Biography of Andrew Marvell
Andrew Marvell an English metaphysical poet, Parliamentarian, and the son of a Church of England clergyman (also named Andrew Marvell). As a metaphysical poet, he is associated with John Donne and George Herbert. He was a colleague and friend of John Milton.
Marvell was born in Winestead-in-Holderness, East Riding of Yorkshire, near the city of Kingston upon Hull. The family moved to Hull when his father was appointed Lecturer at Holy Trinity Church there, and Marvell was educated at Hull Grammar School. A secondary school in the city is now named after him.
His most famous poems include To His Coy Mistress, The Garden, An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland, The Mower's Song and the country house poem Upon Appleton House.
At the age of twelve, Marvell attended Trinity College, Cambridge and eventually received his BA degree. Afterwards, from the middle of 1642 onwards, Marvell probably travelled in continental Europe. He may well have served as a tutor for an aristocrat on the Grand Tour; but the facts are not clear on this point. While England was embroiled in the civil war, Marvell seems to have remained on the continent until 1647. It is not known exactly where his travels took him, except that he was in Rome in 1645 and Milton later reported that Marvell had mastered four languages, including French, Italian and Spanish.
First poems and Marvell's time at Nun Appleton
Marvell's first poems, which were written in Latin and Greek and published when he was still at Cambridge, lamented a visitation of the plague and celebrated the birth of a child to King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria. He only belatedly became sympathetic to the successive regimes during the Interregnum after Charles I's execution, which took place 30 January 1649. His Horatian Ode, a political poem dated to early 1650, responds with sorrow to the regicide even as it praises Oliver Cromwell's return from Ireland.
Circa 1650-52, Marvell served as tutor to the daughter of the Lord General Thomas Fairfax, who had recently relinquished command of the Parliamentary army to Cromwell. He lived during that time at Nun Appleton House, near York, where he continued to write poetry. One poem, Upon Appleton House, To My Lord Fairfax, uses a description of the estate as a way of exploring Fairfax's and Marvell's own situation in a time of war and political change. Probably the best-known poem he wrote at this time was To His Coy Mistress.
Marvell's poetic style
Marvell’s poetry is often witty and full of elaborate conceits in the elegant style of the metaphysical poets. Many poems were inspired by events of the time, public or personal. The Picture of Little TC in a Prospect of Flowers was written about the daughter of one of Marvell's friends, Theophila Cornwell, who was named after an elder sister who had died as a baby. Marvell uses the picture of her surrounded by flowers in a garden to convey the transience of spring and the fragility of childhood. This poem's title is ironically echoed by John Ashbery's poem "The Picture of Little JA in a Prospect of Flowers."
Others were written in the pastoral style of the classical Roman authors. Even here, Marvell tends to place a particular picture before us. In The Nymph Complaining for the Death of her Fawn, the nymph weeps for the little animal as it dies, and tells us how it consoled her for her betrayal in love.
His pastoral poems, including Upon Appleton House achieve originality and a unique tone through his reworking and subversion of the pastoral genre.
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Andrew Marvell Poems
To His Coy Mistress
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 Loves Day.
The Definition Of Love
My Love is of a birth as rare As 'tis for object strange and high: It was begotten by despair Upon Impossibility.
Eyes And Tears
How wisely Nature did decree, With the same Eyes to weep and see! That, having view'd the object vain, They might be ready to complain.
A Dialogue Between The Soul And Body
Soul O Who shall, from this Dungeon, raise A Soul inslav'd so many wayes? With bolts of Bones, that fetter'd stands
How vainly men themselves amaze To win the Palm, the Oke, or Bayes; And their uncessant Labours see Crown'd from some single Herb or Tree,
Where the remote Bermudas ride In th' Oceans bosome unespy'd, From a small Boat, that row'd along, The listning Winds receiv'd this Song.
First was the world as one great cymbal made, Where jarring winds to infant Nature played. All music was a solitary sound, To hollow rocks and murm'ring fountains bound.
Come little Infant, Love me now, While thine unsuspected years Clear thine aged Fathers brow From cold Jealousie and Fears.
The Fair Singer
To make a final conquest of all me, Love did compose so sweet an Enemy, In whom both Beauties to my death agree, Joyning themselves in fatal Harmony;
Upon Appleton House, To My Lord Fairfax
Within this sober Frame expect Work of no Forrain Architect; That unto Caves the Quarries drew, And Forrests did to Pastures hew;
An Horatian Ode Upon Cromwell's Return F...
The forward youth that would appear Must now forsake his Muses dear, Nor in the shadows sing His numbers languishing.
Like the vain curlings of the watery maze, Which in smooth streams a sinking weight does raise, So Man, declining always, disappears In the weak circles of increasing years;
On the Victory Obtained by Blake over the Spaniards in the Bay of Santa Cruz, in the Island of Tenerife, 1657 Now does Spain's fleet her spacious wings unfold, Leaves the New World and hastens for the old:
Quisnam adeo, mortale genus, praecordia versat:
Heu Palmae, Laurique furor, vel simplicis Herbae!
Arbor ut indomitos ornet vix una labores;
Tempora nec foliis praecingat tota maglignis.
Dum simud implexi, tranquillae ad ferta Quiaetis,
Omnigeni coeunt Flores, integraque Sylva.
Alma Quies, teneo te! & te Germana Quietis
Simplicitas! Vos ergo diu per Templa, per urbes,
Quaesivi, Regum perque alta Palatia frustra.