by Andrew Marvell

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 summer's night ;
Nor can they to that region climb,
To make impression upon Time.

    'Twas in a shipwreck, when the seas
Ruled, and the winds did what they please,
That my poor lover floating lay,
And, ere 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 Cæsarian 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 forkèd streaks,
While round the rattling thunder hurled,
As at the funeral of the world.

While Nature to his birth presents
This masque of quarrelling elements,
A numerous fleet of cormorants black,
That sailed insulting o'er the wrack,
Received into their cruel care,
The 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 cormorant fed him, still
Another on his heart did bill ;
Thus, while they famish him and feast,
He both consumèd, and increased,
And languishèd with doubtful breath,
The 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 breast does ply
With all his winged artillery,
Whilst he, betwixt the flames and waves,
Like Ajax, the mad tempest braves.

See how he nak'd 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 ragg'd with wounds ;
And all he says, 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,
Forcèd 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.














Marvell, Andrew.The Poems of Andrew Marvell.
G. A. Aitken, Ed. London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1892. 58-60.

to Andrew Marvell

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