“The Garden” by Andrew Marvell

How vainly men themselves amaze
To win the Palm, the Oke, or Bayes ;
And their uncessant Labors see
Crown’d from some single Herb or Tree,
Whose short and narrow-vergèd Shade
Does prudently their Toyles upbraid ;
While all the Flow’rs and Trees do close
To weave the Garlands of repose.

Fair quiet, have I found thee here,
And Innocence, thy Sister dear!
Mistaken long, I sought you then
In busy Companies of Men.
Your sacred Plants, if here below,
Only among the Plants will grow ;
Society is all but rude,
To this delicious Solitude.

No white nor red was ever seen
So am’rous as this lovely green ;
Fond Lovers, cruel as their Flame,
Cut in these Trees their Mistress name.
Little, Alas, they know or heed,
How far these Beauties Hers exceed!
Fair Trees! where se’er your barks I wound
No Name shall but your own be found.

When we have run our Passion’s heat,
Love hither makes his best retreat :
The Gods who mortal Beauty chase,
Still in a Tree did end their race.
Apollo hunted Daphne so,
Only that She might Laurel grow,
And Pan did after Syrinx speed,
Not as a Nymph, but for a Reed.

What wond’rous Life is this I lead!
Ripe Apples drop about my head ;
The Luscious Clusters of the Vine
Upon my Mouth do crush their Wine ;
The Nectaren, and curious Peach
Into my hands themselves do reach ;
Stumbling on Melons as I pass,
Insnared with Flow’rs, I fall on Grass.

Meanwhile the Mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness :
The Mind, that Ocean where each kind
Does streight its own resemblance find ;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other Worlds, and other Seas ;
Annihilating all that’s made
To a green Thought in a green Shade.

Here at the Fountain’s sliding foot,
Or at some Rruit-tree’s mossy root,
Casting the Body’s Vest aside,
My Soul into the boughs does glide :
There like a Bird it sits, and sings,
Then whets, and combs its silver Wings ;
And, till prepar’d for longer flight,
Waves in its Plumes the various Light.

Such was that happy Garden-state,
While Man there walked without a Mate :
After a Place so pure and sweet,
What other Help could yet be meet!
But ’twas beyond a Mortal’s share
To wander solitary there :
Two Paradises ’twere in one
To live in Paradise alone.

How well the skillful Gard’ner drew
Of flowers and herbs this dial new ;
Where from above the milder Sun
Does through a fragrant Zodiack run ;
And, as it works, th’ industrious Bee
Computes its time as well as we.
How could such sweet and wholesome Hours
Be reckon’d but with herbs and flowers!

__________________________________________________________

Andrew Marvell
Hugh Macdonald, Ed.
London: Routledge and Kegan Paul LTD, 1972.   51-53.

3 thoughts on ““The Garden” by Andrew Marvell”

  1. This poem is one of my all-time favorites. I love reading it silently; I love reading it aloud. I’m completely taken with its fine bouquet of tones. Its music tickles my mind and ear.

    I want to write like this some day.

    Also, it just occurred to me that I’d like to have this poem read at my funeral, what with all its celebratory tones interspersed with “Gardens of repose,” etc.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s