Andrew Marvell, the Critical Heritage

By Elizabeth Story Donno | Go to book overview

be a poet. His poems are as few as his years of rural peace. But if this responsiveness to his surroundings conditioned and limited his production, it was also precisely that which gave to what he did write its intimate magic.


97.

Isaac Rosenberg comments on ‘To His Coy Mistress’

1917

An experimental and ‘war poet, ’ Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918) had a short career. His collected works—poetry, prose, letters, and some drawings—were published in 1937 with a foreword by Siegfried Sassoon. In a letter to (Sir) Edward Marsh, postmarked 27 May 1917, he comments somewhat hazily on ‘To His Coy Mistress. ’

Extract from the Collected Works, ed. G. Bottomley and D. Harding (1937), pp. 316-17.

My Dear Marsh,

…. Mr. [Laurence] Binyon has often sermonised lengthily over my working on two different principles in the same thing and I know how it spoils the unity of a poem. But if I couldn’t before, I can now, I am sure plead the absolute necessity of fixing an idea before it is lost, because of the situation its concieved [sic] in. Regular rythms [sic] I do not like much, but of course it depends on where the stress and accent are laid. I think there is nothing finer than the vigorous opening of Lycydas [sic] for music; yet it is regular. Now I think if Andrew Marvell had broken up his rythms more he would have been considered a terrific poet. As it is I like his poem urging his mistress to love because they have not a thousand years to love in and he can’t afford to wait. (I forget the name of the poem) well I like it more than Lycydas.

-333-

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