Lowell again (see Nos 41 and 64) recalls Marvell by introducing comments on two of the Cromwell poems in his essay on Dryden, written in 1870.
Extract from the Complete Writings (Cambridge, Mass., 1904), III, pp. 27-8.
If it be true that ‘every conqueror creates a Muse, ’ Cromwell was unfortunate. Even Milton’s Sonnet, though dignified, is reserved if not distrustful. Marvell’s ‘Horatian Ode, ’ the most truly classic in our language, is worthy of its theme. The same poet’s ‘Elegy’ in parts noble, and everywhere humanly tender is worth more than all Carlyle’s biography as a witness to the gentler qualities of the hero, and of the deep affection that stalwart nature could inspire in hearts of truly masculine temper. As it is little known, a few verses of it may be quoted to show the difference between grief that thinks of its object and grief that thinks of its rhymes.1
[Quotes ll. 227-32; no ellipses, 237-40; ellipses, 247-60. ]
Such verses might not satisfy Lindley Murray,2 but they are of that higher mood which satisfies the heart. These couplets, too, have an energy worthy of Milton’s friend:
[Quotes ll. 145-6, 277-8. ]
1 Alluding to Dryden’s hunt after rhymes.
2 Called ‘the father of English grammar, ’ Murray (1745-1826) published a number of school texts.