Using a selection of Andrew Marvell’s poetry

Andrew Marvell’s Politicised Poetry: dialogues between Cromwellianism and Royalism

17 August 2006

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Andrew Marvell, celebrated for his metaphysical poesy researching the new humanist doctrine through pastoral poetry, formed a poetic discourse to a great extent influenced by the political relations and societal turbulence of the mid 17th century. Marvell, educated at the strongly royalist Oxford, and disbursement clip abroad on the Continent during the Civil War and early Interregnum old ages, would hold been acutely cognizant of the Parliamentarian rebellion and the monarchist licking and subsequent expatriate. The executing of King Charles I in 1649 was a defining minute for the early modern English political imaginativeness, and marked the outgrowth of Marvell’s equivocal political textual battle. The regicide shattered the philosophy of ‘divine right’ , efficaciously conveying the crowned head from the Godhead down to the human degree, and acknowledging that the people have the power to take the mode in which they are governed. Marvell exhibits the early modern figure of speech of a ‘world turned upside down’ in his inversion of royalist pastoral poetic discourse, both eulogising Cromwell as the nation’s chosen swayer and exhibiting a nostalgia for the monarchal hierarchy of the yesteryear.

John Wallace ( 1968 ) argues that Marvell identifies himself as neither a Royalist nor Parliamentarian, but instead as a ‘loyalist’ whose political ambiguity served as deliberate protection. Marvell’s poetry negotiates the boundary between loyalism and dissent ; his pro-Cromwellian poetry would appeal to the new government and promote backing and commercial success, on the other manus the volatility and instability of the province is apparent in his dry inversion of royalist discourse. The Treason Act of 1650, which ruled that any claim that Parliament was non the highest authorization of province was a faithless offense, prompted renewed overtly public support of the Cromwellian province in literary circles. The ambiance of the Interregnum was one of uncertainness and malaise, and the poesy of the epoch conveys a widespread general anxiousness over political authorization and endurance.

In 1650 Marvell was appointed as coach to Thomas Fairfax’s girl, Mary, during which clip he composed the now celebrated ‘Upon Appleton House’ . The verse form departs from the generic prescription of such ‘country-house’ verse forms which celebrate the material wealth of state retreat, a genre which held new significance as the monarchist protagonists left for their state retreat. ‘Upon Appleton House’ explores the experience of the dwellers, instead than the physical magnificence of the estate itself. Stanza 7 describes the house as accommodating to the human dwellers, turning and shriveling in order to stress their importance instead than to enforce nobility.

Yet therefore the loaded House does sudate,

And scarce endures theMaestrogreat:

But where he comes the swelling Hallway

Stirs, and theSquaregrowsSpherical;

More by hisMagnitudedistrest.

Than he is by its straitness prest:

And excessively officiously it rebuffs

That in it self which him delectations ( Marvell 1971, lines 49-56 ) .

The house itself ‘scarce endures theMaestrogreat’ , connoting that the useless magnificence of the landed aristocracy is being rejected, even by the natural landscape itself. And yet, the hall crestless waves and splashs, morphing to suit a maestro whose ‘magnitude’ overrides the legitimate authorization of the physical universe.

Marvell’s association with Fairfax brought him into close contact with the Parliamentarians and the new Commonwealth. ‘Upon Appleton House’ makes clear mention to Fairfax’s history and line of descent, telling his retirement from active life to his Yorkshire state retreat. During the mid-seventeenth century a royalist discourse of retreat developed, pulling from the Horatian claim that retreat is a shelter from political turbulences and emphasizing the importance of a life of quiet retirement in an unstable universe. As Graham Parry ( 1989 ) writes, ‘The retreat into private life that follows [ the Civil War ] , where friendly relationship, poesy, and wine provide the Horatian solaces for the loss of dominance, was the batch of many royalist gentlemen after the Civil Wars: the literary ideal of retirement took on a new significance … and poesy … helped to extenuate the experience of defeat’ ( Parry, p. 85 ) . The pastoral scene of Appleton House represents merely such a retreat for both Fairfax and the storyteller:

But I, retiring from the Flood, Take Sanctuary in the Wood ; And, while it lasts, my ego imbark In this yet green, yet turning Ark ( Marvell 1971, lines 481-84 ) .

Marvell makes direct comparing between the garden environing the house and the original Garden of Eden, reconfiguring the state estate as a pre-fall ideal. Fairfax, maestro of the garden, is an Adam figure who is both at bay and liberated by his retreat. The garden is reconfigured in a natural scene of order and pandemonium, reflecting the political convulsion in the pastoral landscape while at the same time supplying a shelter from it.

But all things are composed here Like Nature, orderly and near: In which we the Dimensions discovery Of that more sober Age and Mind, When larger sized Work force did stoop To come in at a narrow cringle ; As practising, in doors so strait, To strive themselves through Heavens Gate ( Marvell 1971, lines 25-32 ) .

The experience of expatriate, the divisions and disruptions associated with the Civil War and its wake, allowed writers to make what Christopher D’Addario describes every bit ‘sustained, assumed universes, ’ infinites off from the ruptures of expatriate, where the imaginativeness is autonomous. [ 1 ] Richard Lovelace, another author good known for his politicised poetics, explores the self-contradictory enabling retreat in ‘To Althea, From Prison’ :

Stone walls do non a prison brand, Nor Fe bars a coop ; Minds inexperienced person and quiet return That for an hermitage ( lines 25-28 ) .

Although Marvell ne’er openly identified with the monarchist cause, his battle with the politicised discourse of retreat is apparent. Marie Sofen Rostvig ( 1962 ) suggests that it was natural for Monarchists in licking to retreat into a retirement of the head. Following the illustration of the Gallic debauchees, royalist poets adapted the Epicurean ideal to back up a discourse of retirement that was strongly political. The privileged retreat sought to reform the monarchy as the Centre of cultural and political authorization, imaginatively represented as a pre-fall Eden in much of royalist poetry.

Marvell’s ‘Upon Appleton House’ resonates with Katherine Philips’s celebrated pastoral ‘Invitation to the Countrey’ as it repositions authorization off from the political relations and societal rubric of the town, taging a bend inwards to the independent ego in contrast to the public authorization of the province. Describing a motion off from the struggle of the town and tribunal to an rational pastoral retirement, Marvell’s ‘Upon Appleton House’ is clearly reacting to an established discourse of monarchist poetics, as evidenced by Philips’s poetry:

There may in this be some advantage found ;

For a retirement from the noise of Towns,

Is that for which some Kings have left heir Crowns:

And Conquerors, whose Laurells prest their Brow,

Have chang’d it for the quiet Mirtle bough … ( Philips, ‘Invitation to the Countrey’ , lines 10-14 )

Both poems place retreat as a status of the head every bit good as the organic structure, lauding the virtuousnesss of friendly relationship that transcends the physical separation and isolation brought approximately by the Civil War. Retreat is associated with ‘peace and virtue’ , a oasis from the ‘cens’ring croud’ and the ‘noise of Towns’ . Marvell’s battle with the discourse of retreat is non an explicitly political statement, but a tactical usage of royalist discourse to convey the anxiousness over the new government and its deductions for the stableness of the British province.

Marvell’s ‘Horatian Ode’ has been interpreted both as an dry verse form which reveals his distance from republican discourse, and as congratulations of Cromwell and grounds of his Parliamentarianism.

Though Justice against Fate complain,

And plead the antediluvian Rights in vain:

But those who do keep or interrupt

As Men are strong or weak.

Nature that hateth emptiness,

Allows of incursion lupus erythematosus:

And hence must do room

Where greater Spirits semen. ( Marvell 1971, lines 37-44 )

Marvell portrays the democracy as extremist ; nevertheless, the representation is non so expressed as to arouse the opinion authorization. Justice is personified, looking to appeal against Fate in a conflict of Godhead will. And yet, every bit shortly as she appears, she fades into the background as an arbitrary label and the moral force of justness gives manner to harsh pragmatism ( Norbrook 264 ) . Marvell’s equivocal intervention of the disruptive political relations of his clip is typical of many authors who found themselves supporting a new province. As Marvell writes, the republican authorities is a ‘forced Pow’r’ which is both enabling and modification, and hence must be both the topic of unfavorable judgment and the object of congratulations.

Andrew Marvell described his past political battle in 1673: ‘I ne’er had any, non the remotest relation to publick affairs, nor correspondence with the individuals so predominant, until the twelvemonth 1657’ ( Marvell 1971, p. 203 ) . Marvell’s equivocal political dispositions during his old ages of poetic productiveness belie the strength of his political battle. Common to authors of the clip, Marvell adopted different voices in order to negociate both monarchist and Parliamentarian discourses. His poetry is filled with images of upset and aberrance on many degrees, from the person to the province, and reveals the general anxiousness over the instability and volatility of the province government in 17th century England.

Plants Cited

Marvell, A. ( 1971 )The Poems and Letters of Andrew Marvellerectile dysfunction. H.M. Margoliouth, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Norbrook, D. ( 1999 )Writing the English Republic: poesy, rhetoric and political relations, 1627-1660Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Parry, G. ( 1989 )The Seventeenth Century: The Intellectual and Cultural Context of English Literature, 1603-1700. London and New York: Longman.

Prince philips, K. ( 1990 )The Collected Works of Katherine Philips: Vol. 1 the Poems, erectile dysfunction. P. Thomas, Stump Cross: Stump Cross Books.

Rostvig, M. ( 1962 )The Happy Man. Christiania: Oslo University Press.

Wallace, J. ( 1968 )Destiny His Choice: the loyalism of Andrew Marvell.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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