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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: March 2011

4 - Borders and transitions in Marvell’s poetry

Summary

Andrew Marvell is a writer deeply identified with particular locales and enclosures. Despite recent interest in his occasional and polemical writings, he is still first and foremost the poet of gardens, those lush, mysterious haunts we know so well from The Garden, from Upon Appleton House, To My Lord Fairfax, or from The Nymph Complaining for the Death of her Fawn. More generally we think of Marvell as a pastoral poet, ever attendant to the green business of the world, familiar of Daphnis and Chloe, Ametas and Thestylis, and not least Damon the Mower. His most famous poem, To His Coy Mistress, has as its backdrop the Yorkshire countryside and was likely written, as we believe the great part of his lyrics were, while Marvell was in residence at Nun Appleton. Later in the 1650s, we might think of Marvell in his employ at the Latin Secretary’s Office, perhaps writing there A Poem upon the Death of O. C.; and in the 1660s we might think of him in lobbies and committee rooms of Parliament, writing letters to the Hull Corporation or collecting gossip and slander for the ‘advice to a painter’ poems.

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