how to bend the stiffness of his principles, and is not above tactics of caution—then abandoning all reserve, he [Marvell] launches until his death (1678) a series of attacks against the foreign policy of the king, and the scandals of public life of the court. Unable to disclose his identity, he has to circulate these pamphlets anonymously, either in manuscript form or in loose sheets, and to hide his main purpose under the veil of allegories. But the personality of the author reveals itself in most cases, and the pulsating ardour of his feeling shines out through all disguises ([The Last Instructions to a Painter], Britannia and Raleigh, Dialogue between Two Horses, etc.). In a language of extraordinary raciness, and a popular tone, with a raw realistic touch, the rage and shame of an England that has been humiliated, enslaved, and contaminated by foreign vices and fashions are here expressed. Such feelings were still exceptional, but their contagious influence was spreading obscurely. As if the new spirit in poetry supplied him with his instrument of expression, Marvell writes most often in heroic couplets; but his unpolished verse, capable of surprising vigour, has not the necessary suppleness or regularity and rather reminds one at times of the simple ballad rhythms. The irresistible virtue of a lofty soul, of a heart embittered but obsessed by noble regrets and high thoughts, nevertheless imbues these strange poems with an energy of movement and phrase, with an eloquence, that make them one of the most eminent examples of English political satire.


________


(1). Complete Works in Prose and Verse, ed. Grosart, 4 vols. (1872-5); Poems and Satires, ed. Aitken in 2 vols. (1892) and in 1 vol. for the Muses' Library (1898). See A. Birrell, Andrew Marvell (English Men of Letters Series, 1905).

(1 bis). (...) Poems and Letters, ed. by H. M. Margoliouth, 1927; P. Legouis, André Marvell, etc., 1928. There would seem to be serious doubt as to the authenticity of several among the satires attributed to Marvell.

(2). Edmund Waller (1606-87): Poems, ed. by Drury, 1893. See Part I.

(3). Sir John Denham (1615-69): Poems, Chalmers, vol. vii. See Part I.




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