Marvell

No one has written tetrameter better than Andrew Marvell.

To His Coy Mistress

 

Had we but World enough, and Time,
This coyness Lady were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long Loves Day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges side.
Should’st Rubies find: I by the Tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood:
And you should if you please refuse
Till the Conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable Love should grow
Vaster then Empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine Eyes, and on thy Forehead Gaze.
Two hundred to adore each Breast.
But thirty thousand to the rest.
An Age at least to every part,
For Lady you deserve this State;
And the last Age should show your Heart.
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I alwaies hear
Times winged Charriot hurrying near:
And yonder all before us lye
Desarts of vast Eternity.
Thy Beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble Vault, shall sound
My ecchoing Song: then Worms shall try
That long preserved Virginity:
And your quaint Honour turn to durst;
And into ashes all my Lust.
The Grave’s a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hew
Sits on thy skin like morning glew,
And while thy willing Soul transpires
At every pore with instant Fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am’rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our Time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapt pow’r.
Let us roll all our Strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one Ball:
And tear our Pleasures with rough strife,
Thorough the Iron gates of Life.
Thus, though we cannot make our Sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

 


An Epitaph

Enough, and leave the rest to Fame!
‘Tis to commend her, but to name.
Courtship which, living, she declined,
When dead, to offer were unkind:
Nor can the truest wit, or friend,
Without detracting, her commend.

To say–she lived a virgin chaste
In this age loose and all unlaced;
Nor was, when vice is so allowed,
Of virtue or ashamed or proud;
That her soul was on Heaven so bent,
No minute but it came and went;
That, ready her last debt to pay,
She summed her life up every day;
Modest as morn, as mid-day bright,
Gentle as evening, cool as night:
–‘Tis true; but all too weakly said.
‘Twas more significant, she’s dead.


A Dialogue, between the Resolved Soul, and Created Pleasure

 

Courage my Soul, now learn to wield
The weight of thine immortal Shield.
Close on thy Head thy Helmet bright.
Balance thy Sword against the Fight.
See where an Army, strong as fair,
With silken Banners spreads the air.
Now, if thou bee’st that thing Divine,
In this day’s Combat let it shine:
And shew that Nature wants an Art
To conquer one resolved Heart.

 

Pleasure

 

Welcome the Creation’s Guest,
Lord of Earth, and Heaven’s Heir.
Lay aside that Warlike Crest,
And of Nature’s banquet share:
Where the Souls of fruits and Flowers
Stand prepared to heighten yours.

 

Soul

 

I sup above, and cannot stay
To bait so long upon the way.

 

Pleasure

 

On these downy Pillows lye,
Whose soft Plumes will thither fly:
On these Roses strowed so plain
Lest one Leaf thy Side should strain.

 

Soul

 

My gentler Rest is on a Thought,
Conscious of doing what I ought.

 

Pleasure

 

If thou bee’st with Perfumes pleased,
Such as oft the Gods appeased,
Thou in fragrant Clouds shalt show
Like another God below.

 

Soul

 

A Soul that knowes not to presume
Is Heaven’s and its own perfume.

 

Pleasure

 

Every thing does seem to vie
Which should first attract thine Eye:
But since none deserves that grace,
In this Crystal view thy face.

 

Soul

 

When the Creator’s skill is prized,
The rest is all but Earth disguised.

 

Pleasure

 

Heark how Music then prepares
For thy Stay these charming Airs;
Which the posting Winds recall,
And suspend the River’s Fall.

 

Soul

 

Had I but any time to lose,
On this I would it all dispose.
Cease Tempter. None can chain a mind
Whom this sweet Chordage cannot bind.

 

Chorus

 

Earth cannot shew so brave a Sight
As when a single Soul does fence
The Batteries of alluring Sense,
And Heaven views it with delight.
Then persevere: for still new Charges sound:
And if thou overcom’st thou shalt be crowned.

 

Pleasure

 

All this fair, and cost, and sweet,
Which scatteringly doth shine,
Shall within one Beauty meet,
And she be only thine.

 

Soul

 

If things of Sight such Heavens be,
What Heavens are those we cannot see?

 

Pleasure

 

Where so e’re thy Foot shall go
The minted Gold shall lie;
Till thou purchase all below,
And want new Worlds to buy.

 

Soul

 

Wer’t not a price who’d value Gold?
And that’s worth nought that can be sold.

 
Pleasure

 

Wilt thou all the Glory have
That War or Peace commend?
Half the World shall be thy Slave
The other half thy Friend.

 

Soul

 

What Friends, if to my self untrue?
What Slaves, unless I captive you?

 

Pleasure

 

Thou shalt know each hidden Cause;
And see the future Time:
Try what depth the Centre draws;
And then to Heaven climb.

 

Soul

 

None thither mounts by the degree
Of Knowledge, but Humility.

 

Chorus

 

Triumph, triumph, victorious Soul;
The World has not one Pleasure more:
The rest does lie beyond the pole,
And is thine everlasting Store.


The Garden

How vainly men themselves amaze
To win the palm, the oak, or bays,
And their uncessant labours see
Crowned 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.

 

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! wheres’e’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, that 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 in this I lead!
Ripe apples drop about my head;
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach;
Stumbling on melons as I pass,
Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass.

 

Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness;
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight 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 fruit 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 prepared 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 zodiac run;
And as it works, th’ industrious bee
Computes its time as well as we.
How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers!

 


On a Drop of Dew

See how the Orient Dew,
Shed from the Bosom of the Morn
Into the blowing Roses,
Yet careless of its Mansion new;
For the clear Region where ’twas born
Round in its self incloses:
And in its little Globes Extent,
Frames as it can its native Element.
How it the purple Flower does slight,
Scarce touching where it lyes,
But gazing back upon the Skies,
Shines with a mournful Light;
Like its own Tear,
Because so long divided from the Sphear.
Restless it roules and unsecure,
Trembling lest it grow impure:
Till the warm Sun pity it’s Pain,
And to the Skies exhale it back again.
So the Soul, that Drop, that Ray
Of the clear Fountain of Eternal Day,
Could it within the humane flower be seen,
Remembring still its former height,
Shuns the sweat leaves and blossoms green;
And, recollecting its own Light,
Does, in its pure and circling thoughts, express
The greater Heaven in an Heaven less.
In how coy a Figure wound,
Every way it turns away:
So the World excluding round,
Yet receiving in the Day.
Dark beneath, but bright above:
Here disdaining, there in Love.
How loose and easy hence to go:
How girt and ready to ascend.
Moving but on a point below,
It all about does upwards bend.
Such did the Manna’s sacred Dew distill;
White, and intire, though congealed and chill.
Congealed on Earth does, dissolving, run
Into the Glories of th’ Almighty Sun.


Eyes and Tears

How wisely Nature did decree,
With the same Eyes to weep and see!
That, having viewed the object vain,
They might be ready to complain.

 

And since the Self-deluding Sight,
In a false Angle takes each hight;
These Tears which better measure all,
Like wat’ry Lines and Plummets fall.

 

Two Tears, which Sorrow long did weigh
Within the Scales of either Eye,
And then paid out in equal Poise,
Are the true price of all my Joys.

 

What in the World most fair appears,
Yea even Laughter, turns to Tears:
And all the Jewels which we prize,
Melt in these Pendants of the Eyes.

 

I have through every Garden been,
Amongst the Red, the White, the Green;
And yet, from all the flowers I saw,
No Honey, but these Tears could draw.

 

So the all-seeing Sun each day
Distills the World with Chymick Ray;
But finds the Essence only Showers,
Which straight in pity back he powers.

 

Yet happy they whom Grief doth bless,
That weep the more, and see the less:
And, to preserve their Sight more true,
Bath still their Eyes in their own Dew.

 

So Magdalen, in Tears more wise
Dissolved those captivating Eyes,
Whose liquid Chains could flowing meet
To fetter her Redeemer’s feet.

 

Not full sailes hasting loaden home,
Nor the chaste Lady’s pregnant Womb,
Nor Cynthia Teeming shows so fair,
As two Eyes swoln with weeping are.

 

The sparkling Glance that shoots Desire,
Drenched in these Waves, does lose it fire.
Yea oft the Thund’rer pitty takes
And here the hissing Lightning slakes.

 

The Incense was to Heaven dear,
Not as a Perfume, but a Tear.
And Stars shew lovely in the Night,
But as they seem the Tears of Light.

 

Ope then mine Eyes your double Sluice,
And practise so your noblest Use.
For others too can see, or sleep;
But only humane Eyes can weep.

 

Now like two Clouds dissolving, drop,
And at each Tear in distance stop:
Now like two Fountains trickle down:
Now like two floods o’return and drown.

 

Thus let your Streams o’reflow your Springs,
Till Eyes and Tears be the same things:
And each the other’s difference bears;
These weeping Eyes, those seeing Tears.


Bermudas

Where the remote Bermudas ride
In th’ Oceans bosome unespied,
From a small Boat, that rowed along,
The listning Winds received this Song.
What should we do but sing his Praise
That led us through the watry Maze,
Unto an Isle so long unknown,
And yet far kinder than our own?
Where he the huge Sea-Monsters wracks,
That lift the Deep upon their Backs.
He lands us on a grassy stage;
Safe from the Storms, and Prelat’s rage.
He gave us this eternal Spring,
Which here enamells every thing;
And sends the Fowls to us in care,
On daily Visits through the Air,
He hangs in shades the Orange bright,
Like golden Lamps in a green Night.
And does in the Pomgranates close,
Jewels more rich than Ormus shows.
He makes the Figs our mouths to meet;
And throws the Melons at our feet.
But Apples plants of such a price,
No Tree could ever bear them twice.
With Cedars, chosen by his hand,
From Lebanon, he stores the Land.
And makes the hollow Seas, that roar,
Proclaime the Ambergris on shoar.
He cast (of which we rather boast)
The Gospels Pearl upon our coast.
And in these Rocks for us did frame
A Temple, where to sound his Name.
Oh let our Voice his Praise exalt,
Till it arrive at Heaven’s Vault:
Which thence (perhaps) rebounding, may
Eccho beyond the Mexique Bay.
Thus sung they, in the English boat,
An holy and a chearful Note,
And all the way, to guide their Chime,
With falling Oars they kept the time.


A Dialogue between the Soul and Body

Soul

 

O Who shall, from this Dungeon, raise
A Soul enslaved so many wayes?
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 ’twere, in Chains
Of Nerves, and Arteries, and Veins.
Tortured, besides each other part,1
In a vain Head, and double Heart.

 

Body

 

O who shall me deliver whole,
From bonds of this Tyrannic Soul?
Which, stretcht 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 spight to try,
Has made me live to let me dye.
A Body that could never rest,
Since this ill Spirit it possessed.

 

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 its self employs,
That to preserve, which me destroys:
Constrained not only to indure
Diseases, but, what’s worse, the Cure:
And ready oft the Port to gain,
Am Shipwrackt 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 chearful Madness does perplex:
Or Sorrow’s other Madness vex.
Which Knowledge forces me to know;
And Memory will not foregoe.
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.


Young Love

Come little Infant, Love me now,
While thine unsuspected years
Clear thine aged Fathers brow
From cold Jealousie and Fears.

 

Pretty surely ’twere to see
By young Love old Time beguiled:
While our Sportings are as free
As the Nurses with the Child.

 

Common Beauties stay fifteen;
Such as yours should swifter move;
Whole fair Blossoms are too green
Yet for lust, but not for Love.

 

Love as much the snowy Lamb
Or the wanton Kid does prize,
As the lusty Bull or Ram,
For his morning Sacrifice.

 

Now then love me: time may take
Thee before thy time away:
Of this Need we’ll Virtue make,
And learn Love before we may.

 

So we win of doubtful Fate;
And, if good she to us meant,
We that Good shall antedate,
Or, if ill, that Ill prevent.

 

Thus as Kingdoms, frustrating
Other Titles to their Crown,
In the cradle crown their King,
So all Foreign Claims to drown.

 

So, to make all Rivals vain,
Now I crown thee with my Love:
Crown me with thy Love again,
And we both shall Monarchs prove.


The Unfortunate Lover

Alas, how pleasant are their days
With whom the Infant Love yet plays!
Sorted by pairs, they still are seen
By Fountains cool, and Shadows green.
But soon these Flames do lose their light,
Like Meteors of a Summers night:
Nor can they to that Region climb,
To make impression upon Time.

 

‘Twas in a Shipwrack, when the Seas
Ruled, and the Winds did what they please,
That my poor Lover floating lay,
And, e’re brought forth, was cast away:
Till at the last the master-Wave.
Upon the Rock his Mother drave;
And there she split against the Stone,
In a Cesarian Section.

 

The Sea him lent these bitter Tears
Which at his Eyes he always bears.
And from the Winds the Sighs he bore,
Which through his surging Breast do roar.
No Day he saw but that which breaks,
Through frighted Clouds in forked streaks.
While round the ratling Thunder hurled,
As at the Funeral of the World.

 

While Nature to his Birth presents
This masque of quarrelling Elements;
A numerous fleet of Corm’rants black,
That sailed insulting o’re the Wrack,
Received into their cruel Care,
Th’ unfortunate and abject Heir:
Guardians most fit to entertain
The Orphan of the Hurricane.

 

They fed him up with Hopes and Air,
Which soon digested to Despair.
And as one Corm’rant fed him, still
Another on his Heart did bill.
Thus while they famish him, and feast,
He both consumed, and increast:
And languished with doubtful Breath,
Th’ Amphibium of Life and Death.
And now, when angry Heaven would
Behold a spectacle of Blood,

 

Fortune and He are called to play
At sharp before it all the day:
And Tyrant Love his brest does ply
With all his winged Artillery.
Whilst he, betwixt the Flames and Waves,
Like Ajax, the mad Tempest braves.

 

See how he naked and fierce does stand,
Cuffing the Thunder with one hand;
While with the other he does lock,
And grapple, with the stubborn Rock:
From which he with each Wave rebounds,
Torn into Flames, and ragged with Wounds.
And all he saies, a Lover drest
In his own Blood does relish best.

 

This is the only Banneret
That ever Love created yet:
Who though, by the Malignant Stars,
Forced to live in Storms and Wars;
Yet dying leaves a Perfume here,
And Music within every Ear:
And he in Story only rules,
In a Field Sable a Lover Gules.


The Gallery

Clora come view my Soul, and tell
Whether I have contrived it well.
Now all its several lodgings lye
Composed into one Gallery;

 

And the great Arras-hangings, made
Of various Faces, by are laid;
That, for all furniture, you’ll find
Only your Picture in my Mind.
Here Thou art painted in the Dress
Of an Inhumane Murderess;
Examining upon our Hearts
Thy fertile Shop of cruel Arts:

 

Engines more keen than ever yet
Adorned Tyrants Cabinet;
Of which the most tormenting are
Black Eyes, red Lips, and curled Hair.
But, on the other side, th’ art drawn
Like to Aurora in the Dawn;
When in the East she slumbering lyes,
And stretches out her milky Thighs;
While all the morning Quire does sing,
And Mamma falls, and Roses spring;
And, at thy Feet, the wooing Doves
Sit perfecting their harmless Loves.

 

Like an Enchantress here thou show’st,
Vexing thy restless Lover’s Ghost;
And, by a Light obscure, dost rave
Over his Entrails, in the Cave;
Divining thence, with horrid Care,
How long thou shalt continue fair;
And (when informed) them throw’st away,
To be the greedy Vulture’s prey.

 

But, against that, thou sit’st a float
Like Venus in her pearly Boat.
The Halcyons, calming all that’s nigh,
Betwixt the Air and Water fly.
Or, if some rowling Wave appears,
A Mass of Ambergris it bears.
Nor blows more Wind than what may well
Convoy the Perfume to the Smell.

 

These Pictures and a thousand more,
Of Thee, my Gallery dost store;
In all the Forms thou can’st invent
Either to please me, or torment:
For thou alone to people me,
Art grown a numerous Colony;
And a Collection choicer far
Then or White-hall’s, or Mantua’s were.

 

But, of these Pictures and the rest,
That at the Entrance likes me best:
Where the same Posture, and the Look
Remains, with which I first was took.
A tender Shepherdess, whose Hair
Hangs loosely playing in the Air,
Transplanting Flowers from the green Hill,
To crown her Head, and Bosom fill.


The Fair Singer

To make a final conquest of all me,
Love did compose so sweet an Enemy,
In whom both Beauties to my death agree,
Joyning themselves in fatal Harmony;
That while she with her Eyes my Heart does bind,
She with her Voice might captivate my Mind.

 

I could have fled from One but singly fair:
My dis-intangled Soul it self might save,
Breaking the curled trammels of her hair.
But how should I avoid to be her Slave,
Whose subtile Art invisibly can wreath
My Fetters of the very Air I breath?

 

It had been easie fighting in some plain,
Where Victory might hang in equal choice.
But all resistance against her is vain,
Who has th’ advantage both of Eyes and Voice.
And all my Forces needs must be undone,
She having gained both the Wind and Sun.


Mourning

You, that decipher out the Fate
Of humane Off-springs from the Skies,
What mean these Infants which of late
Spring from the Starrs of Chlora’s Eyes?

 

Her Eyes confused, and doubled ore,
With Tears suspended ere they flow;
Seem bending upwards, to restore
To Heaven, whence it came, their Woe.

 

When, molding of the watry Sphears,
Slow drops unty themselves away;
As if she, with those precious Tears,
Would strow the ground where Strephon lay.

 

Yet some affirm, pretending Art,
Her Eyes have so her Bosome drowned,
Only to soften near her Heart
A place to fix another Wound.

 

And, while vain Pomp does her restrain
Within her solitary Bowr,
She courts her self in am’rous Rain;
Her self both Danae and the Showr.

 

Nay others, bolder, hence esteem
Joy now so much her Master grown,
That whatsoever does but seem
Like Grief, is from her Windows thrown.

 

Nor that she payes, while she survives,
To her dead Love this Tribute due;
But casts abroad these Donatives,
At the installing of a new.

 

How wide they dream! The Indian Slaves
That sink for Pearl through Seas profound,
Would find her Tears yet deeper Waves
And not of one the bottom sound.

 

I yet my silent Judgment keep,
Disputing not what they believe:
But sure as oft as Women weep,
It is to be supposed they grieve.


The Definition of Love

My Love is of a birth as rare
As ’tis for object strange and high:
It was begotten by despair
Upon Impossibility.

 

Magnanimous Despair alone.
Could show me so divine a thing,
Where feeble Hope could ne’r have flown
But vainly flapt its Tinsel Wing.

 

And yet I quickly might arrive
Where my extended Soul is fixt,
But Fate does Iron wedges drive,
And alwaies crouds it self betwixt.

 

For Fate with jealous Eye does see.
Two perfect Loves; nor lets them close:
Their union would her ruine be,
And her Tyrannick power depose.

 

And therefore her Decrees of Steel
Us as the distant Poles have placed,
(Though Love’s whole World on us doth wheel)
Not by themselves to be embraced.

 

Unless the giddy Heaven fall,
And Earth some new Convulsion tear;
And, us to join, the World should all
Be cramped into a Planisphere.

 

As Lines so Loves Oblique may well
Themselves in every Angle greet:
But ours so truly Parallel,
Though infinite can never meet.

 

Therefore the Love which us doth bind,
But Fate so enviously debarrs,
Is the Conjunction of the Mind,
And Opposition of the Stars. –Andrew Marvell


For more tetrameter by Andrew Marvell, click here.