ANDREW MARVELL


Andrew Marvell (1621-1678) was an English poet who was discovered and befriended by John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost. Marvell was an adept statesman who served in political office in such contrasting regimes as King Charles I, Oliver Cromwell during the Interregnum, and King Charles II. He saved his friend Milton from imprisonment. To His Coy Mistress is Marvell's most famous poem, although the following poem, published post-humously in 1681, presents a delightful twist.


A DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE SOUL AND THE BODY


Soul
O who shall, from this dungeon, raise
A soul enslaved so many ways?
With bolts of bones, that fettered stands
In feet, and manacled in hands;
Here blinded with an eye, and there
Deaf with the drumming of an ear;
A soul hung up, as it were, in chains
Of nerves, and arteries, and veins;
Tortured, besides each other part,
In a vain head, and double heart.


Body
O who shall me deliver whole
From bonds of this tyrannic soul?
Which, stretched upright, impales me so
That mine own precipice I go:
And warms and moves this needless frame,
(A fever could but do the same)
And, wanting where its spite to try,
Has made me live to let me die.
A body that could never rest,
Since this ill spirit it possest.


Soul
What magic could me thus confine
Within another's grief to pine?
Where whatsoever it complain,
I feel, that cannot feel, the pain;
And all my care itself employs;
That to preserve which me destroys;
Constrained not only to endure
Diseases, but, what's worse, the cure;
And ready off the port to gain,
And shipwrecked into health again.


Body
But physic yet could never reach
The maladies thou me dost teach
Whom first the cramp of hope does tear,
And then the palsy shakes of fear;
The pestilence of love does heat,
Or hatred's hidden ulcer eat;
Joy's cheerful madness does perplex,
Or sorrow's other madness vex;
Which knowledge forces me to know,
And memory will not forego.
What but a soul could have the wit
To build me up for sin so fit?
So architects do square and hew
Green trees that in the forest grew.


Andrew Marvell
1681



Poetry