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Marvell's Ambivalence

Marvell's Ambivalence: Religion and the Politics of Imagination in mid-seventeenth century England

Takashi Yoshinaka
Volume: 28
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 340
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt81wxx
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  • Book Info
    Marvell's Ambivalence
    Book Description:

    Andrew Marvell's celebrated poetic ambivalence to the philosophical, political and religious controversies of mid-seventeenth century England is the subject of this book, which includes major new historical readings of his most important lyrics and politi

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-844-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. NOTE ON TEXTS
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Introduction: PROVIDENTIAL THEOLOGY AND ANDREW MARVELL
    (pp. 1-20)

    THE purpose of this book is to investigate the ways in which the poems of Andrew Marvell, especially those composed, or assumed to have been composed, around 1650, and the philosophical, political and religious fault-lines of the Caroline and Interregnum periods can be mutually illuminating. It presents, I hope, a synthetic examination of the relation of Marvell’s celebrated poetic ambivalence to the philosophical, political and religious controversies of mid-seventeenth-century England, thus at the same time not only contextualizing the poems of his contemporaries such as John Milton and the Cavalier poets, but also substantiating his hitherto unnoticed connection with the...

  6. Chapter 1 THE POLITICAL USE AND ABUSE OF ‘PROVIDENCE’ IN THE MID-SEVENTEENTH CENTURY
    (pp. 21-44)

    WE FIND providentialism at the centre of seventeenth-century political arguments. Both establishmentarians and revolutionists used it. The Anglicans had long viewed English history as an agency of providence. In the Book of Sermons and Homiles, for example, Anglican leaders could loudly proclaim

    that we also ought in all common weales, to observe and keep a due order, and to be obedient to the powers, their ordinances, and laws, and that all rulers are appointed by God, for a godly order to be kept in the world.¹

    Moreover, Anglicans could support their principles of church polity and church rituals by claiming...

  7. Chapter 2 JUDGMENT HARD: ANDREW MARVELL AND SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SCEPTICISM
    (pp. 45-85)

    ACCORDING to the theories of Renaissance Scholasticism, in this world the rational soul is peculiar to mankind. If a sharp line can be drawn between mortal body and immortal soul, and if there can be posited for the incorporeal soul complete freedom from any form of control by corporeal causation, then we may deduce that, in terms of the concept of the great chain of being, whereas other animals and inanimate matter have no choice but to obey the laws of nature, humankind and angels have the freedom to choose to disobey. Both for the Cambridge Platonists and for Descartes,...

  8. Chapter 3 DESTINY AND CHOICE IN MARVELL’S ‘AN HORATIAN ODE UPON CROMWELL’S RETURN FROM IRELAND’
    (pp. 86-128)

    AFTER the return of Cromwell from his success in Ireland, William Lenthall, Speaker of the Commons, gave him ‘the hearty Thanks of this House for his great good Servce’, and delivered ‘an eloquent Oration, setting forth the great Providence of God in those great and strange Works, which God hath wrought by him, as the Instrument’.¹ In her Violence and Religion, Judy Sproxton argues that ‘Marvell was as certain as other Puritans of his time that the events which had overtaken England in the mid-seventeenth century indeed manifested the will of God’, and that it ‘is in terms of his...

  9. Chapter 4 THE MEADOW AND THE WOODS: PROVIDENCE, CHANCE, AND FREE WILL IN MARVELL’S ‘UPON APPLETON HOUSE’
    (pp. 129-175)

    THERE is hardly any doubt that the meadow scene of ‘Upon Appleton House’ (Stanzas 47–60) contains a political allegory about the Civil War, representing a disordered, brutal, military activity. It may therefore be argued that in this scene Marvell is censuring the armies, more specifically the Cromwellian army, and the cruel havoc they wreaked. Throughout the scene, the mowers are represented as soldiers: they ‘With whistling scythe, and elbow strong, / … massacre the grass along’ (lines 393–394), just as in ‘Damon the Mower’ Damon ‘Depopulat[es] all the ground’ (line 74). And the haycocks they make look like...

  10. Chapter 5 THE SUNDIAL AND THE BEE: A PHILOSOPHICAL AND POLITICAL READING OF THE FINAL STANZA OF MARVELL’S ‘THE GARDEN’
    (pp. 176-193)

    CONCERNING the way in which time is reckoned, the author of ‘The Garden’ seems to indicate that there are two contrasting manners in which this is done: that of Man and that of Nature. While the ‘uncessant labours’ (line 3) in ‘busy companies of men’ (line 12) are in effect vainly expended in winning awards for military, civic, or poetic achievement, the ‘dial’ in the final stanza embodies a qualitatively different current of time:

    How well the skilful gard’ner drew

    Of flow’rs and herbs this dial new;

    Where from above the milder sun

    Does through a fragrant zodiac run;

    And,...

  11. Chapter 6 A DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE PURITAN AND THE ROYALIST: WHO IS THE SPEAKER OF MARVELL’S ‘TO HIS COY MISTRESS’?
    (pp. 194-238)

    MARVELL’S relation to his lovers is always distant. The ‘object’ of his love is ‘strange and high’ (‘The Definition of Love’, line 2), and his coy mistress is addressed as ‘Lady’. The title of this most famous lyric of Marvell’s is not ‘To My Coy Mistress’. The possessive pronoun ‘His’ produces an intentional distancing effect, indicating that the poet’s viewpoint is not necessarily the same as the persona’s. Given Marvellian ambivalence, however, our attempt to identify the speaker, here as elsewhere, does not seem promising. By trying to do so, nevertheless, we may search for the identity of the poet...

  12. Chapter 7 ‘(PERHAPS)’ IN MARVELL’S ‘BERMUDAS’
    (pp. 239-275)

    AT ETON, Marvell lodged in the house of the Puritan divine John Oxenbridge, who had twice been to the Bermudas, and could thus have received a firsthand account of the archipelago. In ‘Bermudas’, Marvell in the guise of the ‘list’ning winds’ (line 4) hears the rowers singing praise to God. When they say:

    He lands us on a grassy stage;

    Safe from the storms, and prelates’ rage (lines 11–12)

    Marvell alludes to Archbishop Laud, who persecuted Oxenbridge. What is epitomized here, however, is the Puritan predilection for highlighting the miraculous deliverance of the elect by God. Increase Mather, for...

  13. Conclusion: MARVELL’S SILVER WINGS AND THE MARVEL OF PERU
    (pp. 276-288)

    IN THIS book, I have posed and investigated a central, and therefore potentially a worn-out, question in Marvell scholarship – the theme of ‘ambivalence’ – but hopefully from a hitherto undiscovered angle, by considering the apparent indeterminacy of his tone and expression in relation to his scepticism and his positioning in the religious and political ‘middle way’ in the climacteric change in mid-seventeenth-century England. By so doing, I have shown, I hope, that Marvell’s ambivalence contains the traces of his conscious efforts to explain and survive the religio-political Flood by resorting to, as it were, the ark of the providential...

  14. SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 289-312)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 313-330)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 331-333)