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A Short Analysis of Andrew Marvell’s ‘The Garden’

A summary of Marvell’s classic poem

‘The Garden’ is one of Andrew Marvell’s most famous poems, and takes the form of a meditation in a garden; this setting has led critics to interpret the poem as a response to the original biblical garden, Eden, while other commentators have understood the poem as a meditation about sex, political ambition, and various other themes. Its celebrated lines about ‘Annihilating all that’s made / To a green thought in a green shade’ are especially memorable and evocative. Below is ‘The Garden’, followed by a brief summary and analysis of this major Marvell poem.

The Garden

How vainly men themselves amaze
To win the palm, the oak, or bays,
And their uncessant labours see
Crown’d from some single herb or tree,
Whose short and narrow verged shade
Does prudently their toils upbraid;
While all flow’rs and all 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. Read the rest of this entry

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A Short Analysis of John Donne’s ‘The Canonization’

A reading of a classic Donne poem

‘For God’s sake hold your tongue, and let me love’: such an opening line demonstrates with refreshing directness John Donne’s genius for grabbing our attention right from the first line of a poem. ‘The Canonization’ is a difficult poem, but closer analysis of its language and imagery is rewarding.

For God’s sake hold your tongue, and let me love,
Or chide my palsy, or my gout,
My five gray hairs, or ruined fortune flout,
With wealth your state, your mind with arts improve,
Take you a course, get you a place,
Observe his honour, or his grace,
Or the king’s real, or his stampèd face
Contemplate; what you will, approve,
So you will let me love.

Alas, alas, who’s injured by my love?
What merchant’s ships have my sighs drowned?
Who says my tears have overflowed his ground?
When did my colds a forward spring remove?
When did the heats which my veins fill
Add one more to the plaguy bill?
Soldiers find wars, and lawyers find out still
Litigious men, which quarrels move,
Though she and I do love. Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of John Donne’s ‘The Good-Morrow’

A reading of a classic Donne poem

‘I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I / Did, till we loved?’ With these frank and informal words, John Donne (1572-1631) begins one of his most remarkable poems, a poem often associated – as is much of Donne’s work – with the Metaphysical ‘school’ of English poets. But what is ‘The Good-Morrow’ actually about? In this post, we offer some notes towards an analysis of Donne’s ‘The Good-Morrow’ in terms of its language, meaning, and themes.

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee. Read the rest of this entry