English Lyric Poetry: The Early Seventeenth Century

By Jonathan F. S. Post | Go to book overview
Save to active project



“Here at the Fountain’s Sliding Foot”

Or to suspend my sliding Foot
On the Osiers undermined Root

Marvell, “Upon Appleton House”

Literary histories have last chapters; literary history does not. And so it is with this book, reflecting on Andrew Marvell, “here at the Fountain’s Sliding Foot” (“The Garden”)—Marvell, the creation of much that was best in seventeenth-century poetry. Like Vaughan, he wrote some of his most celebrated poems around mid-century; the famous “Horatian Ode upon Cromwel’s Return from Ireland” comes immediately to mind. And he seems to have had an even briefer apprenticeship (if apprenticeship is indeed a useful word to describe a poet who was largely indifferent to the notion of a literary career) before producing work of astonishing skill, judgment, and variety. Only a handful of his poems can be dated with much certainty, but to know that the “Horatian Ode” and “Upon Appleton House, to my Lord Fairfax” were written by someone in his late twenties, or at most early thirties, is to recognize a poet limited (a questionable word again) only by his own lack of literary ambitions and his cool regard for the approval of either a wide contemporary readership or posterity itself. “Fit audience find though few” is a remark Marvell would not have been especially concerned to make.

Such modesty can be disarming, particularly for modern readers who wish to identify authorship with literary production rather than literary performance. Indeed, in a culture as radically divided over issues of publication as seventeenth-century England, we might even regard Marvell as an accident almost waiting to happen. Were it not for the improbable charade involving his housekeeper, Mary Palmer, who posed as his wife, Mary Marvell, in order to lay claim to a portion of her “late dear Husband’[s]” estate, 1 we would scarcely have reason to remember Marvell, the poet, as more than the author of a few deftly worked commendatory or occasional poems. For the proof offered by Mary Palmer of her supposed marital link to Marvell (who died in 1678 without ever having married) also contains most of the verse upon which his modern


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
English Lyric Poetry: The Early Seventeenth Century


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 324

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?