Motivated in part because it was the ‘most neglected’ period in English literature, the journalist and writer H. J. Massing-ham (1888-1952) published an anthology of seventeenth-century verse in 1919. He included in it eleven of Marvell’s poems, in whole or in excerpts, but, interestingly enough, he excluded ‘Bermudas’ because it was so well known. In 1921 he published an unsigned essay on Marvell which was then reprinted, with minor changes, in the Tercentenary Tributes. His autobiography Remembrance appeared in 1941.
(a) Note on ‘To His Coy Mistress’ from A Treasury of Seventeenth-Century English Verse (1919), pp. 354-5.
A perfect example of Marvell’s ‘witty delicacy. ’ Being a beautiful composite of various emotions all playing into one another’s hands, it is more. Perfect gallantry, pathos, irony, reflective melancholy, reverence, buoyancy, passion, tact are all contained in a style of matchless purity and fitness. Wonderful too is the way the slight playful tone of the poem, like the plashing of a stream, expands into a river of full harmony!
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
Marvell, like Vaughan, is unique. They both have a special and most precious note among our poets.
(b) Extract from ‘Andrew Marvell, ’ Nation and Athenaeum, 2 April 1921, pp. 20-1.
Marvell, indeed, has had a topsy-turvy reputation. Up to quite modern times, men have honoured him as the political purist who opposed a vain and lonely integrity to the demoralization of affairs after the Restoration, who was almost the only honest MP