Donne And Marvell Essays

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Where the wit of Marvell renews the theme is in the variety and order of the images.

In the first of the three paragraphs Marvell plays with a fancy which begins by pleasing and leads to astonishment.

And if the wit of Dryden or of Pope is not the only kind of wit in the language the rest is not merely a little merriment or a little levity or a little impropriety or a little epigram.

And, on the other hand, the sense in which a man like Marvell is a "Puritan" is restricted.

The persons who opposed Charles I and the persons who supported the Commonwealth were not all of the flock of Zeal-of-the-land Busy or the United Grand Junction Ebenezer Temperance Association.

Many of them were gentlemen of the time who merely believed, with considerable show of reason, that government by a Parliament of gentlemen was better than government by a Stuart; though they were, to that extent, Liberal Practitioners, they could hardly foresee the tea-meeting and the Dissidence of Dissent.

Being men of education and culture, even of travel, some of them were exposed to that spirit of the age which was coming to be the French spirit of the age.

This spirit, curiously enough, was quite opposed to the tendencies latent or the forces active in Puritanism; the contest does great damage to the poetry of Milton; Marvell, an active servant of the public, but a lukewarm partisan, and a poet on a smaller scale, is far less injured by it.

His grave needs neither rose nor rue nor laurel; there is no imaginary justice to be done; we may think about him, if there be need for thinking, for our own benefit, not his.

To bring the poet back to life--the great, the perennial, task of criticism--is in this case to squeeze the drops of the essence of two or three poems; even confining ourselves to these, we may find some precious liquor unknown to the present age.


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