Andrew Marvell Poetry: British Analysis
Andrew Marvell is firmly established today in the ranks of the Metaphysical poets, and there is no question that much of his work clearly displays the qualities appropriate to such a position. He reveals a kinship with the Metaphysical poets through his ingenious use of extended logic, even when dealing with emotions; his yoking of very dissimilar things, of the mundane (even profane) with the sublime, of large with small and far with near; and his analytic quality. His use of puns, often woven into intricate groups, may be added to the list. Like John Donne and the other Metaphysical poets, Marvell shapes his rhythm with careful attention to his meaning. Marvell’s admiration for Donne shows not only in having written some strongly Donne-like poetry (“On a Drop of Dew,” “Young Love,” and parts of “Upon Appleton House,” for example), but also in his gratuitously full use of one of Donne’s poems in a pamphlet written late in Marvell’s life. It might be added that Marvell’s prose works, especially his most successful, show the same Metaphysical qualities.
Although Donne’s best-known poetry (as well as Marvell’s most Donne-like work) resembles puzzles from which attentive reading gradually extracts greater clarity, a similar approach to Marvell’s best and most “Marvellian” passages (for example, “a green thought in a green Shade”) causes them not to become more clear so much as more dazzling. Marvell has been called...
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